Guest blog post by Beth McGinn, 2021-2022 National Legislative Committee Chair
Despite the many restrictions imposed by the pandemic, The American Legion Legislative Division Director Lawrence Montreuil reported that the Legion achieved many successes for the first session of the 117th Congress. This included Global War on Terrorism Memorial, Protecting Moms Who Serve Act, and The American Rescue Plan. But there are many more veteran-related bills that The American Legion supports. Visit the Legion website at legion.org/legislative for updates.
Let’s continue the momentum into the second session!
Unfortunately, the Washington Conference will once again be held virtually this year due to limitations placed on in-person meetings. Don’t let that stop your legislative advocacy. Your members of Congress make time for meetings in their home states as part of their duties. The meetings may not be held in person, but they may be available for a Zoom meeting. Contact your local legislator’s office by email or phone call and request a meeting. Ask your department’s Legion legislative chair to join you if they are available.
Before the meeting, familiarize yourself with the Legion’s Legislative Agenda just as you would if you were physically visiting them in their offices. Email the brochure and point papers to their staff before the meeting so that they, too, will be familiar with the priorities important to The American Legion.
If there is a time limit, choose one or two points that are important to you and The American Legion and highlight them during the meeting. Be knowledgeable about the issues and ask for their support. Record their responses on the Congressional Contact Report Form located at legion.org.
Keep in mind, not all our members are on social media or have access to the internet or even have a desire to use the technology available in today’s world. These members can still be involved and help by writing letters or making phone calls when there is an Action Alert issued by The American Legion. Ask other members to print out sample letters for them to use and provide them with the names and addresses of their legislators. Hand out copies of the Legion’s legislative brochure and agenda at your Auxiliary meetings to help them be well-informed about the issues when talking to their representatives.
The American Legion uses VoterVoice as its grassroots advocacy platform. It allows the Legion to contact every member of Congress on national campaigns as well as target specific members on key committees that pertain to legislative priorities. To date, more than 30,000 Legion members and supporters have signed up to receive action alerts. Encourage your members to sign up. Mark Shields, political columnist and commentator, said, “There is always strength in numbers. The more individuals that you can rally to your cause, the better.”
And, The American Legion Family has the numbers – over 1.8 million veterans and voters. We just need to rally them around the issues important to our veterans, military, and their families.
As a reminder when contacting your legislators, they all have an email and/or Facebook pages, along with their phone numbers. There are multiple ways to contact them, so use the way that works best for you!