By: Jim Gates, Department Commander

Welcome to my monthly column, “Commanders Call”! Sound familiar?? It should to anyone who’s served in our armed forces. I hope you won’t find this boring and a waste of time as we often did then! Someone once asked me if the Air Force had a slogan; I replied “I’m sure it was just TAKE OFF”! In the future if I get too long-winded and non-productive in your mind’s eye then feel free to use the Air Force slogan and I’ll get the message!

Before I get too far ahead of myself, I have to congratulate out-going 2011-2012 Commander Jim Gillis and his officers; Auxiliary President Rhonda Larkowski and her officers; and S.A.L Commander Scott Garrett and his officers for their dedicated work for our great organization last year. The Department of Colorado excelled at securing a near-perfect membership year and also raising funds for the Fisher House!

Last year’s team set the bar pretty high for us to hurdle. But, accept the challenge, we will! With a top-notch Sr. Vice Commander and cheerleader to head up our membership committee we already have an edge up on what needs to be done!

But, wait! There’s more! Let’s not forget to thank our hard-working Department Headquarters staff without whose help we would be totally in a fog. Thanks, Elaine, Pat, Tom, Amy, Darrell.

We’re off and running after a very successful Department Convention in Grand Junction June 26th – July 1st 2012. District 13 hosted the convention at the Country Inns of America hotel. Thanks, District 13 officers, for a great job in orchestrating this event! Our attendance could have been better! I hope we will see more of you at our next Department-wide function: mid-year in Colorado Springs!

I promise I will do my very best to live up to the trust you have placed in me in the coming year. But, please remember that I am but one person on the team as we move forward. I’ll be depending heavily on all elected officers and chairs of our many committees as we take care of business from this day forward. And, I will never lose sight of the fact that the “Blue Hats” are the workforce. I appreciate each and every one of you as a volunteer!

The American Legion as an organization IS a place where we nurture our Children and Youth, take care of our Veterans, and where we maintain and grow our membership on an annual basis. And sometimes, it’s easy to lose sight of those goals as we deal with finance issues, budgeting, visiting our Districts and Posts and raising funds. Let us always keep in mind the objectives of The Four Pillars of our great organization in the busyness of our lives.

My passion in the Legion has been our Americanism programs – so my theme for the coming year is “America’s Youth – America’s Future.” I fully believe that the destiny of our great nation lies in the hands of today’s youth, whose goals will hopefully be enhanced by the programs we involve them in and by the mentoring we can provide. To that end, I will raise funds to support the Colorado Youth Foundation, one of the sources we rely upon to finance our Colorado Americanism programs.

As much as we tire of hearing it, membership IS the lifeblood of The American Legion. But, we can’t depend on it solely to finance our operation. We truly need to be innovative in securing funding through other sources and I think our incoming finance committee already has some ideas in mind.

As usual, the sooner we plant the seeds of membership renewal, the better. Membership renewal cards should already in the hands of your Post Adjutants or in your mailbox. You can send your registration renewals in to your Post Adjutant -OR- renew on-line. If you choose the latter, be SURE to follow the directions carefully. If not, receipt of your “real” membership card for 2012-2013 could be held up, and this will cause more work for your Adjutant, as well!

Remember, we as Legion members have an obligation to carry on the work of our founders and are blessed by the grace of God to do it. Little did most of us know at the time of our service obligation to our country that it would mean a LIFETIME of dedication!! Anything worth doing IS worth doing well and it is my hope that we excel at all we do in the year to come! God bless you all as we move forward and may God continue to bless the United States of America