By: Frank McCurdy, National Executive Committeeman

As a veteran, I say thank God our founders created the American Legion (TAL). The inability of our congressional representatives to solve and agree has only increased the importance of TAL to protect our veteran earned benefits and to ensure our national security. As leaders within TAL, we must educate ourselves in the many issues our veterans and nation face. Our national organization has provided a web site that is a wealth of information. I encourage every Legionnaire to surf the entire site. Most questions our leaders encounter may be right at “legion.org.” Two items of interest may include Advanced Appropriation and Military Readiness.

The recent self-inflicted financial crisis potentially imposed a major negative impact on our veterans. For that reason, TAL has increased our efforts on passing legislation to include the entire VA budget within the concept of Advanced Appropriation (budget provided a year in advance of the normal October 1st fiscal year). Representative Jeff Miller, FL, Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee has introduced HR813 for that purpose. Senator Mark Begich, AK, has introduced Senate Bill S932 in the Senate. The bills are very similar in intent and language. Both bills are in the process of passing through the Veterans Affairs Committees of House and Senate. Hopefully, a bill will pass before the next congressional impasse. Military Readiness is also a vital concern.

Facing threats from the Middle East, Korea, China, and the War on Terror, the US cannot afford to allow our forces to degrade. The make up of tomorrow’s military is complex. We must provide a capability to fight the War on Terror with Intelligence and Special Forces. At the same time, we must plan for a Strategic Mission with Conventional Forces. Throw in Cyber Warfare, and you get a very difficult mix of requirements and expensive weapons. Once again, information on these topics and Legion’s positions are located on the web site to include blogs to voice your opinions.

Your NEC cannot conclude without an appeal for membership and resolutions. Informed Legionnaires are our best recruiters. Use the tools of today and the web site to gain knowledge. Provide your opinions and solutions in a resolution. Show our veterans that you are a pro. If you do, we really have a shot at a 3 million-member membership.