By: C Pat Smith, Department Adjutant

The real estate industry talks about curb appeal when marketing a house for sale. When you pull up in front of the house does it “invite” you in? Does it look like something you would be proud of if you owned it? Is the landscape attractive? Is the front yard free of debris and clutter? Does the house need repairs to the exterior, roof, siding, paint? If everything is attractive from the curb you will then take the next step and enter the house for a preview of your future home.

When you enter your prospective new home is the interior attractive? Is it cluttered and in disarray? Is the paint on the walls horrendous? Are there holes in the wall? Does the kitchen sink still have yesterday’s dishes in it? Does it look like a home? Are there pictures on the wall of family and friends? Does it have that homey atmosphere? Is the furniture inviting, some place you could sit and enjoy time with family? Do you instantly want to live there upon first impression?

Now a good real estate agent will paint you a picture of what the home will look like when you own it. He will ask you to look past any clutter and disarray. He will ask you to envision your furniture in the rooms, your family pictures on the wall, your paint and floor covering choices, the window shades you want, the kitchen appliances that fit your life style. His job is to sell you the house and your job is to make it a home. Once the former occupants move out and all the furniture and clutter is gone you will have a blank slate to design your very own home.

Now that was a long preamble to talk about the image of The American Legion. Everything applies to your post that applies to a prospective buyer for that house. Granted your prospective buyer is not buying the post home, but is possibly a brand new member looking for comradeship with fellow veterans or a current member evaluating the image of the post. I’ll guarantee you that your image will be important to that member.

Take a good objective look at the front area of your post home. Does it have the curb appeal a real estate agent would talk about? Is the American Legion emblem and sign bright and cheerful or is it faded and dull? Is there a flag pole with flags flying proudly? Are the flags in good repair or torn and tattered? Is that new member going to want to walk in the door, or turn and leave? Of course the other question is, are you, as a current member, proud of the look of the exterior?

When you enter take a good look around and what do you see? Do the pictures on the wall reflect the fact that your post is a veteran’s organization? Do your walls tell a story of the history of the post? Is the post charter conspicuously displayed? Is the Legion emblem proudly displayed? If your post has an auxiliary and SAL squadron, are their emblems displayed? Is the flag of our country posted with the proper protocol somewhere in the building?

We have numerous posts with club room operations. So the question here is does the interior look like a honky-tonk bar? Are there beer advertisements all over the place? What is the first sign you see? Is it advertising a drink special; or, is it a sign saying, “Welcome friends and fellow veterans, feel free to make this your home.” Is it family friendly? Is the language at the bar constrained? Is it a place you would be proud to take your mother? Are you proud of the interior? Will you proudly profess to everyone you see that your American Legion Post is the best?

So many questions and who is to answer? The obvious answer is your post membership. They have the final authority over anything that happens under the banner of The American Legion. If they don’t care, then who is going to care?

A New Year will soon be upon us. Why not take the time to appoint an “image” committee to review the image you are portraying to the public and to your members. Is it time to start with that blank slate at your post? Make that New Year’s resolution to clean up the post if it needs it. Make the post home a real “home.” Make it a place where you can invite family, friends, fellow veterans and the community to partake in all the good things we do as an organization. A good image will lead to a more productive American Legion, Auxiliary and SAL. It will lead to a bigger and stronger Legion, with more members to accomplish our important work. Remember, everyone loves a winner. Your image determines if you are a winner or loser. So, get to work.