ROYALTON — New Department Membership Director Paul Hassing said the theme for this year’s membership drive is “You’re Worth It.”
It’s what he says when prospective members ask why they should pay the dues amount.
“What we do matters. Your community is worth it. Veterans are worth it. Our youth are worth it,” he said.
He said Minnesota could rise from 64,000 members to 70,000 if 12 percent of the existing membership signs up one new member this year.
“We need to realize younger veterans are different from us,” Hassing said.
Legion members can educate them on the importance of the Legion in its role with VA benefits.
“A lot of them are banking on the VA disability checks for their retirement plan. What are you going to do in 10 years, 20 years, if the veterans service organizations go away? The VA benefits will go away, too,” he said. “The politicians are going to make our decisions for us.”
He noted many of the newer organizations young veterans join do not lobby Congress. They are putting Band-Aids on problems but not solving root causes, like the Legion’s Brain Science program seeks to do or how the Legion gets veterans connected to each other and to their communities.
He called on everyone in the room to ask 100 veterans to join this year.
“See if you can do it,” Hassing said.
He encouraged members to wear the emblem, as it can draw interest. He said go to places veterans are, such as a Legion Baseball game. Posts ought to have memberships available at the games.
When new members join, give them some buy-in, he said. Send them to a training course and ask them to volunteer with the honor/color guard. Send them to a membership rally.
“I want to see new people at rallies and at the Department Convention,” he said.
At membership rallies, names of new members will be taken. A drawing will be held in March to pay for the hotel of a new member at the 2022 Department Convention in Willmar in July.
The 2022 membership goal for the Department of Minnesota is 64,575. National provided an extra incentive for the department if it reached 103 percent (66,513) with 90 percent retention.
“We have an opportunity with roughly 325,000-plus veterans in Minnesota and the Legion Act to grow our membership,” said Department Adjutant Mike Maxa.