By: Ralph Bozella, NEC

The annual Fall Meetings of The American Legion Department Commanders and Adjutants, National Commissions and National Executive Committee were held October 13-18, 2012 at the national headquarters city of Indianapolis. The Department of Colorado was represented by Commander Jim Gates, Adjutant Pat Smith, Sr. Vice Commander Carol Kennedy, National Cemetery Committee Chairman Doug Wooddell, Past National Commander Tom Bock, Alternate NEC Neal Thomas, and NEC Ralph Bozella. The Colorado delegation attended National Commander Jim Koutz Homecoming event, national commission meetings, and other meetings and events through the five day conference.

Sunday was the Legion Insurance Trust banquet sponsored by LIT to celebrate the funds given back to American Legion departments through the sales of LIT policies. Colorado has received $696,582 in LIT funds throughout the past several years as payment for the LIT policies purchased by Colorado Legionnaires. LIT also announced that the free accidental policies available to every legionnaire has increased to $5,000. All you have to do is sign up. Please contact department for more information.

On Monday, the Colorado delegation attended the Committee of Committees meeting whereby recommendations for national appointments were presented to the national organization. Following is the status of all Colorado national appointments, listed by name, committee, date appointed, and length of term:

Jim Gates, Americanism Commission, 2011, three years. Cliff Monette and Phil Morton, Americanism Council, 2012, one year . Paul Erickson Children & Youth Commission, 2010, three years. Lou Brackett, Tom Flores, Tim Grabin, Larry Johnson, David Turley and Lee White, Distinguished Guests Committee, of the Convention Commission, 2012, one year. Darrell Myers, Economic Commission, 2011, three years. Frank McCurdy, Foreign Relations Commission, 2011, three years. Carol Kennedy, Foreign Relations Council, 2012, one year. Brandt Erickson replaced Neal Thomas, Resolutions Assignment Committee of the Internal Affairs Commission, 2011, three years. Robb Smith, Homeland Security & Civil Preparedness Committee of the National Security Commission, 2012, three years. Charles Bogel, Gary Force, James Kent, Jim Otto, National and Homeland Security Council, 2012 one year. Terri Shelefontiuk, Public Relations Commission, 2012, three years. Richard Humphrey, VA &R Commission, 2012, three years. Jim Stanko VA &R Commission, 2011, three years. Doug Wooddell, VA&R Commission, National Cemetery Committee Chair, 2012, one year.

Ralph Bozella resigned as NEC and was appointed by the NEC as Chairman of the National VA&R Commission. Alternate NEC Neal Thomas has become NEC, by department and national by laws.

Once a Colorado 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.

Evenings were spent at hospitality events for leading candidate for national commander Dan Dellinger of Virginia, and second candidate Mike Helm, Nebraska. National Commander Jim Koutz was busy visiting different meetings, hosting events, and presiding over the NEC meeting. Commander Koutz’s theme is, “Every Day is Veterans Day”. His special project is the Legion’s Operation Comfort Warriors program, where more than $101,000 has already been raised.

On Tuesday, Colorado delegates attended the Western Caucus chaired by PNC Bock. Doug Wooddell was introduced as Colorado’s candidate for Regional National Vice Commander which will be elected at the 2013 National Convention.

The NEC heard reports from 12 national commissions and acted on 64 resolutions, plus disposed of other resolutions as part of commission reports. The following resolutions originated in Colorado: Colorado resolution to transfer remains of 3rd and 5th Calvary to a VA cemetery was disposed of administratively by VA&R Commission, meaning it will be rewritten showing national, not local intent. Colorado resolution calling for support for a National Veterans Support Network was held for further study by VA&R Commission. Colorado resolution to adopt America’s Creed was disposed of administratively by Americanism Commission, and Tom Bock is looking into this. Resolution 41 calling for VA to reduce the number of years from 10 to one so that spouses of 100% disabled veterans could be eligible for Disability Insurance Compensation, was approved by the NEC.

The following resolutions were approved by the NEC and are noteworthy: Resolution 16, calling for background checks on volunteers of American Legion Baseball teams. Resolution 34 calling for Legion Volunteer Service Coordinators at VA Hospitals. Resolution 39 calling for Women Veterans Strategic Plan by the VA. Resolution 48 stating that regardless of race, religion, gender, creed, age or war era, a veteran is a veteran and entitled to American Legion help. Resolution 53 calling for cooperative relationships with American Legion, Legion Auxiliary, and Sons of The American Legion. Resolution 64 calling for a five-year strategic membership plan within The American Legion. It was reported that 253 resolutions from the National Convention have legislative intent and will be sent to Congress. One more note with Colorado implications is congratulations to SeanWeller, Colorado Springs, a recipient of a $20,000 Samsung Scholarship. For more information on resolutions or other actions of the Fall Meetings, please contact NEC Neal Thomas or PNC Tom Bock.

On a personal note, this report is my last official act your NEC. It truly has been an honor, a privilege and my joy to have served Colorado in this capacity. It is a pleasure to work with Neal 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 as we make “Every Day Veterans Day”.