Over the last few months I have had the opportunity and privilege to review and certify your Post’s Constitution & By-Law (C & B) updates. 

During the course of most of these reviews I came across a “trend” where it appears that some Posts are placing a greater emphasis on their Executive Boards than the actual Membership input. On November 12, 2017 I sent the following email out regarding this issue:


Ladies and Gentlemen,
I hope everyone had a safe Veteran’s Day and I thank all of you for your service.
Over the last few weeks The Department has experienced some Posts who have apparently attempted to “weaponize” their Executive Committees as a method and means to deal with personal/ personnel issues within their Posts. 
So let me take this time and reiterate what I stated at the Fall Conference:


Executive Committee

“…the government and management of the post is entrusted to the executive committee…is further charged with hiring such employees as may be necessary, authorizing and approving all expenditures, requiring adequate bonds from those with custody of post funds, hearing reports of post committee chairpersons, and generally managing post affairs”.  

DELEGATION OF THESE FUNCTIONS TO THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE IS IN NO WAY INTENDED TO USURP THE POWERS OF THE MEMBERSHIP THROUGH REGULAR POST MEETINGS. Rather, this allows the routine operational affairs of the post to be handled outside of post meetings. Committee reports of general interest to members should be given at post meetings…”  

The Post Executive Committee is the vehicle that ” steers and directs” the Post in accordance with the established Constitution, By-Laws and The American Legion Programs. 

The Post Executive Committee is not a monarch within a Post and has no special privileges that over rules the Post membership who always has the final word. Please get this word out to all of your Posts. 
So the first issue that I’m asking the District Commander’s to pass to their respective Posts is that Executive Committee(s) should not be written into any Post By-Laws in such a manner where they appear to have or have more powers within their respective Posts than the Membership.    

The second issue is the fact that some Posts are turning in C & B’s that are not following the “suggested form” and consequently bypassing information that is required to be in these documents. 

In the past The Department allowed a variety of formats as long as the Posts had essential information within their 
C & B’s ; however it has become apparent that “creative writing” has taken the place of “required information”. 

So as of this date, The Department will no longer “certify” any C & B’s that DO NOT follow the suggested formats that are NOT in accordance with The American Legion’s example contained in the reference listed below:      

REFERENCE: The American Legion 2017 Officer’s Guide And Manual of Ceremonies // Suggested Form For Post Constitution Pages 108 through 110 // Suggested Form for Post By-Laws Pages 110 through 113.
While this might seem a little harsh and unproductive to some of you, The Department would like to point out that at The Department’s 93rd Annual Department Convention in Roanoke, VA on July 14-17, 2011 The Department By-Laws Article IX, Section 1. was changed to read “In order for the post to be presented their permanent charter, the post MUST BE incorporated and have a constitution and bylaws in place”.  

At the time of this writing The Department can ONLY verify less that 50% of the Posts within The Department of Virginia as having the required Articles of Incorporation (AOI) in place. This is despite the fact that we have been asking for a copy of every Post’s AOC over the past year- something that should have been verified and completed 7 years ago.
The administrative burden to produce the required C & B’s and AOI does not fall upon The Department but the individual Posts’ themselves- specifically the Post Adjutant’s Office. So here’s the short answer:
  1. If you have a current Post AOI and have not sent it in to The Department for “verification” you are now officially “late”.
  2. If you have a current C & B  it can remain in place and is considered acceptable; however if your Post is selected for a  Department “audit” or is the subject of an “inquiry or investigation” the format of your C & B will be reviewed to ensure that it remains within the guidelines of The American Legion’s administrative requirements.
  3. Once again, if your Post’s C & B are not in the proper format they will not be reviewed for content until they meet that minimal requirement. If your Post’s are re-doing or updating their C & B’s then it’s time we did them the correct way once an for all.
  4. That requirement to present a “correct” C & B is the responsibility of the Post Adjutant NOT The Department.


Joe Vaccaro
Judge Advocate