Fellow Legionnaires, last month I discussed the principle of asking a person if they are a veteran, and if they are a member of the American Legion.

I would like to carry this a little bit further.  A nationally recognized motivational speaker has made the statement “Timid salesmen have skinny kids!” If we paraphrase this a little “Timid American Legionnaires have small posts!”       

Where am I coming from? If a salesman doesn’t ask, he doesn’t get the sale, no
sales mean no commissions, no commissions means the salesman can’t buy food, and his kids are skinny. The same thing applies to legionnaires and their posts, if YOU don’t ask, then you don’t get new members, and a lack of new members means you will have a small post.The American Legion does not want you to have a small post!

Our National Headquarters has taken the initiative and they have asked thousands of potential members if they would like to join the American Legion. This year alone, three thousand seventy five of those “potential members” said YES and joined the American Legion in the State of Colorado. This single recruiting practice by our National Headquarters literally brings thousands of new members into the American Legion Department of Colorado each year. Which brings us to our greatest opportunity and challenge. We, as a Department, Districts, Posts, and Legionnaires must make the effort and contact these three thousand seventy five new Legionnaires into our individual posts.

Now you are asking yourself as a Legionnaire, Post Officer, or Membership Committee Member how do I ask these new Legionnaires to join my post when I don’t even know who they are? The answer is simple ask. Who do I ask? What do I ask? Again the answers are easy if you know where to look. Ask your Department Junior

Vice Commanders for a copy of the 2007 & 2008 DMS+ List for all Zip Codes that your post serves. These lists are available in print format or on a CD. The list as alphabetical by Zip Code, and includes the membership number of the new Legionnaire, his or her address, date of enrollment, membership year paid for, and in many cases, a telephone number.  If you have a phone number for the new Legionnaire, pick up the phone, and give them a call, welcome them to the American Legion, tell them about your post, and ask them to transfer from the headquarters holding post to Your Post. If the legionnaire says yes, invite them to your next meeting, complete the transfer form and now you have a new member in your post! If they decline your offer, ask them if there is another post they would be more comfortable in? If the answer is yes, contact a member of that post and ask them to contact the new Legionnaire and ask them to join their post. If there is no phone number for the new legionnaire, please take a few minutes to send him or her a personalized letter welcoming them to the American Legion Department of Colorado and telling them about Your Post, include information about the post and when your meetings are. You might also include a completed member data form and ask them to sign and return it to you personally. Each year our National Headquarters spends thousands of dollars recruiting new members thru the DMS+ Program.

I’m sure you are all aware that there is no such thing as a free lunch. The same thing is true with the DMS+ Program. The Department of Colorado is charged for the cost of recruiting each new member that is recruited into the Department of Colorado.  Last year this cost the Department of Colorado over twelve thousand of your hard earned dues dollars, or about fifty cents per individual member, which we paid to the National Headquarters for these new members. This year, we can expect a similar bill for new DMS+ Members. The good news is that if we take the initiative and ask these new members to join our posts. We will not have to pay national for these new members IF and only IF we transfer two thousand and ten of these new members into our posts! Now I can hear you asking yourself, why do I have to do this, national started the process, the Department has a paid staff, why not let them do it? Isn’t this someone else’s job? I would like to answer those questions this way.

No one knows a post better than the members of that post. Your Department of Colorado has a full time staff of five, two are in the Veteran’s Service Office, which is not located at headquarters, one is the Department Bookkeeper, one is the Department Administrative Assistant, and the other is your Department Adjutant, all of whom work full time to keep this organization functioning and providing all the services we have come to expect from our headquarters staff. In addition to the full time staff the Department has two part time employees, one handles the Department Newspaper, Newsletters, and Bulletin. The other person works on transferring DMS+ Members from previous years into your posts.  At this time, we do not have a membership staff. In the near future, we would like to hire a membership director who can work with posts to help improve membership, revitalize those posts who are ailing, and contact potential members in Colorado. Until we can support this position, we as volunteers must step forward and put in the extra effort to build our organization.

Let me close by asking everyone to go the extra mile, contact a DMS+ Member and transfer them into your post. It will make a difference in their life, and the life of your post!

Gar Williams Sr Vice Commander