Minnesota Legionnaire debuts website at legionnaire.org

By Tim Engstrom
The Minnesota Legionnaire

Frequency of paper version to drop to 9 a year

ST. PAUL — First, the good news: The Minnesota Legionnaire has a new website at legionnaire.org. Content will update 24/7 and be shareable across social media platforms.

Now, the bad news: The Minnesota Legionnaire print edition will reduce in frequency to nine issues a year instead of 12.

“The postage costs are hurting,” said Editor Tim Engstrom. “About five years ago, it cost around $8,000 or $9,000 per issue to send out the Legionnaire to all Minnesota Legionnaires. Now, even though there are fewer members, and we have the lowest possible nonprofit rate available, it is $15,000 to $17,000. There’s nothing we can do.”

The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs, near the end of last year, awarded a Support Our Troops License Plate Grant to help the Legionnaire offset rising postage costs for one year and to aid with the cost developing a new website. Until the grant could be worked out, Bayport Post 491 made a generous donation that covered the Legionnaire’s postage costs for last December’s issue.

“We would be on life support without the grant and Bayport. The idea with this transition is that, on one hand, we have to reduce engagement in print, but, on the other, we can increase engagement online,” Engstrom said. “And, besides, this will help us to reach younger veterans who prefer to consume media online.”

The Legionnaire is a separate nonprofit from the American Legion Department of Minnesota. The Board of Publications approved reducing the frequency at its Sept. 28 meeting. This December 2023 issue is the final monthly issue. Going forward, the print edition will come out every six weeks, for a total of nine per year.

The new website, however, will have fresh content daily. Want to see photos from the Fall Conference in St. Cloud? They are there. It has Taps, Listening Post, Mail Call, all the same content but as a website. St. Paul Media developed the website.

“They did a fantastic job,” Engstrom said.

He said it was surprising that the National American Legion Headquarters didn’t already own legionnaire.org, since its main site is legion.org and its members are called Legionnaires. He noticed it was available in November 2022 and quickly scooped it up.

The Board of Publications is suggesting members pay a $35 voluntary subscription to help offset the rising costs so that the Legionnaire doesn’t drop down again to six times a year.

“Even if a quarter of our members donate the $35, we would have the funds to keep the print version solid,” said Board of Publications Vice President Michael Ash. “This is a valuable publication for getting information in the hands of veterans statewide.”

See the box above to learn about voluntary subscriptions.

The Minnesota Legionnaire began in 1920. It came out every two weeks up until the late 1970s, when it became a monthly publication. It typically would arrive near the beginning on the month, or within the first four days generally.

Here are the 2024 dates for when The Minnesota Legionnaire is estimated to arrive in mailboxes:

Jan. 12

March 1

April 12

May 24

July 5 (Convention Issue)

Aug. 16

Sept. 27

Nov. 8

Dec. 20

Advertising is available for purchase in the print or online versions. If more posts purchased advertisements for their bars and restaurants, that would help, too, Ash said. Contact Engstrom at tengstrom@mnlegion.org to inquire about advertising.

“I would imagine Legion Family members might like to dine out at different posts if they knew what specials were cooking or what charitable gambling they offered,” Ash said. “The cost would pay for itself through increased customers.”