American Legion National Commander Brett Reistad chose “Team 100” to be the organization’s centennial membership theme in celebration of its 100 years of service to community, state and nation. But what is Team 100?
“If you are a member of the American Legion Family … you are already a member of Team 100,” said Reistad during his opening remarks to members of the National Executive Committee Wednesday at National Headquarters in Indianapolis. “Team 100 refers to the long tradition of American Legionnaires serving their country by advocating for the needs of veterans, a strong national defense, patriotic youth programs and Americanism. Whether you are a longtime (member) or a brand new member of the American Legion Family, everybody has had a part in our century of success and we all have a stake in the future of this organization.”
To raise awareness about Team 100, Reistad is encouraging posts to gather as a Legion Family and video everyone yelling “American Legion Post xxx … We are Team 100!” See an example here. Post the video on social media and tag Reistad in it when posting to Facebook.
“Branding and awareness are important, and they are a part of our strategic membership plan. So in the coming days I know I will be seeing plenty of Team 100 challenges all over social media,” Reistad said.
While nearly 5,400 American Legion posts chartered in 1919 are still active today, Reistad also is encouraging departments to help charter new posts as Centennial Post 2019. He recognized the Department of Alabama for chartering the first centennial post.
This Veterans Day also marks another centennial – the end of World War I. To remember the war's end 100 years ago and the service and sacrifice of America’s veterans, The American Legion passed Resolution 107 during its 100th National convention in Minneapolis that calls upon departments and posts to encourage their communities to participate in the “Bells of Peace” campaign. Bells of Peace calls for the tolling of bells 21 times across the nation on Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. local time. There’s a smartphone app for those who do not have access to bells. Learn more about the Bells of Peace campaign here.
While the sounds of bells ringing will be a solemn observance of a special moment in history, “we must not forget this is still a time of war,” Reistad said. Reistad shared that Spec. James A. Slape of Morehead City, N.C., was killed in Afghanistan by an IED on Oct. 4. He was 23.
“This is the core of why we exist – to advocate for heroes like Specialist Slape and the grieving families that they leave behind. We exist not just to support families of the fallen, but Blue Star families and our American Legion Family, as well,” Reistad said. “And we offer support in all kinds of situations.”
An example is the support shown to those recently affected by Hurricanes Florence and Michael.
“These frequent and powerful storms are reminders of why we must always have a robust and strong (American Legion) National Emergency Fund to help our families (and posts) with essential expenses during times of great need,” Reistad said. NEF funds provide up to $3,000 for Legion and Sons of The American Legion members with an active membership, and up to $10,000 for posts that have been damaged by a natural disaster. “The generosity shown by your departments is very much appreciated, and I know that it will continue during these very difficult times.”
This is the last time the NEC will meet before The American Legion turns 100 in March. “So if we wish to finally turn a corner on membership, now is the time to do it. You do this not by relying on membership notices and direct mail. You get people to (join) and renew because you are directly engaging them,” Reistad said. “There is usually more than one right way to do things and by working together, valuing each other, regardless of war era, service branch or background … we are a stronger American Legion.
“This is truly an exciting time to be a Legionnaire. Team 100!”
More than $24,000 was donated for The American Legion's Operation Comfort Warriors program, which included over $22,000 from the Department of Indiana, during the NEC meeting.