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 8-13, 2011 at the national headquarters city of Indianapolis. The Department of Colorado was represented by Department Commander Jim Gillis, Department Adjutant Pat Smith, National Executive Committeeman Ralph Bozella, Past National Commander Tom Bock, Department Historian Ellie Allen, National Cemetery Committee Chairman Doug Wooddell, and National Americanism Commission member Jim Gates. Alternate NEC Neal Thomas was excused.

Saturday night featured the Indianapolis Homecoming of National Commander Fang Wong from New York. 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 over $650,000 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.

Monday and Tuesday were spent in national commission meetings. Colorado legionnaires were active in Americanism, Convention, and VA & R, commission meetings. Commander Gillis and Adjutant Smith attend several meetings designed to provide training and sharing of information about membership and the programs which emanate from the four pillars of our great organization. NEC Bozella, PNC Bock, Commander Gillis and Adjutant Smith attended the very important NEC Subcommittee on Committees meeting on October 10. It is at this meeting that the NEC Bozella presented the list of recommended national appointments, which are carefully screened by the Subcommittee, then eventually presented to the NEC for ratification. The following Colorado legionnaires were recommended and ratified as national appointments for 2011-12: Jim Gates was reappointed to the Americanism Commission and Cliff Monette and Phil Morton were reappointed to the National Americanism Council. Darrell Myers was reappointed to the Economic Commission. Frank McCurdy was reappointed to the Foreign Relations Commission and Larry Decker was appointed to the Foreign Relations Council. Carol Kennedy, Gary Moody, Patrick Reinard, Dave Turley, Lee White, and Ken Willard were appointed to the Distinguished Guests Committee of the Convention Commission. Neal Thomas was reappointed to the Resolutions Assignment Committee of the Internal Affairs Commission. Charles Bogel, Lou Brackett, Gary Force, and J.R. Kent were appointed to the National and Homeland Security Council of the National Security Commission, Jim Stanko was reappointed to the Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Commission and Doug Wooddell was reappointed as Chairman for National Cemetery Committee of the VA&R Commission. American Legion National Executive Committeemen serve as liaisons to all of the national commissions. NEC Ralph Bozella was appointed to the Legislative Commission Liaison Committee. Bozella was also appointed by National Commander Fang Wong to serve on the Commander’s System Worth Saving Task Force which was established to review operations at the VA Medical Centers throughout the country.

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 Jim Koutz of Indiana, and second candidate Dan Dellinger of Virginia.

The two-day NEC meeting was chaired by National Commander Wong. Commander Wong’s theme for this year is, “We Serve with PRIDE”. His special membership pin is called the Super Eight and all you need to do to earn one is to bring eight new members to your post or to the department. You can use any combination of recruiting, transferring from Post 211, or renewing members to earn the pin.

The NEC heard reports from 12 national commissions and acted on 51 resolutions. Of note, is Resolution 1 which calls for Congress and the President to cease all efforts to reduce the defense budget from its current level. Commander Wong delivered a passionate statement to support this resolution. Resolution 18 from Colorado, American Legion Policy on Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, was rejected by the VA&R Commission and was not presented to the NEC. Another Colorado resolution on headstones for national veteran cemeteries is still held for further study and should be considered by the VA&R Commission at the spring meetings. Commander Wong established a special task force to study the issue of creating a place within the American Legion Family for spouses of female veterans.

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, families and 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 associated with 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 as we “Serve with PRIDE”.