Why a dues increase is necessary

By Mike Maxa, Adjutant, American Legion Department of Minnesota

Posts, please know the dues increase

Are increases in dues necessary? The increase in dues has a history of occurring roughly every seven years and is a necessary evil. There are valid concerns on membership and what is the future of The American Legion.

Indeed, younger veterans are not joining at the same rate as veterans in the past. Why? Veterans are fragmented among the many new, only-focus-on-one-concern veterans’ organizations in existence, and they fail to see all the many missions the Legion does. At the same time, the Legion too often dwells in the great accomplishments of its past and isn’t hungry for what’s to come.

Mike Maxa

Many young veterans assume the benefits The American Legion has won for them will always be there. So does the general public. However, we know there are interests that would like to spend that money on other things not related to veterans. Without a strong unified voice like The American Legion, veterans’ benefits will fade. The Legion has been instrumental in winning VA benefits related to Agent Orange, Burn Pits, Gulf War Syndrome and other disabilities, as well as expanding the Montgomery G.I. Bill to become the Forever G.I. Bill and more.

Due to the occurrence of inflation, increases will continue. The national increase was planned for the 2026 membership year, but National HQ decided to move it up to 2025 Legion Membership Year, starting July 1 of this year.

I was among a number of department adjutants who were unhappy with their decision, and we voiced our concern and displeasure to the national organization at the National Convention in Charlotte. We received no positive results or a new timeframe for consideration to raise annual membership dues. We also recommended to stay with the 2026-year increase.

Crickets …

After the dues increase, the average cost across the department will be $55 a year. That still is a really good value. That works out to $4.58 a month, which is about the cost of a latte at most coffeehouses nowadays. The $55 members pay receive a free $1,000 life insurance policy (LIT), the monthly Legion Magazine, The Minnesota Legionnaire, discounts at a variety of companies, and, especially, the ability to express concerns on veteran issues to state and federal lawmakers.

Your Department of Minnesota staff members are great stewards of the funds we budget for. We have cut way back on travel expenses. You’ve seen fewer staff travel to department events. We’ve made use of existing office equipment, rather than purchase new items. We don’t do as many bulk mailings and have embraced electronic communications to get the word out. These are just some examples. Still, inflation has outpaced our efforts and negated the savings.

Without a dues increase, the question becomes: Which programs do we cut? We feel all programs are important and serve key purposes for veterans, youth — and our community, state and nation. We already receive support from grants to keep the Legion dues down. We always are looking for new sources of funding, and that includes coming up with a fundraising event and finding additional grants to apply for in the near future to maintain our programs.

No one enjoys paying more for fuel, food, housing, insurance, taxes and other costs; however, inflation happens. But there are options to keep your cost of annual dues in check. The Paid up for Life (PUFL) will lock you in at today’s dues rate with no more annual dues and no dues increases to pay. For more information about the PUFL program, contact customer service at 800-433-3318. Online applications: Visit MyLegion.org to complete an online application.

The three-year option is currently available for our members who have not renewed for 2024. For our members who have already renewed for 2024 the option for you to renew for 2025-2027 should be released by national sometime in January. Take advantages of these options before July 1 to save.

On July 1, the national dues per capita — which means the share of dues going to National HQ — will increase to $23.50. The Department of Minnesota finance committee is recommending a $3 increase to department per capita, which will equal $16.50, and 25 cents will continue go to the Hospital Association at department levels.

The next factor in annual dues is the amount that will go to your districts and the amount that is retained by your post. As I have stated earlier in this article, the average annual membership dues for our posts in the Department of Minnesota will increase from $45 to an average of $55. I highly recommend the posts across the department take a hard look at their annual dues and raise accordingly — I suggest $10 — to prevent being short on dues owed to district, department and national.

In closing, bottom line: We need to promote all the good we do as members of The American Legion and focus on our four pillars. Thank you for all your support and all you do for The American Legion Department of Minnesota!

Mike Maxa of Montgomery Post 79 is the adjutant of The American Legion Department of Minnesota.