National Vice Commander Updates

Paula R. Stephenson

Mid-Year Report

February 20, 2018

August 2017 seems like such a short time ago, but it has been almost six months. History was made with Denise Rohan, our first Lady Legionnaire, being elected as National Commander to The American Legion. In addition to her leadership, she gave us building blocks with her “Family First” theme, membership, and very specific goals in many areas that support our membership.

1. Increase Retention Rate by 5% in each Department. On February 19, the Western Region was 2nd of 5 National Regions for renewals, with the Department of Mexico as #1 in the 9,999 Category. In the Western Departments who have set up a weekly or a monthly system of reaching out to their membership by personal contact (phone calls and personal visits), they have seen success in reaching the monthly membership goals. Commander Rohan wants personal contact before December 31. The fact remains that with each month after that date it gets harder to retain members. It is not impossible-just harder. These renewals combine with new members into total Department membership numbers.

2. Monthly Membership Goals. 12 of 15 Western Departments have met/exceeded the 80% and 85% goals on target. Great job! Those Departments that receive STARS for reaching their goals each month should be proud. Remember, these goals are primarily based on the members that were already current members in 2017. On February 19, the Department of Arizona was #1 in the 25,000 Category for New Traditional Members. The lure of an Arizona Department trophy may be working? Also, new Posts are being established in California, Colorado, Idaho, Philippines, and Utah. However, the West still has work to do. We are currently 5th out of five Regions, at 85.37%. I know we can finish in first place just like to last year. Our motto: “THE WEST IS THE BEST!”

3. Transfer Members to Local Posts. Linked with the retention rate, Commander Rohan wanted to see members transferred out of Holding/HQs Posts into local Post Homes. The fact still remains that retention rates are higher in local Posts (about 84%), compared to Holding/HQs Posts (about 37%). Transfers are accomplished through Posts and official/unofficial Revitalizations.

4. Revitalizations. The goals for transfers in the Western Departments are being met and exceeded each time a revitalization event is held. The support for these normally comes from Indianapolis with our Membership Team Leader, Michele Steinmetz, and boots on the ground from Posts, Districts, and Departments. They help in transferring members from the Holding/HQs Posts that are brand new to the Legion. Also, Departments have been able to bring back members with expired memberships into local Post homes, where they will feel more welcome and decide to remain and participate. District Commanders and above just need to ask for this assistance. Great training and phone calls are happening at these events. If your Posts/Districts are not participating in these official or unofficial events, they are missing out. 2

5. Veterans Day Dinners. Veterans Day was a focused day to excite America about The American Legion through social media. It worked well. As I have seen throughout the West, this is not just limited to Veterans Day. We capitalize on the good weather when we have it. There is a Post in Idaho in a very small community (pop. 500) that sponsors street parties in the middle of town, and now the surrounding communities join in (1,000+). Social media involvement was part of this challenge. Several Western Departments have established their own American Legion Press Association groups, and improve their involvement with the NALPA (National American Legion Press Association). This spreads the word and “advertises and informs” what The American Legion does in our communities all the time. To continue this positive trend, recruit a NALPA member in each Post. Go to

6. Reconnect. All Western Departments are touching the lives of their military members (Active duty, Reserve, National Guard). However, only four (Wyoming, Utah, Montana, Idaho) Western Region Departments have figured out how to tell the stories through the Reconnect Program. This is a DoD initiative meant to “reconnect” our country with its military. If you partner with a military unit, be it Reserve, National Guard or Active Duty base or post, then your Post is reconnected. If you do military funeral honors with uniformed personnel, then you have reconnected each time. Do not forget your involvement with deployments through the Yellow Ribbon programs, especially through the Family Readiness Groups with each unit. (Ref: Page 29, National Membership Awards Points Manual – Membership Year 2018” for the form). Let’s make sure you give your Posts and Departments the credit they deserve!

7. Basic Training. Last but not least is the power boost. Commander Rohan challenged each Department with improving American Legion Basic Training graduate numbers by at least 5%. To date, 8 of 15 Western Departments have reached this goal. You have heard “knowledge is power”. If you have not taken The American Legion Basic Training on-line course within the past two years, you are missing out. ALL new members should do this course when they receive their new member number. If you are in a leadership position, it should be mandatory. The on-line course combines the written history, links, and YouTube videos to enhance your learning experience about WHY we do WHAT we do. This is a free course for the entire Legion Family. With this knowledge, your membership and program quality may improve. Go to

8. Consolidated Post Reports (CPRs). Stay tuned. This is our next big push with 100% goal.

Thank you to the Departments I have visited to date. Your warm hospitality and friendship have been overwhelming! Each Department is unique, and it is such a joy to see your American Legion Families work together. Commander Rohan’s theme FAMILY FIRST has been embraced so naturally in your Posts and Departments. You ALL make us proud. I look forward to visiting in the coming months with the rest of our Western Departments. Thank you for all of your support.

Still Serving America,
Paula R. Stephenson
National Vice Commander – Western Region
Family First