The American Legion Family has a very strong legislative committee across the country that makes our voices heard on Capitol Hill. Every year, the American Legion sets a prioritized legislative agenda.
American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) members advocate for better care for our veterans in their communities across the country — and community letter-writing campaigns to local, state, and federal officials is an excellent way to do that.
With all the electronic ways of communication available these days, legislators continue to tell us that letters are the most effective method of voicing our position on veterans issues. The power of one letter is good, but the power of dozens, or even hundreds of letters from constituents really makes an impact.
- Craft a message that’s meaningful.
The first step in organizing your letter-writing campaign is to determine exactly what you want to say and to whom.
- Which veterans’ issues are top-of-mind in your community?
- What are the suggested changes that you want to share with officials in your city or state, or in Congress?
- What do your congressional leaders need to know about veterans issues?
You can download a copy of The American Legion’s Legislative Priorities for Congress here: https://www.legion.org/sites/legion.org/files/legion/publications/13LEG0118-Legislative-Agenda.pdf. To view prewritten letters for various Legion-backed causes, visit http://capwiz.com/legion/home/.
This document outlines issues that The American Legion has identified as the most important ones facing veterans, how veterans are impacted, and what Congress can do. In many cases, the document includes the Senate or House of Representatives bill number or proposed legislation. Include the bill number and its name to let your legislators know you’ve done your homework!
- Find the perfect spot to host a letter-writing event.
A low-investment/high-return formula for success is using computers to set up a letter-writing station with electronic form letters or sample letters for people to copy or download and then sign. When organizing a letter campaign, keep in mind that volume beats originality. A handwritten original letter is great, but few people take the time to write one. Ask your local high school, church, or library if they have a computer lab you can use for a day or evening. Write a compelling letter to an official you want to reach, and have it ready for people to customize on your bank of computers.
Make sure you have plenty of envelopes, stamps, and pens on hand so letters can be signed and sealed on the spot. Create a colorful letter box. The action of actually placing the letter in the slot will provide your letter writers with a sense of accomplishment. It also makes a great photo opportunity. Take a photo and send it to your local newspaper. Tweet the picture or post it on other social media to remind people that your event is taking place.
- Look for letter writers.
Finding folks to write issue-advocacy letters may be easier than you think! Promoting your event in your local newspaper, or even a marquee sign, are great ways to bring letter writers to you. But don’t forget to reach out to others on their own turf.
- Talk to teachers at your local schools, and ask that students in history, government, social studies, or even keyboarding classes write letters as a class project.
- Talk to senior citizens groups. Many are meeting anyway and would welcome the chance to help you out in your worthwhile cause for veterans and military.
- Community clubs such as Kiwanis, Rotary, and Lions are already civic-minded, so why not collaborate?
Make sure you take time to explain to letter writers why veterans issues are important, then thank them for their participation. Most people want to help and make a difference. They’ll be glad you asked them to participate!
To learn more on how you can advocate for our veterans, visit https://www.alaforveterans.org/advocate/.
Have you written your legislators recently? Now is the time!