The American Legion Department of Tennessee




VOLUME XXXX, NO. 1                                                                                                                                                                     FEBRUARY 1, 2023

Veterans Serving Local Veterans

Well, here it is, February already. We are seven months into the membership year and my term as Commander of this great Department of Tennessee. I have to say just how proud and happy I am with the way that everyone is working together to "stop the slide". Several things have come together very well.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The riders have resolved their longstanding patch issue. After years of back and forth on the issue, a Resolution was passed by the Riders and the DEC at Mid-Winter. Now just one more hurdle, we need to pass this resolution on the Department Convention floor in June.  They are also gearing up for the 2nd Annual Department of TN Legacy Run. Last years' ride was a resounding success with over $20,000 raised. This year they head to the Eastern Division. Director Wright has laid down the challenge for each Post, Squadron, Unit and Chapter to donate $300. If that happened we would raise over $96,000. While that may be out of reach for some, there are plenty who can meet the challenge. If you can't donate the entire amount, please do what you can.
Our Women Veterans are also making large strides in the right direction. With the addition of the 10 District Chairpersons, the organization and formation of a Women Veterans Coalition of the Department of Tennessee is well underway. There are a lot of Women Veterans that are working hard to come together and the excitement is brewing.
Our membership numbers are looking better than they have for several years. As I am writing this Tennessee currently stands in 7th place nationally and 1st in the Southeast Region. I truly appreciate the effort that you all are making. Thank you also to everyone who participated in the District Revitalizations. You were able to transfer over 900 members into our local posts. We are bound to have some good active members from that. We have met every target date so far, but we still have more to come. Remember, the ultimate goal is to "Stop the Slide". This means ONE more member than last year. Our Post goals were set more or less where they ended up two years ago. If we can do that, we will add over 700 members to the Department. Quite a few posts have met their goal so far and even one District for the first time in several years.
We have had some really good District Meetings. The Commander's Tour was outstanding and I have to say that Commander Dennis Smith from Post 257 Collegedale really knows how to put on a great show. That was special. The round table discussions were a big hit. Many good ideas were shared and some tough questions got answered also. We will continue to try to have those roundtables in the future.
The Mid-Winter Conference was really interesting this year with a lot of good work accomplished and a lot of information shared. Over 30 exhibitors including several Department program chairpersons were displayed. The Riders got some important things done. Women Veterans were featured with several displays including Women's Health from the VA and the Women Veterans Memorial from Arlington. They also had a very productive breakout session led by the Women Veterans Chairperson Carla Bell. Ed Bray's racecar was a popular spot for pictures. Baseball and Shooting Sports had a lot of interest. We were all able to enjoy some great coffee and some of us had to bring some home. PTSD Therapy groups were popular featuring Dark Horse Lodge, Heros and Horses for Healing, and Operation Healing Waters among others. We were even blessed to have a special musical treat thanks in full to Post 44 Commander Ray Cobb for making something that I really wanted to see, actually happen. Hunter Girl from American Idol was on hand to sing the National Anthem as well as a song that she wrote "Redbird". She is special because BEFORE she was known at all, she volunteered her time to work and sing with veterans suffering from PTSD. 
This year has not been without a few bumps along the road, but that hasn't dampened anything. The momentum is changing. The morale is rising. You all are being rejuvenated. I am so happy with what everyone is doing. I see the hard work that you all are doing. I see what you are doing for your communities. And I want you to know that I THANK YOU for it. THANK YOU for all that you do. And THANK YOU for taking your time to help your fellow veterans and THANK YOU for helping make TENNESSEE one of the best Departments in the American Legion.