By: C. Pat Smith, Department Adjutant
Twelve Colorado Legion, Auxiliary and SAL members descended upon Washington, D. C. for our annual Washington Legislative Conference.
We were there to talk about the future of veteran’s health care and veterans benefits with our elected leaders in Congress. Our time there was well spent and productive. We were able to meet personally both of our Senators, and all of our representatives except Congressman Doug Lamborn.
Of course our first priority for Colorado was to talk about the proposed new VA hospital on the Fitzsimons campus. Our NEC Ralph Bozella was able to meet fact to face with the new VA Secretary Shenseki and present to him the white paper developed by the United Veterans Committee in support of the new hospital. While that meeting was taking place several of us, including Commander Gar Williams, were meeting our new Senator Michael Bennet. Senator Bennet had not yet signed the letter to the VA Secretary supporting the new hospital. At this meeting he agreed to sign on and by the end of the day he sent a letter to Secretary Shenseki supporting the new hospital. The previous day Representative Jared Polis had signed on to the agreement. So now the entire congressional delegation now supports this new stand alone VA hospital. The Secretary promised Ralph he would have an answer within 10 days. So we wait again. Stay tuned.
We are entering an extremely busy time of year for the Legion. Shortly all of our District conventions will be held and new officers will be elected to lead the organization at the district level for another year. Our district conventions are an important event in the management of this organization. The districts are charged with encouraging their assigned posts to think seriously about the direction they want this organization to go in the future and they are responsible for reviewing all resolutions that come before them and making the decisions on whether those resolutions have enough merit to be passed on to the department convention. In addition the district conventions are an excellent chance to meet fellow Legionnaires from other posts and learn what is working successfully for them. The district convention schedule is published elsewhere in this paper so plan on attending your district convention. You’ll be glad you did.
We have set April 25, 2009 as the day for our Leadership and Training Conference. Commander Gar Williams moved up the date for this conference to provide an opportunity for the brand new leadership at the post level to get a running start on their year. Previously our leadership conferences have been held after the department convention, some as late as October, and Commander Gar did not feel that was an appropriate way to bring new leadership into the organization by waiting so long after they were elected.
The conference will be focused on the newly elected officers at the post level. We sent a pre-registration application to all posts asking that they consider sending their new officers and asking them to consider paying some of the expenses.
The Saturday event will feature a visit by our National Commander and a working lunch designed to put legionnaires together from different posts to discuss issues important to them and to then put those ideas and issues in writing. There will be a session on communication and managing volunteers to effectively improve the organization.
The cost for the Saturday session all day is only $20.00 which includes all work books and the cost of lunch. We have made special arrangements with the Radisson hotel for a $79.00 room rate for those that will need to stay overnight. All in all this is a conference that you need to attend if you have any desire to learn more about your organization.
We are winding down our 2009 membership year but are still short of our assigned goal by about 3,000 members. Now is the time to concentrate on renewing those who have not yet made the commitment to renew, contact them by way of a personal phone call; or by personal visit.
They thought enough of the organization once to pay their dues, so now it is your job to get them to renew. The final dues notice has gone out from our national organization so you should be receiving membership from that notice now. Make that final effort to attain your goal if your post has not done so already.
The 2009 Department Convention will be held in Grand Junction this year. A number of changes to the convention have been made to improve the convention and to reduce the cost of attending the convention for our members. We are in the final stages of putting together all of the details but here is a brief summary of the agenda.
Friday morning will be the American Legion opening session at 9 am followed by a DEC meeting. This is a change from the DEC meeting on Thursday afternoon and also a change for a joint opening session with the Auxiliary. The annual VA&R reception has been moved to Saturday night in place of the normal banquet. The elections of officers will still be held Saturday afternoon. The agenda essentially eliminates Thursday from the business sessions which means only two nights of expenses for hotel rooms and meals. We will publish the full agenda as soon as it is put together.
Don’t forget to put April 28, 2009 at 9 am on your calendar. This is the day that Honor Flight of Northern Colorado will send some 130 WWII vets back to the WWII Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
We would like to have a good contingent of American Legion members, wearing caps, to send these WWII heroes off to visit their memorial. We hope to have an Army Color Guard on hand also. The date is confirmed so plan on it.
Honor Flight Details
April 28, 2009
7:00 am – WWII Vets muster at Budweiser Event Center (BEC) in Ft Collins
8:30 am – Four buses depart BEC with Patriot Guard and Law Enforcement escort
9:30 am – Arrive a Signature Flight Support at 7850 Harry Combs Parkway at DIA
10:30 am – Board U S Airways Air Bus 320 for Veterans and Guardians.
11:15 am – Depart for Baltimore/Washington.
April 29, 2009
5:00 pm – Department Baltimore/Washington
8:00 pm – Arrive at Signature Flight Support
If you attend be sure to be at the Signature Flight facility by 9:00 am on the morning of departure to see these veterans off on their trip of a lifetime. Directions to the Signature facility are as follows: Take Pena Blvd to Jackson Gap, turn right, at stop sign turn left onto 75th Ave which turns to the left and becomes Harry B. Combs Parkway, continue until you see the Signature Flight facility on the right side of the Parkway.
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