By: Ralph Bozella, Department NEC

U.S. Marine Corporal Josh Bleill was in a military vehicle that just hit an IED and both his legs were blown off. His friend who had lost one leg was stopping Josh’s legs from bleeding and told him, we’ll get through this. Bleill, author of the book, One Step At A Time, was American Legion National Commander Jimmy Foster’s guest speaker at the commander’s banquet Wednesday night. He told us that American Legion is just like his Marine buddy, we tell veterans every day, we will help you, and, you will get through this. We can tell people this because we are here for veterans; this is what we do. He reminded us that success is not what makes things better for us, but success is what makes things better for those around us, those we touch; those we help. Josh’s motivating speech was the highlight for me at The American Legion Fall Meetings, October 9 – 14, 2010 in Indianapolis.

Seven Colorado Legionnaires attended the meetings: Department Commander Rick Friend and Adjutant Pat Smith attended the annual Commanders and Adjutants Conference. Sr. Vice Commander Jim Gillis and Past Department Commander Doug Wooddell were called in by the national office to attend the Foreign Relations Commission and VA & R Commission meetings respectively. Doug serves as Chairman for the National Cemetery Committee, a subcommittee of the VA& R Commission. Past National Commander Tom Bock, Alternate NEC Neal Thomas and NEC Ralph Bozella attended various commission meetings, the Western Caucus meeting, chaired by PNC Bock, and the NEC meetings held the last two days of the conference.

NEC Bozella, Alt. NEC Thomas, PNC Bock, Sr. Vice -Commander Gillis and Adjutant Smith attended the very important National Committee on Committees meeting on October 11. It is at the meeting that the Colorado NEC presents the list of recommended national appointments, which are carefully screened by the Committee, then eventually presented to the NEC for ratification. The following Colorado legionnaires were recommended and ratified as national appointments for 2010-1011: Cliff Monette and Phil Morton to the National Americanism Council; Paul Erickson to the Children & Youth Commission; Larry Decker, Tony DuMosch, Rudy Arguello, Lee White, Ken Willard and Ken Romero to the Distinguished Guests Committee; Frank McCurdy to the Foreign Relations Commission, Jim Gillis to the Foreign Relations Council; Charles Bogle, Lou Brackett, Steve Carter and James R. Kent to the National & Homeland Security Council; Richard Humphrey to the VA & R Commission; Doug Wooddell to the National Cemetery Committee whereby he was reappointed Chairman. The following legionnaires’ terms were not expired this year and their status will remain in effect for 2010-2011: Jim Gates on the Americanism Commission; Darrell Myers on the Economics Commission; Neal Thomas on the Resolutions Assignments Committee; Robb Smith on the National Security Commission; Jim Stanko on the VA&R Commission; and Jon Golley on the Public Relations Commission. Ralph Bozella was assigned as NEC liaison to the National Convention Commission.

Once a legionnaire receives a national appointment he or she is then eligible to be “called-in” to a national meeting. A call-in means that national will pay authorized expenses for that legionnaire to attend the national meeting. The national office determines how many call-ins Colorado may have at any national meeting. They may also tell us which legionnaires will be called-in to which meeting, based on, which commissions, council or committees are meeting and the level of work that needs to be accomplished.

Our National Commander Jimmy Foster from Alaska chaired the two-day NEC meeting. Commander Foster’s theme for the year is, “Serving America’s Veterans Every Day” (SAVED). He challenged us all to continue recruiting and renewing members. His “Lucky 7” pin will be sent to each legionnaire who recruits two new members and renews five current members. To receive the pin you need to document your membership work and send it to the national office. Adjutant Pat smith can help you document and apply for the Lucky 7 pin. Commander Foster is a very positive, motivated person. He cautioned us all to stay away from negativity stating that negativity creates negative results. He encouraged us to stay positive, and stay focused as we work hard for membership and treat our veterans and members of The American Legion Family with the respect they deserve as volunteers serving Veterans, Youth, National Defense, and Americanism – the Four Pillars of our organization.

As your National Executive Committeeman, I would to thank you all for what you do for our communities, state and nation through your work in The American Legion. Our success is measured by those whose lives are forever changed because we took the time to listen, to extend the hand of friendship and offered a way of helping our fellow veteran, or families or youth.

It is an honor and a privilege to serve as your NEC. I never take this honor lightly or for granted. Because you have elected me, I am motivated to accept this privilege as a primary responsibility. When traveling to national meetings I attend all national functions and require those who travel with me to do the same. I am prepared to accept the responsibilities and perform the duties representing Colorado as your NEC. It is a pleasure to work with Alternate NEC Neal Thomas who shares my commitment to represent you to the utmost of our abilities and with a positive attitude about our proud organization. Let’s continue to work together to Serve America’s Veterans Every Day.