Commander's Message October 2016
Good Morning Legionnaires
We successfully jumped the first membership hurdle on September 14th! That was the date we needed to be at 50% membership for the Department. We hit 52.65%.
Our next hurdle from National (which is a little higher) is to be at 55% by October 12th. We don’t want to shoot for that mark. We want to target the Blitz target developed by Terri Shelefontiuk and our membership team. She and the team have challenged our Districts to reach or exceed 80% of their membership no later than November 15th.
This is not an insurmountable task. We already have a few Districts in the high 50 and low 60 percentile range. I am asking all Districts to work with their Posts to continue working membership and let’s “git ‘er done!”
And a hearty congratulations to the following Posts with at least 15 members on their roster who have hit 100 or more as of this date:
CSU Ft. Collins Post 1879, District 4 at 100%
Bear Valley Post 84, District 5 at 105.88%
Aurora Post 1976, District 6 at 142.31% (WOW!)
Florence Post 1919, District 7 at 120% (WOW again!)
Ignacio Post 36, District 10 at 100%
Gypsum Post 160, District 13 at 100%
To those Posts, I say great job, and don’t stop or slow down! There are several others very close to the 100% mark. Who will be next?
Thanks to everyone who is working membership, which should be everyone. If you haven’t already signed up a new member, let’s get out there and do it. Charlie Schmidt, our National Commander, issued a challenge to all Legionnaires to get one new member. He said if you want to get 3 or 4 or more, that’s okay too, but he wants all of us to get one. I’ve signed 3 new members. How many do you have?
Thanks for what you have done and thanks in advance for what you do for our Veterans and strengthening our voice by growing our membership. You prove every day you are committed to BPOTS!
For God and Country,
The American Legion, Department of Colorado
The American Legion and Politics
In this highly charged political year I believe it is time to review The American Legion Policies on the wearing of the cap at political functions and usage of The American Legion emblem, facilities and political donations. I ask all Legionnaire, Auxiliary and SAL members to be sure to follow these guidelines when engaging with political candidates of any kind.
The wearing of the cap and usage of The American Legion emblem, facilities and political donations
According to Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution of The American Legion, “The American Legion shall be absolutely nonpolitical and shall not be used for the dissemination of partisan principles nor for the promotion of the candidacy of any person seeking public office or preferment.” The National Charter, approved by Congress, also stipulates The American Legion as an organization is nonpolitical* which has been interpreted by the National Judge Advocate as “nonpartisan” in modern lingo. Therefore, The American Legion as an organization is prohibited from contributing, helping or endorsing a candidate. However, a member, as a private citizen, and not representing the organization, can employ whatever legal and ethical means to advance his or her candidate.
The Legion cap is considered the official Legion uniform (see p. 42). It is not an individual Legion member’s decision on the appropriate usage of the cap and emblem. If attending a political event, The American Legion cap, or any clothing with the emblem visible, should be removed so as not to imply endorsement by The American Legion. The problem is the assumption of endorsement by those who see the emblem or name worn at in improper location, such as a partisan rally.
When using post facilities to host candidates, post should remove emblem and Legion flag to avoid any impression of endorsements. Candidates for all parties must be presented equal opportunity at the same time to use the facilities on the same terms and conditions as other competing candidates.
If financial contributions are offered by candidates for political office, campaigns, political action committees or political parties, The American Legion should politely decline. Accepting these contributions may be perfectly legal, but The American Legion must avoid any perception of supporting any candidate or political party.
The American Legion values its independence and effectiveness on veterans’ issues. This stance is best maintained by neutrality on individual candidates or political parties. The American Legion by legal definition is non-partisan and supports only issues which impact your Four Pillars..
* This means “non-partisan” in today’s society. The American Legion is allowed by Congress to lobby for veterans benefits and a strong United States of America. (NJA, October 25, 2012).
“The corporation shall be nonpolitical and may not promote the candidacy of an individual seeking public office.” This is further emphasized by the provisions of Article II, Section 2 of the National Constitution which provides:
“The American Legion shall be absolutely nonpolitical and shall not be used for the dissemination of partisan principles nor for the promotion of the candidacy of any person seeking public office or preferment.”
The American Legion takes positions on issues and lobbies for veteran’s benefits and a strong America. This is clearly permitted. What is not permitted is the endorsement of any candidate or the donation of funds by The American Legion to a candidate. The American Legion takes positions on issues and its members being citizens need to be informed on the issues. Hence, American Legion programs such as candidate nights are fully authorized as long as all candidates are invited on the same terms and conditions. It would be illegal to invite the one you support with advance notice, but the one you oppose with no notice at all. When Legionnaires wear their pins and hats to political rallies, the media often try to reach the wrong conclusions. This can be very embarrassing to the Legionnaire. Hence, we normally recommend that Legionnaires do not wear their caps to partisan political rallies. There is no rule against doing this so long as the Legionnaire makes it clear there is no endorsement.
Likewise, we recommend that Legion publications not accept paid political ads. However, if they do, the paid political advertisements must be made on the same terms and conditions for all candidates and should be labeled “Paid Political Advertisement” at both the top and bottom.
As noted above, those who violate the partisan political activities prohibition put the Legion charter of their post at risk as well as its tax exempt status.