Minnesota Commander: Credit belongs to members and supporters

By Paul Hassing

Hello again, American Legion Family,

The year continues to roll along on the road ahead. We have come across some potholes, and some construction but for the most part it has been an enjoyable ride. Thanks to the many great people that work so hard to make it a smooth ride. The weather this year has made things easier as well.

Paul Hassing mugshot
Paul Hassing

I can’t believe the year is half over already. It was great traveling around the state attending all the mid-winter conferences. We were able to make it to all but the 2nd District. Thank you to everyone for all the hospitality. I know it takes a lot of people and hard work to put those together. It is very interesting to see all the different nuances of the districts. I really love seeing the American Legion family all working together.

We also had a great turnout at the Sweetheart Rally. A special thank you to the American Legion Auxiliary, and to the Forest Lake American Legion Family for hosting a very successful event. I know a lot of work goes into putting that together. I can’t thank you enough for all you do.

Membership in the department is going great so far thanks to all of you and our Department Membership Director Pam Krill and the membership team. As of this writing, we are in fourth place in the nation.

Membership is no easy task, but it is vital to the future of the organization. I have always had the belief that if we are doing great things, and having some fun, members will join. We all must do our part though. If we aren’t telling people what we do and letting them know why we are members, they won’t know. I know we talk a lot about recruiting younger veterans, but it breaks my heart when I hear of a (older) veteran that has never been asked to join.

I know some of us feel uncomfortable asking someone to join. We feel like we are selling something. I struggled with that myself. Then I realized that if I remembered why I was a member, and told that story to people, they would join. We have a great family, and it would be a shame to deprive someone of belonging to our family.

The American Legion family has a lot of things coming up that I am looking forward to. We have the Appreciation Rally coming up on March 2 in Montgomery. It should be a good time. I always look forward to seeing everyone and catching up. The American Legion Birthday is March 15. There are many dinners around the state celebrating this event. If your post does not have one, I’m sure there is one in your district that would love for you to attend.

Please remember that National Vietnam War Veterans Day is March 29. They didn’t get the welcome home that they deserved, and I know we can never make up for that but please do everything you can to honor them. Many Vietnam veterans are working hard in the American Legion to make sure the disrespect never happens again, and I thank you for that.

We have the honor of hosting National Commander Daniel Seehafer from April 14 through the 18. Please look at the website for locations and see if you can attend any of his stops. We need to show him how great the Department of Minnesota is. The national commander will be at Veterans Day on the Hill on April 17.

We really want as many of our Legion Family to attend this event as possible. We need to show our lawmakers what kind of force we are, and how important veterans issues are to us.

I talk a lot in this article about how hard people work, and I mean that.  As commander, I get a lot of credit for things that happen in our department. These things happen because of the hard work and sacrifice of all of you. None of the great things we do would happen without you. All the members, committee members, full-time staff and even some who don’t qualify for membership but still believe in taking care of veterans, their families, and the community are the ones responsible for how great we are. Thank you for allowing me the privilege of taking credit for everything you all do.

With all the work that needs to be done, please remember to take time to have some fun. Take the time you need to be with your family and loved ones, and please, please, please reach out to someone you haven’t seen in a while. And, please reach out if you need anything. Sometimes just a quick chat can do amazing things.

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