Department of Florida

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Southern Area Commander

August 2021

Southern Area

The last year and a half brought with it challenges that made us face uncertainties in how our future would pan out. This includes whether we would be able to continue to support our veterans, their families, the community, and our own families. During those difficult times, I witnessed true leaders within the 11th District continues to do great work. Simultaneously, I began to identify several with leadership potential, and began mentoring them in becoming the future leaders of the Post, District, Area, and Department levels.

As the incoming Southern Area Commander, I look forward to working with both 9th District Commander Geo Bograkos and 14th District Commander Tom Frank. I will continue to mentor and support our 11th District Commander Harry Malecki in the coming years, as I see him continue to do great things. There are those who wonder how a 6-year member of the American Legion can mentor others. For me, part of the answer lies in going back to when we were all still in the military and becoming an expert in our field. We had TMs, FMs, and AR publications to sharpen our skills in our job responsibilities.

In the American Legion, it is no different. We have the Officer’s Guide, specific manuals for specific job responsibilities, a rule or game book, the Post Constitution and By-Laws (CBL), which every Post, District, and Department has. This is derived from the National’s CBL. In the Post, every member has a say on how their Post is ran, as long as they follow the CBL and have it approved by a majority vote of the membership.

The other part of the answer is heart. It takes a special person to put in all of those hours and not get paid. I’ve been asked: why give a part of yourself and not be compensated? My response: I am compensated by seeing veterans being able to take care of themselves and their families. They are able to give back to their communities and assist others who could use a hand. This is ingrained in who we are, as veterans who are there for other veterans, just as in the military.

My mentors? You, the American Legion family.

As the Southern Area Commander, my first order of business was representing 14th District Commander Tom Frank in the Florida Keys while he was away. I visited all five Posts, installed three, and trained two. It was incredible meeting the members of Key West, Marathon, Islamorada, and Key Largo. They are amazing, and I learned that some things are done differently down there.

Johnny Castro
Southern Area Commander
[email protected]