News & Events

AMERICAN LEGION FORMING IN NEW HAVEN LAUNCHES FACEBOOK PAGE

NEW HAVEN, CONN (Jan. 15, 2018)–Organizers of the proposed American Legion post in New Haven, Connecticut have launched a Facebook page to spread the word about the “new century” post forming in the Elm City. The page is at https://www.facebook.com/NewHavenLegion210/

Facebook continues to be the dominant social media platform in the United States and a vital marketing tool especially for organizations trying to reach a targeted audience in the greater New Haven region.

Interested veterans can like the page, share posts and events, or monitor the progress of the proposed post as organizers recruit current service members serving honorably, and honorably-discharged veterans who have served at least one day of federal active duty in the United States Armed Forces during a period of war.

Organizers can be contacted on Facebook, on the Internet (https://newhavenlegion.org), or by calling the voice mail at 203-903-4315.

Why We are Organizing a “New Century” Legion Post

As a direct consequence of the end of military conscription in 1973, more of America’s bellicose burden is concentrated in a shrinking segment of our population. While the end of the draft is considered highly successful and widely embraced, it has lead to a growing military/civilian divide in our country. The American people are increasingly disconnected from the U.S. military and military service. This disconnect is not unique to America or this age; unfortunately, this disconnect historically leads to the marginalization and alienation of the service, sacrifice, and the needs of military veterans. As these demographic and social trends continue to converge, American veterans will continue to be pushed aside, ostracized, and devalued–which is why veteran service organizations such as the American Legion and the VFW matter now more than ever.

Numbers count in a representative democracy. Down from 18 percent in 1980, U.S. veterans made up about seven percent of the total adult population in America in 2016 according to the Census Bureau. This demographic drop coincides with decreases in active duty personnel, less large conflicts, and the aging and passing away of senior veterans. Having less military veterans is actually a great thing because it means we are in fewer large-scale conflicts. For example, the Veterans Administration (VA) reports there were more than 16 million serving in the armed forces during the six-years of World War II. In contrast, after 16 years of the Global War on Terror (GWOT) approximately 3.2 million have served worldwide, many serving multiple deployments. While making less military veterans is a great idea, as veteran numbers drop their needs will increasingly go unheeded and critics will cast them not as active citizens who selflessly served our nation but as burdens on our society.

For most veterans, their service and sacrifices shouldn’t be lionized like some conquering hero, but they shouldn’t be cast aside either. Marginalization is to relegate an individual or a group to an unimportant or powerless position within a society; alienation is to stop being friendly or helpful towards an individual or group, especially when an attachment formerly existed. Unfortunately, if American history is an indicator, our veterans are victims of these recurring social trends. For instance, in 1861 Congress established federal pension benefits for volunteers wounded on the field of battle to promote voluntary enlistments. Eventually, northern Civil War veterans were seen by critics as “a nuisance who saddled the nation with debt and doleful memories,” according to Brian Jordan in Marching Home: Union Veterans and Their Unending Civil War. Politicians would accuse veterans and veteran groups of “waving the bloody shirt” or paint armless veterans as “pension beggars” in an effort to ostracize veterans.

In our current war, American service members and veterans are lauded for doing something for the country most Americans don’t want to do or can’t do (because three-quarters of Americans are overweight, under-educated, or have a criminal record and can’t even qualify to join a military service). Paradoxically, and a spot-on example of alienation, because of their martial service, these same veterans are often viewed as a simmering menace to society and even feared by fellow citizens who prejudicially paint them as “crazy veterans” who all suffer from “the PTSD.” That said, the current level of marginalization and alienation in America isn’t metastasizing into outright persecution, but these reoccurring societal trends continue to impact all veterans, including the current Post-9/11 generation, and may even be a compounding factor in the current veteran suicide crisis in America. Additionally, ostracizing veterans and devaluing their service is ungrateful and it sends a negative message to future generations of volunteers, impacting our nation’s strength. 

Veteran service organizations such as the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars seek to better the lives of America’s service members, veterans, their families, their communities, and our country. In a nutshell, that’s their reason for existing. They foster camaraderie and celebrate our accomplishments and shared sacrifices. They bring veterans together, and through social, service, and charitable opportunities, veterans can lead more meaningful and fulfilling lives and overcome loneliness, defeat purposelessness, and continue to make a difference in this world. Additionally, these groups combat the unfortunate pathos of American veteranhood, perhaps mitigating the social stigma of being marginalized and alienated, but definitely challenging our political representatives who consistently seek to diminish the gracious entitlements granted to veterans by the American people.

In 2007, I became an American soldier and a member of a team (to quote the Soldier’s Creed). After two deployments, I decided to return to the peaceful ways of civil life. However, as all veterans know, military service changes a man. I missed that sense of camaraderie and mission. In early 2015, I organized a “new generation” VFW in New Haven because there wasn’t one in Connecticut’s second-largest city. Comprised of largely Post-9/11 veterans, we prospered and we were honored as an All-American Post in 2017.

As our VFW flourished, it increasingly felt like we were missing a large part of the team. Much like the Great War veterans occupying post-WWI Europe, Post-9/11 veterans see little distinction in the service of veterans based on duty location–especially veterans of our all-volunteer and combined-arms force. Moreover, from our first day of service to our last, soldiers are reminded of the Army Values, the Soldier’s Creed and the motto “one team, one fight.” It’s not about us. It’s about our battle buddies to our left and right. While some senior VFW comrades may see the two veteran service organizations as having an adversarial relationship, Post-9/11 veterans arguably recognize the need to closely ally veteran groups to combat these growing demographic and social trends arrayed against the veteran community.

