Before I begin my column this month, I want to take a moment to express my personal condolences to the families and service members affected directly and tangentially by the horrendous shootings last month at Naval Air Station, Pensacola.
Our hearts and thoughts are with you.
Well, the festivities surrounding the holidays are finally over. So as we ring in the new year it seems fitting to reflect on some of the American Legion’s key accomplishments from the year past, and envision some of the work to come in the new year.
At a National level, the American Legion saw passage of some landmark legislation: Congress passed the “Legion Act of 2019”, and with it expanded access for deserving veterans to join the American Legion regardless of the time they served (albeit back to the start of World War II). Now, any veteran in good standing can join, without regard to whether they served in a previously recognized war or military conflict, (e.g., Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Granada, the Gulf war and the current war on terrorism.) That is a huge change, and opened the door to greatly expanding the ranks of our membership going forward.
The 101st National Convention in 2019 also instituted one of the most significant changes to our Constitution in decades with passage of revised eligibility criteria regarding membership in the American Legion Auxiliary. With the apparently simple change to replace the word “wife” with the word “spouse,” the ground was laid to not only recognize the important role non-veteran male spouses play in supporting their active duty and veteran wives, but in doing so also increase the membership pool of the Auxiliary.
At the local level, changes are afoot as well. All Posts in Florida, by directive from the Florida Department of the American Legion, now will be required to update their Constitutions and By-Laws to reflect tighter rules around finances, the consideration and passage of local Post rules by committees and their general membership, and other assorted health and welfare responsibilities.
As for our Post 240 going forward, our various committees are working hard to update our Constitution and By-Laws to reflect these changes, which upon review and approval by the Florida Department in Orlando, will likely take final effect in the first half of 2020. Why so long? Well it is still a bureaucracy, and ensuring whatever unique rules we have are acceptable does require review from multiple parties at the District, Area and Department levels.
But we have many things on the horizon that are ours alone to address, such as completing our three-year audit and implementing its recommendations; establishing a more refined, accountable budgeting process; and, the proposed widening in the next few years by FDOT of Gulf Beach Highway, which has the potential to take a significant portion, through eminent domain, of our property’s frontage and adversely affect our access and egress to the Post.
There’s also some major maintenance projects that we’ll have to deal with in the not-too-distant future. These likely will include such items as the resurfacing and restriping of our parking lots and upgrades to some of our Post’s electrical wiring, for example. As for the more immediate future, we are currently in the process of hiring a replacement Lounge Manager.
Yes, Sue Terry has accepted a new position with DynCorp International at Whiting Field. We wish her all the best in her new career. A loss for sure, but one we have to fill with someone just as capable and dedicated as Sue has been for us all.
Your help is needed in all of these important efforts, and the decisions we’ll make about them. The General Membership meetings on the second Tuesday of the month are where your participation, advice, and support can make a great difference, so please come out and join in our collaborations, deliberations, and ultimately, the choices we have to make. Again, for all the latest news and happenings, go to our Post 240’s website at:
— Dave Forsman