A message from the Commander, Department of Ohio:
Members and fellow Veterans,
First, let me say that we had an unexpected change in the finance area. When our previous Finance Officer gave his notice, we had a difficult time finding a legionnaire qualified, and willing to apply for the position. We made a decision to move Tara Henderson into the position. There was very little time for a smooth transition, and recapturing past records has been a struggle. The new Finance Officer has been trying to complete two audits. The 2016 audit was recently completed. The 2017 audit is on its way to completion.
I know that many Posts have been expressing concern about Post credits. The process where members paid online and the Posts were able to use credits to pay membership dues was stopped on 30 June 2017. On 1 July 2017, we went to a system where the Posts would receive credit checks for their pol’tion of the membership dues.
There are three processes happening this year. Some Posts that still mail cards to the Department of Ohio keep their portion of the membership dues, and mail their cards along with National Headquarters and the Department of Ohio’s portions of the membership dues.
Next, the member can pay online with his/her personal credit card. All of the member’s dues goes to National Headquarters. National Headquarters then sends the Department of Ohio their portion and the Posts portion. The Department of Ohio is responsible for sending each post its portion. This generates a credit to the Post.
Now Posts can pay their membership directly to National Headquarters via a computer. This is a beta test system that only Ohio is using. A post can pay memberships directly to National Headquarters. They keep their portion of the membership in house, and send only the portion that National and the Department of Ohio receive. National Headquarters forwards the Department of Ohio their portion. This eliminates any credits to a post.
We realize that we owe Posts credits from the 2017 membership year, and a portion of the 2018 membership year. I apologize for the delay in getting your money to you. When I say that the Finance Officer is working on it, this is an understatement. She really is working on it. She is trying to recreate the records in order to make this happen. This is taking an enormous amount of time, and she also continues with the day-to-day accounting.
The Department is committed to improving the cash flow to the posts. This is why credits will be tallied and paid in full. The Department is taking great care in ensuring all post credits are paid accurately and in full. This is a TOP priority and finance will work diligently over the next few weeks to resolve this issue.
To accomplish this, finance will (1) balance payments received to members renewed, (2) add online renewal credits and duplicate renewals credits to the balance, and (3) subtract any funds due as a result of non-sufficient funds from post checks that did not clear. This will take some time as department processes thousands of checks and cards during the membership year. Moving forward, any under or over payments incurred will be addressed as soon as they occur. Checks written for more than the membership cards received will be deposited and a credit check will be issued immediately. Checks written for less than the membership cards received will be deposited and a notice of balance owed will be sent to the post. Cards awaiting balance owed will be held at department until the shorted payment is made in full. All credits from online renewals will be issued monthly to posts as funds are received from National.
I understand that posts were promised that this process would be complete at the end of the membership year in July and along with the Department I apologize for the delay. Due to poor past financial controls, this issue was not addressed as promised, The department has since instituted new accounting processes and is well on the way in resolving this issue. I, along with the 1 st Vice and 2nd Vice will ensure this issue is a priority and promise you all regular updates until the issue is fully resolved.
Thank you for your patience while we get this problem resolved. We are almost there. You will have your checks soon.
STANLEY A. PLEASANT, Commander
Department Of Ohio
Looking Ahead: A New Year, New Leadership, and Change.
Thank you for electing me as your Department of Ohio Commander. It is a tremendous honor for me to hold this high office. Please be patient with me as I get my feet under me. I am already running.
I believe that membership drives this organization. Without them, we will not continue to exist as the American Legion. Without members, we cannot work the fabulous programs of the American Legion. We need members to hold leadership positions. There are many Posts and Districts that have executive boards that are not complete. It is essential that these positions be filled. We are a service organization. We should serve with compassion and integrity. Our members, and the community deserve these qualities.
This is a volunteer organization. It is very important that we have compassion for our members and all those we serve. Volunteerism also comes with responsibility. We need members to accept the responsibility of working our programs. We need members to accept the responsibility of leading our Posts with integrity. Each post is guided by their constitution and by-law which should be updated periodically. Every member should have access to the constitution and by-laws.
Many of you have served the American Legion in some capacity for a long time. We appreciate your loyal service. However, we must find and mentor people to take our places. We must pass our knowledge on to someone else. Posts are dying because we are not recruiting new members, and not mentoring future leaders. If membership is unhappy with their leadership, you can change that each year by electing new officers. That means that other members must be willing to step up and accept this responsibility. It is your choice.
We are also making Mid-Winter Conference and Department Convention more fun. We have added a recognition dinner at Mid-Winter. We are considering adding a dinner/dance at Department. The dinner/dance is still in the talking stage. And, there is the training piece we continue to improve.
Our membership is on a decline. We must start to turn that around this year. I need your help to start this change. We are working at the Department to help make things better. We have started having training at Mid-Winter Conference and Department Convention to help you understand new concepts, and some old concepts. Please utilize the tools we are providing.
We have several new members on the staff at Department Headquarters. They are aggressively working to learn our processes, and get up to speed. I ask that you please be patient with them. They are all great people.
Thank you for your vote of confidence.
For God and Country,
STANLEY A. PLEASANT