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It's an Internal Affair…


By Jason Graven
Department Internal Affairs Director

Family is a term we use often to describe our separate but equal subsets in our organization. The American Legion "family" is looked upon to help raise money to assist in continuing our programs, and volunteering at our events. We use the term "family" to describe our mutual goals in our collaborations of strengthening the entire American Legion organization.

Families fight, argue, and have disagreements, but most families, I feel safe in assuming, want what is best for all and not simply what is best for one. I know in my family I have relatives, cousins and uncles and such, that I do not see but once or twice a year, but if they needed help and I could assist them I certainly would without hesitation. This is because it is not all about me and what I need to do to succeed but about what we can accomplish together to ensure that we all succeed. This same thought process is why service members refer to each other as being in a "brotherhood" or other similar family oriented descriptions. We look out for one another and are willing to sacrifice of ourselves so that others may prosper.

Yet, many of the calls I receive deal with bickering, infighting, arguing, and disagreements between organizations and one organization calling me to find out if they can force this action or that action upon the other organizations. When speaking in terms of "forcing" one person, or one entity, into complying into a desired response or action, we are no longer speaking of "family." We are speaking of tyranny and dictatorships. We often forget that this is a volunteer organization.

No one is forced to continue paying their membership dues, to continue to spend their money assisting the Post, or spending their time assisting in events. People are free to turn their backs, or if they do continue to feel strongly about the overall mission, transfer elsewhere, whether to 888 or another Post.

Why does this situation arise? It is my belief that much of these issues arise from lack of a singular Post mission. The separate entities do their thing and focus solely on what they want. The Legion, Auxiliary, Sons, and Riders are all spending time on their own events and raising money for their own individual causes, which is certainly fine. However, when one entity wants to make a decision that effects the rest without consultation, collaboration, or general professional respect, it comes across as "forcing" a new policy or procedure upon the others. This is not "family." This is not The American Legion.

We eliminate this from happening by developing a singular cause in which all entities can support. A cause each entity has a vested interest in ensuring the success of the program.

We currently have some National and Department programs many of you donate money to and help raise money for. My recommendation is to find a local cause, something that benefits the veterans directly in your local community. With all the money raised for Child Welfare, do you know a child in your community that has benefitted? Do you know a veteran who has personally benefitted from Operation Comfort Warrior?

The Post is the local community's veteran hub. A place where a veteran can go seeking out whatever support they may need. You are your community's veteran headquarters. We need you and your Posts to return to serving the local veterans and not simply raising money out of your community to ship to National Headquarters to support veterans somewhere else in the nation.

Each entity of this family has a sworn oath to support veterans and The American Legion mission. Sometimes, I wonder if The American Legion still knows The American Legion's first mission. Let us ensure that each and every veteran in Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, Southeast, and Central Ohio can turn to the American Legion in their local communities and receive whatever help or benefits that will give them a "leg-up," provide them a chance to succeed upon returning home, and have a place to call "home." Let each entity ensure that each and every veteran in their community knows we are there for THEM and not just for ourselves. Let us work together, and not against each other. Let us sit around the table and collaborate, on what to do with funds, resources, and our time to ensure that the VETERANS in our communities are not in need or want instead of bickering and arguing over what money belongs to whom and what it should be spent on.

Today, according to VA statistics, almost one veteran every hour will end their life by their own hands. What is your Post going to do about it? According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, almost 50,000 veterans are homeless. What is your Post going to do about it? Today, we have children of fallen service members struggling to traverse life without a parent. What is your Post doing about it?

Let us not forget our first priority, the health and welfare of this nation's fighting force. They are our family and they are counting on us.

Never leave a fellow veteran behind, it's an internal affair….