It was a pleasure to talk with many of you at the Spring Conference this month.
I was asked several times what I was seeing as issues within The Department of Virginia as the Department Judge Advocate and I wanted to provide an accurate answer.
I went through my notes for the past several years (2014 to present) and came up with the following information:
45%- Discipline issues/ Membership problems within the Posts/ questions on Article IV Discipline
25%- Alleged theft/ misuse of Post property/ Gaming issues on Bingo & Bar games/ Actual theft
20%- Constitution & By Law questions/ Questions on elections/ Issues with Post Audits
10%- General membership concerns that range from the bizarre (i.e. not getting a second helping of chicken at the Friday night dinner) to the mundane ( i.e. can an SAL member sign-in guests) to the “I can believe that happened” (i.e. a Commander sending his legionaries home with ceremonial rifles because he didn’t know where to store them).
The biggest situation that I’m seeing at the Post’s regarding that 45% is when the Post’s leadership is not addressing problematic issues and events in a timely manner.
In most cases the leadership fails to act and the issues and events fester over time.
This usually leads to “intramural firefights” within the Posts where it undoubtedly spills over into the social quarters or the SAL or ALA and eventually to The Department.
When the issues and events reach this level we usually see the “misuse” of the Post Executive Committees with them attempting to stop a problem “by decree” vice “due process”.
While I understand the concept of safety in numbers it still doesn’t meet The American Legion’s standards of Article IV Discipline.
My suggestion is that the District Commanders stress that all Post Commanders and staff familiarize themselves with Article IV Discipline and follow the steps listed therein for membership problems.
The keys to resolving these problems are quick action, transparency, fairness and due process.
I hope this answers your questions and concerns.
Have a great week.
the Department of Virginia