UPDATE: The criteria for the VFW All-American Leadership Program has changed over the years but the motivation remains the same (20190210)
by Charles M. Pickett
In the wake of founding our new post, the members of VFW New Haven have been busy learning their jobs and discovering the VFW traditions and rituals. However, it is time to transition from the startup to the growth phase (startup, growth, expansion, maturity). Other than retaining and recruiting additional members, how should a new post grow?
- What makes a good VFW post?
- What is the standard?
- How do we measure success?
One way to measure success is the VFW All-American Leadership Program. It exists to “recognize exceptional leadership, authentic accomplishment in membership growth and VFW core programs” according to the 2015-16 VFW National Membership Program PDF.
VFW All-American Post Leadership Criteria
- Designated a 2015-2016 All-State Post
- Greater than 50 members on July 1, 2016
- Membership greater than 100%
- Finish in the top 35 posts in your respective division
The second and third are membership metrics. and the fourth is highly dependent on the second and third metrics. However, the first one needs to be defined. This is from the 2015-2016 VFW Department of Connecticut Membership Program:
All-State Post Commanders Contest DEADLINE: 15 MAY 2016 Provided Posts complete all the programs listed in the Department’s Monthly Activity Report (Poppies, Americanism, VOD, Patriot’s Pen, Community Activities, Hospital, and Commander’s Special Project); and are 100% in membership as indicated in Membership Bulletin #1, two Post Commanders in each of the 10 Divisions (or more if there are ties) will be eligible for All- State Post Commander and have their name entered into a drawing pool from which three winners will be drawn and awarded 100 dollar gift card for the V F W supply store. To be fully credited in the VOD Program and Youth Essay Program, the Post must have run a VOD Program submitting a contestant tape or CD to its District and run a Patriot’s Pen Program submitting an Essay to its District, or make a cash contribution to its District and to Department Headquarters in the amount of at least $25.00 for each of these programs for a total of $50.00 each to District and Department.
Analyzing the criteria, a successful post is expected to participate in the core VFW programs which are listed in the Monthly “Activity & Audit Report.” This report is generated from the “Program Report” submitted by the posts. There are 16 items in the Connecticut report (Auxiliary, VFW National Home for Children, Club, Community Activity, Hospital/Nursing Home Visits, Safety, Americanism, Youth, Poppy, Patriots Pen, VOD, Teacher, CMDR PROJ, Bond, Cert of Liab eff, Insp Rpt., Audit Jun, Audit Sep, Audit Dec, Audit Mar).
This list can be distilled into component programs and program areas with known minimum money/time and fund needed to be considered “complete:”
- VFW National Home for Children | Military & Veteran Families ($25; relief)
- Community Service (VFW Veterans & Military Support $25; relief)
- Hospital/Nursing Home Visits (unknown)
- Safety (unknown)
- Americanism (unknown)
- Youth Activities (unknown)
- “Buddy”® Poppy (order of 1000 at $133 per year)
- Patriots Pen ($25 district + $25 department = $50 OR one entry to district; relief)
- Voice of Democracy ($25 district + $25 department = $50 OR one entry to district; relief)
- Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teachers’ Awards (unknown; relief)
- Connecticut Department Commander Special Project ($25; relief-maybe)
While some are easy to complete, others take some more time, money, and effort. Perhaps a way forward is to establish a “Program Committee charged with supervising the successful completion and reporting of core VFW national and department programs.”