By: C. Pat Smith

About 20 years ago our former Department Adjutant was negotiating with a cell phone salesman for a new cell phone. The phone he was looking at was the flip phone that opened up to reveal the mouthpiece and extended to the ear for proper communication. He was a little reluctant to purchase this phone for fear that he would be locked into a contract for one or two years and something new would be coming out that was much better and more efficient and not as big. I remember the salesman’s retort to that objection. He said that phones still had to go from the ear to the mouth to be effective and he didn’t see that element changing any time soon. Well how wrong he was. He was no Einstein for sure. He may have been a visionary but his vision was clouded at the moment since his only focus was to sell the phone and receive his commission and move on to the next customer. The salesman’s logic did not sway our adjutant.

The founders of our organization were visionaries. They knew the need for a group of war veterans to organize and respond to the needs of the moment for the returning WWI veterans. They could not see the future and they had no idea of the far-reaching impact this organization would eventually have. At the time they founded the organization they were like the cell phone salesman. Sign up a veteran in the organization to do the anticipated work of the organization and then move on to the next sale. And what an outstanding job they did in 1919 in selling this organization. In a short 18 months after they began they had enlisted over 800,000 veterans to join with them and begin the vision they had of service to veterans, their families and the widows and orphans left behind from that terrible war. Their phones did reach from the mouth to the ear and they knew how to use them. They had a single-minded focus and that was to build a group of young men and women into an instrument of service. The rest is history.

The lesson we need to take from these veterans is that although technology has changed the message is the same; join with us in a single-minded purpose to take care of our young men and women who our government has put in harms way to protect our freedoms. The technology today to accomplish that task is mind-boggling. We can communicate with the old phone, or with a new smart phone, we have something called e-mail, we can Twitter or text, we can blog, we can join social networks on the web, we can overnight mail them an offer to join, we can search the web for qualified veterans to join and we can talk face to face with veterans and tell them our story. No matter what the method we use we still need the cell phone salesman’s focus to make the sale and move on to the next qualified veteran.

Last year alone our national organization signed up over 100,000 new members by one of the oldest forms of communication, the U S Mail. These are veterans that believe in what we do as an organization. They are willing to join with us as we accomplish our tasks. They need to become active at their local level. Their first year’s dues are paid. It is now up to us to focus on getting them active and selling them on remaining for the second year and beyond. We must complete the application process with these new members.

How do we do that? Simple. We can give you the names and contact information of all those who live in Colorado. It is up to you, our local post leadership teams to contact them by whatever method you see fit, including that credit card size cell phone that doesn’t reach to your mouth. Our experience with these new members is they are happy to talk to a fellow veteran. They want to belong. They will transfer to your post if asked. Your task then is to complete the application process, transfer them and tap into their knowledge and experience and make them a productive member.

For the name of the members contact Tom Bock at Department Headquarters at 303 366-5201 or pncbock@coloradolegion.org. Focus is important, Focus now!