My fellow legionnaires, I would like to start the year by saying Thank You for electing me as your commander for the next year and providing me with an outstanding group of officers and staff to work with. As your Department Commander I can only promise that as Department Officers, we will do our best to work towards what is best for the American Legion and the Department of Colorado.

Those who attended our 89th annual convention in Colorado Springs had an opportunity to meet your Department Officers. Frank McCurdy is your Senior Vice Commander, Thresa Arney, Larry Decker, Jim Gates, Jim Gillis, Jon Gooley, and Jim Park were elected as your Junior Vice Commanders. Paul Erickson was elected to serve another term as your Finance Officer, and Eleanor Allen was re-elected as Historian. Robb Smith was elected SGT at Arms.

Thank you to our immediate Past Commander Tim Grabin and his officers for their service during the past year.

My theme for this year is “Soaring To New Heights” , because we have many challenges before us that will largely determine the future of the American Legion.

Once again the “Commander’s Project”, is to increase the funding for the Colorado Children and Youth Foundation. The Colorado Children and Youth Foundation is an American Legion Non-Profit Corporation established in 2003 to provide funding for the Department’s Children and Youth programs from the proceeds of the foundations investments. The foundation still needs to raise approximately eighty five thousand dollars before it can begin funding these worthwhile programs from investment returns. Donations are tax deductible and always welcome. We encourage every post to do some type of fund raising activity for the Colorado Children and Youth Foundation this year.
Every donation, no matter how large or small gets us closer to our goal.

The past few months have created many challenges for the American Legion in Colorado including:
* The new Secretary of the Veterans Administration decided to scrap the existing plans for the Denver VA Medical Center and outlined his plan for a “hospital within a hospital”.
* Gasoline has reached a record high price of $4.26 a gallon, diesel fuel is hovering at $5.00 a gallon and food prices have risen significantly in the past year.
* Bingo revenues at many posts are declining.
* Attendance at conventions has declined and hotel costs have risen.
* The American Legion is “doing business” the same way it has for over thirty years.
* Volunteers have less time to volunteer.

As your department officers, we are committed to improving the Department of Colorado. To improve our department will require us to look at different ways to do things, which brings up the “C” word – CHANGE. We are well aware of the fact that everyone dislikes CHANGE because it disrupts, “the way we have always done things”.
That being said, we must all remember that many changes in the past thirty years have vastly improved our lives.

Thirty years ago gas was 79 cents a gallon, the DMS Program was cutting edge technology and this year the program was placed on hold by our national headquarters while they evaluate the program. Microwave Ovens, DVD’s, Personal computers, PDA’s, the Internet, E-Mail, On Line Purchasing, Cell Phones, I-Pods and Fax Machines hadn’t been invented yet. Mimeographed news letters were the most technologically advanced and best way to communicate with large groups of people, and copies were made with carbon paper not copiers.

We have all survived these technology advances, some with more foreboding than others.
The time has come for the American Legion to embrace the “new” technology available to us.

The first of several meetings with the District Commanders was held at the Convention, where some of the challenges facing every post and district were identified. Immediately after the conclusion of the Convention, your officers met with Jin Cong, and Jon Martinez of our National Headquarters Staff to discuss how we can meet these challenges. Several promising ideas and concepts were identified, and we are developing methods of evaluating and implementing those ideas.

This year, we have a new department level committee, The Technology Committee, whose mission is: “To look at ways that we can do more of the business of the American Legion with less time and expenditures.”

We need your input and ideas on what changes you would like to see in the future.