THE DEPARTMENT OF VA CHAIN OF COMMAND & REPORTING POLICE ISSUES- JANUARY 18, 2018

Since every Post is autonomous, The Department’s job is to maintain oversight on issues that could potentially have an adverse effect on The American Legion and provide information, suggested direction and assistance to all 213 Posts contained within The State of Virginia.

The Constitution of The Department of Virginia, ARTICLE IX. POSTS reads ” The smallest administrative unit of The American Legion of The Department shall be termed the “Post”. 

While this is certainly no surprise to anyone reading this email it has become apparent that many of the Posts out there are not following their Chain of Command when it comes to issues such as:
  • Recruiting
  • Disciplinary issues
  • Membership
Over this last reporting period we had a few instances (i.e. recruiting and membership) where the Posts have gone directly to National Headquarters on issues that could have and should have been directly handled by The Department leadership.
So let me make this clear in the most polite way possible- Please follow The Department’s Chain of Command that starts with the Post and travels to The District and finally The Department. 
This doesn’t mean that you can not contact National Headquarters if you believe something appalling has occurred within The Department and MUST be reported out for the “good” of The American Legion.
However, there’s not one “everyday” issue that I can think of that occurs in any American Legion Post in Virginia that requires the Post membership to contact National Headquarters. If someone can think of such an event I’d be interested to know what it is?

BOTTOM LINE– Please use The Department’s Chain of Command so we can all address internal issues at the appropriate level and resolve them quickly and professionally.  
REPORTING POLICE ISSUES 

The Department will not become involved in any ongoing law enforcement investigation(s) at a Post unless it is formally asked to provide information or subpoenaed for that information. The Judge Advocate’s Office will only deal with “internal American Legion matters” unless specifically asked to assist with an ongoing investigation which is extremely unlikely. 
The Department’s criteria for “internal American Legion matters” is very specific and I respectfully ask that all District Commanders provide this criteria to their respective Posts. 
The excerpt below was presented at our Fall Conference in 2016 and outlines what The Department considers “investigative interest” : 
“Joe is more than happy to answer any and all Legionnaire’s questions but requests that any formal complaints be submitted in written form so that The Department can track the complaint and maintain a record of that complaint.
The Department will treat every complaint with confidentiality but if the issue goes to a Post or Department trial that rule cannot apply.
The Department Judge Advocate cannot and will not become embroiled in every Post “intramural firefight” but we will investigate:
A.  Theft of Post Funds or Post Property- $500.00 or more
B.  Egregious behavior- by the Post leadership, elected or appointed officers- that brings negative publicity to The     American  Legion or threatens the local community
C.  Threats against American Legion members or the Post
D.  Any and all investigations directed by the Department Commander or the Internal Affairs Committee”
HOWEVER, ANY AND ALL LOCAL, STATE AND FEDERAL INVESTIGATIONS TAKING PLACE WITHIN ANY AMERICAN LEGION POST WITHIN THE STATE OF VIRGINIA SHOULD BE REPORTED TO THE DEPARTMENT ASAP. PLEASE REMEMBER THAT ALL POST CHARTERS ARE THE RESULT OF THE DEPARTMENT (See the Constitution of The American Legion Article III) AND THE DEPARTMENT IS TASKED WITH THE OVERSIGHT OF THE POSTS WITHIN THEIR AREA OF RESPONSIBILITIES. FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THIS REQUEST MAY RESULT IN ADVERSE ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION TO THE POST(S).    

Thanks again for all of your hard work with your Posts.

Respectfully,

Joe Vaccaro
Judge Advocate

 

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