Column: Think of your ‘Why?’ when recruiting members

By Anthony Koop

While it is about looking forward in our membership year, it is also about getting back to basics.

Why?! Because I’m talking about the basics of “Why?” If we are asking people to join The American Legion, then we must ask ourselves “Why am I a member of The American Legion?”

My “Why?”

I have been a member of The American Legion since 2007, while I was still serving stateside for U.S. Army in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Why did I join The American Legion?

Mugshot for Anthony Koop
Anthony Koop

Because an American Legion recruiter outside the commissary asked me — and so I did!

Little did I know at the time what The American Legion was all about. Seventeen continuous years later as a member, I am still learning. There are many things this organization does, including programs, scholarships and benefits for veterans and their families, children and youth, and our local communities.

My “Why” has evolved over the years. From being asked to join to realizing the magnitude of what we do. From being part of an organization that supports veterans to being part of the “How” we support our veterans and our mission. From being a person attending meetings and interjecting my voice from time to time to being someone who saw the value in a program to push it forward and build it up for our mission.

From being a member, to being a leader.

One thing I know for sure is what The American Legion means to ME. To me, it is a honorable and respectful (and fun!) way to continue serving our country and our veterans.

My eligibility comes from serving as a combat medic in the Iraq War Era 2003-2008, including one tour in Korea, and two combat tours in Iraq, in which I received the Purple Heart Medal.

I am also a proud dual member. My eligibility for the Sons of The American Legion is from my grandfather, Phillip Koop — U.S. Navy World War II — and my grandmother, Vonda Bongs — U.S. Air Force Korean War — and my grandfather, Bill Bongs — U.S. Marines Korean War.

Unlike Eagles, Elks, Moose, ATV clubs, bicycle clubs, garden clubs, Kiwanis, Lions, Rotary, etc., where most anybody can join, The American Legion membership is earned through serving our country! It is a privilege. It is exclusive.

Remember your honor of serving this great country is the reason you are able to be a member of The American Legion.

As we focus on recruiting new members, think about “Your Why.” Think of the reasons you are an active member of this organization — for you to feel revitalized and to share that with the new recruits.

Anthony Koop is the commander of the 6th District and a member of Ironton Post 443.