The American Legion will celebrate its 100th anniversary between August 2018 and November 2019, ushering in a new century for the largest wartime veterans service organization in America. In keeping with the motto of the centennial program “Legacy & Vision,” comrades of the New Haven Legion and fellow wartime veterans aspire to celebrate a century of service of the Legion, while looking forward to a “new generation” of veterans incrementally assuming leadership of the largest veterans service organization in America. Despite some generational reservations, we see the centennial as a grand opportunity to charter a “new century” American Legion post, one that will uphold the military values we embrace and fulfill the ideals of the motto, “one team, one fight.”

Notes from Legion College

—-The American Legion celebrates its 100th anniversary between August 2018 and November 2019. Thousands of state and local activities are planned to honor the organization’s first century of service. The motto of the centennial program is “Legacy & Vision” to concentrate both on the organization’s many accomplishments of the past and its mission of the future as the post-9/11 generation of veterans assumes leadership. The 100th American Legion National Convention is scheduled for the location of the first national convention, in Minneapolis. The 101st American Legion National Convention is set for Indianapolis, home of American Legion National Headquarters.

Organization Flow

The American Legion primarily consists of three separate but interconnected entities: posts, state departments and a national headquarters. Departments have authority to create and charter intermediate groups, which may be referred to as districts, counties, divisions or zones, between the posts and department. In no event may they invade the prerogatives vested with in the post, department or national organization.

At the post level, committees typically include, but are not limited to:

  • Americanism
  • Children & Youth
  • Education and Employment
  • Finance
  • House
  • Legislative
  • Membership & Post Activities
  • Public Relations
  • Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation
  • Security
  • Graves Registration
  • Sons of The American Legion

Post committees report and recommend directives to elected post officers who then report and recommend directives to the Post Executive Committee.

The Post Executive Committee reports to, works with, and provides directives to the Post Commander, an elected officer, and the Post Adjutant, an appointed officer, and to the post as a whole.

Posts provide information and coordinate efforts with District/County leadership.

District/County officers, such as district commanders and district executive committees, coordinate, inform and work with posts in specific geographic regions. They then inform and coordinate with Department Headquarters.

Departments, also composed of committees and officers, coordinate and work with National Headquarters, which also consists of commissions and committees with specific roles and purposes, an elected national commander and vice commanders, and appointed officers. The National Executive Committee (NEC) is the equivalent to a board of directors of the national organization. The NEC and the National Convention (similar to a stockholders meeting) are uniquely responsible for national resolutions decisions.

At the post level, chairmen are more commonly assigned to run programs, like Membership, Boys State, Oratorical Contest or American Legion Baseball, depending on the size and interests of the post.

Every year, posts present American Legion School Award medals to thousands of boys and girls in graduating classes of elementary, junior high and senior high schools. Winners are chosen based on the qualities of courage, honor, leadership, patriotism, scholarship and service. Post committees work with schools to select award recipients and present the medals.

Military families call the toll-free FSN number, 1-800-504-4098, or ask for assistance online at www.legion.org/familysupport. Requests are referred to the department, which in turn refers calls to local American Legion posts. The posts contact the families and, if able, provide assistance. If a post is unable to help, it refers the family to other local agencies. In cases of financial need, the post provides the necessary funds or helps the family apply for Temporary Financial Assistance if minor children are in the home.

which is the most important attribute of The American legion when it meets with top leaders in Washington?: Membership is the lifeblood of the organization. When the Legion delivers a message on Capitol Hill, it does so on behalf of nearly 3.5 million members of The American Legion family.

The American Legion Magazine is the largest publication for veterans, with a readership of over 3 million per month.

AMERICAN LEGION POST FORMING IN NEW HAVEN

The “new century” post seeks to honor 100 years of Legion service, while continuing the mission of the largest veterans service organization in America.

NEW HAVEN, CONN (JAN. 2, 2018)—In an effort to foster a vibrant military veteran community in New Haven, a group local veterans are recruiting eligible residents to form an American Legion post in the Elm City.

Post-9/11 veterans and Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) alumni Britt Conroy, Charles M. Pickett, and Biancesca Rivera, along with University of Connecticut (UCONN) graduate Thania Rivera, are reaching out to fellow veterans to gage interest, organize informational meetings, recruit members, and promote the proposed post in person and online at NewHavenLegion.org and on Facebook @NewHavenLegion210.

Despite being Connecticut’s second largest city, there is no American Legion post open to the more than 3,700 veterans living in New Haven. In 1950, New Haven had five American Legion posts, including Westville Post 39 that was organized shortly after World War I, and the Yankee Division Post 130 located in the State Armory. Chartered by Congress in 1919, the nonprofit group focuses on service to veterans, service members, and communities, and it is the largest wartime veterans service organization in the United States.

Pickett said there is a real need for an American Legion post in New Haven—a need highlighted by the successful formation of the Veterans of Foreign New Haven Post 12150 in 2015. Pickett said as he was recruiting for the VFW New Haven, he met dozens of veterans who served their nation honorably but were ineligible for the VFW because they didn’t serve overseas in a combat zone—which is a key distinction between the memberships of the two veteran service organizations.

Veterans from the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars, who couldn’t join the Civil War-based Grand Army of the Republic, formed the VFW in 1914. The American Legion was formed after the Great War in March of 1919 by members of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) in Paris who opened membership to honorably discharged veterans of the conflict, regardless of their duty location.

Pickett said, “the rapid success of the VFW New Haven, which was honored as an All-American Post in its second year in 2017, speaks to the ‘can-do attitude’ of Post-9/11 veterans and the need for a veterans organization in New Haven for all generations. With this second effort, we look forward to including even more military veterans, especially Vietnam-era veterans, as we continue to build a vibrant and diverse veteran community in the Elm City.”