By Pat Smith Department Adjutant
The American Legion is fast approaching 100 years of service to veterans, their families and our country. This organization has a fascinating history. How do we continue to be relevant in a world that is moving at the speed of light with new emerging technologies? What elements does this organization need to continue to pursue to our 100 year anniversary and to begin the next 100 years? Can our history provide some clues?
On a daily basis we are confronted with veterans seeking assistance. Many of those veterans who enter our doors are not members of The American Legion. For whatever reason they were led to our front door. They were told by someone in the veteran’s community that the Legion could help. They have no idea about the big picture of the organization and all that we do. They are focused on their problem and their problem only. When they walk in the door they don’t want to hear about our Children and Youth programs, or our Americanism programs, or the Legion Riders Program, or our stance on military readiness. They just want to know “what can the Legion do for me” and they expect an answer to their problems.
So guess what, nothing has changed. The WWI veterans founded this organization on a spirit of brotherhood. Our Preamble to our Constitution says “by our devotion to mutual helpfulness.” They recognized the need to band together to provide assistance to those who fought the good fight. Some sacrificed their limbs, and some their lives, to defend America’s freedoms. As the WWI veterans marched through time improving the main mission of the organization, service to veterans, they left behind a legacy, a legacy of service, one veteran at a time.
Today we have an incredible amount of technology available to us to do this important mission. We can contact veterans through multiple means of communication. Social media networks connect the human race. Everyone has a smart phone. Very few Americans are left out of the loop when it comes to communications. But, human compassion can best be delivered in person. Understanding the needs of a veteran cannot be effectively communicated by the digital world. The pain and suffering a veteran is experiencing at a point in time cannot be felt by the internet. The depression and anxiety veterans feel when trying to adjust to the civilian world can only be articulated in person to another caring human.
So can we be relevant as veterans’ advocates in this fast changing world? You betcha! As long as we continue to realize and understand that our job is face to face and one on one we will be around for the next 100 years. The world around us may change, but the bond as brothers in arms will never change. We are here for one another. We are here to preserve our freedoms for our kids and grand kids. Happy Anniversary American Legion.