Usually, it’s the dad who helps the kid with homework. In the case of Maryland Legionnaire John Kilgallon and his 19-year-old daughter Mary, it was the other way around. Heading to Indianapolis for American Legion College this week, the Army veteran and first vice commander of Post 60 in Laurel, Md., called upon his Drexel University visual effects major daughter to help him with his pre-college assignment.
He needed to produce a message about how to conduct an American Legion “Buddy Check.” The program, initiated last March by then-National Commander Brett P. Reistad, urges Legionnaires to call upon those who have let their memberships lapse, as well as those members who have simply not been seen in a while, to ask if there is anything The American Legion can do to help them.
It was a learning experience last March for Kilgallon, who afterward asked Mary to help him illustrate what worked, and what did not.
Key takeaways: start early, shorten up the phone script and recruit others to help with the calling (especially important for a post the size of Laurel, which has about 670 members).
Mary spent about 12 hours with a dry-erase marker and white board, drawing and recording her interpretation of her father’s audio explanation of the program. Out of that came a 6-minute video that provides useful tips for posts planning to do Buddy Checks.
He was delighted but not surprised by the final product. “She draws fast … and she is very good,” he explained.
Kilgallon said the actual Post 60 Buddy Check “went relatively well, but a lot of people don’t answer the phone anymore.” He said out of many voice messages left on machines, only a few veterans called back. But those who did pick up the phone “did seem interested in our events. And we did find people who had questions, like, ‘How do I get a hat?’ He was a relatively new member. And, ‘How can I get a lifetime membership?’”
Others, Kilgallon said, simply enjoyed visiting with another veteran and Legionnaire who took the time to give them a call.