Hello everybody. This has been a long and eventful journey for all. Being your Commander is going to be one of the best positions I will ever have held. I promise you, as your voice and spokesperson, I will NOT let you down. You elected me for this great position, and I will serve you proudly. We must make some changes to keep this great organization moving forward and to continue doing what we do best for the next 100 years.
As we say every year, membership is what keeps us going. With 1.3 million veterans in the State of Florida, we need to be more visible within our communities as our preamble states. We need to find a better way to get our younger veterans and the families more involved in our organization. I feel that the State of Florida is too big for one person to cover. Therefore, I have appointed two Membership Chairmen this year. One Chairman will cover North of Highway 50 and the other will cover South of Highway 50. I have two great legionnaires that have volunteered for those positions. Bob Brewster in the North and Steven Slachta in the South. They will start helping those Posts that have struggled to meet membership goals in the past three years and will assist them one on one with membership.
My charities this year will be PROJECT: VetRelief and Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA). Funds raised will stay in the State of Florida for Florida families and veterans. My goal is to raise $75,000 for the 2019-2020 year. At the 2019 Fall Conference, we will have a Curls for COTA contest where a COTA family member will be cutting hair on stage. At $25,000, the Department 3rd Vice Commander, Michael “Gambler” Raymond, will have his ponytail cut off. At $30,000, Gambler and I will get a crew-cut. At $35,000, my head will be shaved. Click here to donate now.
Thinking outside the box and most of all having fun will lead us to success. Communication is very important for us to succeed in making 2019-2020 a successful year. I have requested for your District Commanders to provide their calendar for publication so that we can coordinate to make sure all events are supported and attended. I have added a Special Events Chairman this year. This position will search throughout the state to find upcoming events being held in different communities to be published locally. This will make us more visible in our communities.
I want everyone to HAVE FUN this year. I believe by having fun the membership will increase the way we want it to. For those who hold a Department level position (Chairman, Area or District), and for any reason feel that they can no longer perform their duties, it is not a dishonor to step down and take a break. As we all know, these positions can be very demanding. We have all volunteered to do a job and we owe it to the veterans in Florida to ensure it is done correctly. Veterans serving veterans.
Again, thank you all. I promise to make you proud as I’m representing YOU, “The Great Florida Family”.
William “Rick” Johnson
American Legion Department of Florida
Service – Honor – Sacrifice
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National Disaster Preparedness Month
Through PROJECT: VetRelief we offer a hand up, not a hand out, to strengthen our service members with dignity and empower them to light the way for the next generation of veterans.