By Pat Smith Department Adjutant, Published January 2015
January 2015. A new year and new challenges for the veteran community. We begin this year with our first conferences of the year at the end of January. Our Mid-Winter conference will take place January 23-25, 2015 at the Hotel Eleganté, in Colorado Springs.
This conference is more generally known as our Mid-Year conference because in is in the middle of our annual membership drive which starts in July of every year. Our membership year is a calendar year so check your membership card to see if it says 2015. If not mail us a check or go online to www.legion.org and renew. Now that you are all confused let’s go back to the Mid-Year conference.
The highlight of the conference for the 7th year will be the U S Army troop induction. The Army will give the oath to about 150 delayed entry troops on Friday, January 23rd, at 6 pm. This is a very patriotic event! If you want to get yourself some goose bumps, be sure to witness this event. Everyone in the audience will be waving American Flags as the troops raise their right hand and repeat that oath that all veterans have taken to defend this country. The U S Army band from Fort Carson will be there to insure you get a good dose of patriotic music. Parents, grandparents, girlfriends and boyfriends will be there to witness this rite of passage for our next generation of veterans. This event bodes well for the future of The American Legion. So put Friday evening, January 23rd, on your calendar. I guarantee you that this is a do not-miss event. Your faith in our youth to protect our freedoms and way of life will be renewed here.
The rest of the weekend will be taken up with making plans to continue the great programs of the American Legion. Our committees will meet to discuss their programs.
The Americanism Committee and the Children and Youth Committee will have a breakfast to highlight their plans for the next six months.
The Boys State and Girls State committees will be holding a silent auction to raise money for their programs.
For the first time ever, our Employment Committee and Homeless Veterans Committee will conduct an afternoon session to look at ways to get veterans off the streets, and back into the workplace. Mark Walker from our national organization will be on hand to make a presentation about these important problems. The State Division of Human Services will be there. The homeless veteran’s coalition from Denver and Colorado Springs will be there, along with the VA regional office. You can bet, that just about any organizations related to these issues will be present. This all will take place on Saturday afternoon, January 24th beginning at 2 pm. If you have any interest in employment for veterans or getting our veterans off the street, be sure to attend this session.
Our National Commander Mike Helm will be our guest this weekend. He will be there to motivate us, brief us on the legislative issues facing veterans, and just generally there to meet us all, on a one on one basis to listen to our concerns. Mike is from the neighboring state of Nebraska and is a true Legionnaire through and through. Come to meet him, you will be impressed.
Our membership director, Larry Johnson, will be conducting a “membership roundtable” to discuss ways to improve our membership gathering efforts for the coming years. Since the inception of this great organization we have been looking for ways to attract younger members into our ranks. Our future depends on those efforts. The “Greatest Generation” is passing away at about 1,000 a day. This generation has left a legacy for all of us to follow. We are making new veterans every day with all of the world conflicts. They will serve their country, return with problems and The American Legion must be there to greet them. Please join Larry in this session and contribute to the ongoing dialogue on how to attract new members, retain old them and tell our story to our communities.
The weekend will conclude with our annual Jeffrey P Luginbuel Media Awards banquet. Jeff was our PR committee chairman for several years and he passed away too early. To honor Jeff and his accomplishments we named this banquet after him Our current PR Committee, chaired by Darrell Myers, will be presenting awards to the print media, a television station, and a very special award to radio personality Rick Crandall from KEZW radio in Denver. This event started in the early 60’s and has been a part of our conference all these years. It is an excellent way of cementing our relationship with those that can tell our story to the broader audience. Although the recipients have been selected for this year please keep this event in mind for next year. Look around your community and nominate a radio station, newspaper or TV station that is doing a good job for veterans. The nomination forms will come out in this publication in September or October or 2015 so look for them.
The weekend will conclude on Sunday morning with a memorial service conducted by our Chaplain Frank Pemberton. This will be a time of reflection for those who have passed from our ranks. We will all leave the conference with a new found commitment to our organization.
Don’t forget, January 23-25, 2015. See you there.