Commander: Don’t let personalities divide our efforts

By Paul Hassing

Our great American Legion Family is made up of many different types of people with many different personalities. We don’t always agree. We don’t always get along. We do have to do our best to get along for the greater good though. We have too much work to do, and a lot of veterans and families are counting on us to get things done.

Paul Hassing mugshot
Paul Hassing

They are also watching us to see if this is an organization that they would want to be a part of. We can do better. You are all dedicated and wonderful people, each one bringing something unique to the table. I am glad to know all of you.

This last month has been very busy with a lot of post-level Christmas parties. It really is the fun part of being busy. I’ve met so many wonderful people from all around the state. I’ve said before and I really believe Minnesota is the greatest department in The American Legion. The hospitality and kindness, the extra hours, the volunteerism that our communities have shown me is remarkable. Thank all of you so much.

I was contacted recently by a Minnesota Legion member who currently lives in Florida (hey, Chuck) and loves to read the Legionnaire. We had a great chat. He asked about my project, and we talked about some places we both knew.

During the conversation, he mentioned how some of the Legion posts weren’t very welcoming of Vietnam veterans — even posts that knew the person before going to Vietnam. If that happened to you, I am so very sorry. A veteran is a veteran. No matter where they served.

No veteran should be turned away or made to feel unwelcome at any of our posts. If you have been turned away, please let me know.

I’ve put a lot of miles on this year, and sometimes when I’m going down the road, I grumble to myself about how long of a drive it is. When I catch myself doing this, I think about what it must have been like back in the 1920s when The American Legion was first starting. How did they travel around the state?  Did they have a hard time convincing people to join?

Back then it was mostly word of mouth. I know they weren’t all professional salesmen, yet they seemed to get the job done. I know they didn’t have a lot of competition for activities back then, but they also had longer work hours and less free time. I am always amazed at the great organization that was built, and the great things that were accomplished with what little technology available to them.

I want to thank everyone who has donated to the American Legion Minnesota Veterans Assistance Fund (Minnesota American Legion Foundation Fund 85). The challenge this year is to raise $100,000. I know that seems like a lot, but our veterans really need help.

I want to thank Department Service Officer Ray Kane and Assistant DSO Janet Lorenzo for doing such a fantastic job with the fund. This duo doesn’t just give money away, but they do their best to help the veteran, so the situation doesn’t happen again. Most of us at one point or another in our lives could have used the Minnesota Veterans Assistance Fund.

“There, but for the grace of God, go I,” as they say. Please reach out to your posts. Gambling funds can be used, because the foundation is a 501c3, and if you have any questions, please call me.

We have a brand-new year coming up, and I am looking forward to it. I’m not much of a “New Year, New Me” type of person, but there are some things I need to work on this year. I have to find a way to shed all the pounds I’ve gained from the great meals.

Please remember to reach out to those you haven’t spoken to in a while.  Be the one that could make a difference in someone else’s life.

I really hope you all had a great time over the holidays. I hope everyone was able to relax a little and enjoy being around those that you love. Sometimes family gatherings can be a little overwhelming. We don’t always get along with or agree with everyone in the family. Sometimes you don’t want to really be around certain family members. But you do your best to put aside your differences to make the occasion better for everyone.

Thank you all more than you know.

Paul Hassing of Bloomington  Post 550 is the commander of The American Legion Department of Minnesota. His theme is “The Road Ahead.”