SAN DIEGO - Our military personnel and wartime veterans are always needing to know what resources are available, and that is why Mary Jane Fisher wears her American Legion cover and volunteers to assist them everywhere she goes.
“Access to specific resources is what most of our military and veteran population in the community are in need of,” says Fisher, who was recognized at The American Legion’s 2017 Department of California Convention as the Recruiter of the Year for recruiting 136 new members. “Our transitioning military members and retired veterans are searching for resources. Without The American Legion there seems to be a shortage of direct communication and knowledge about what resources are available,” says the United States Navy wartime veteran.
This is understandable, especially when our warriors have been out of the country for more than 15 years fighting the Global War on Terror (GWOT). “How are they going to learn about what resources are available in their communities, if they do not connect directly with a veterans service organization”? says Fisher. When servicemembers connect to The American Legion they learn about the patriotic organization, which focuses on the Four Pillars, and they start getting involved and learning about a variety of resources.
In 1919, The American Legion was founded on the Four Pillars of Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation, National Security, Americanism and Children & Youth. The four pillars are us and we are them, with over 2 million members nationwide. The American Legion is not only founded on the Four Pillars, but they are known for their focus on service to veterans, all the way to Congress.
The American Legion is the largest wartime veterans service organization in the world. They are much more than American Legion Baseball, Boys & Girls State programs and the Oratorical contests. Every family member of a wartime veteran can become a member of the American Legion Family.
“There’s no better feeling than educating our military servicemembers and veterans about the benefits they earned through being a wartime veteran,” says Fisher.
“Mary Jane has been one of the more active veterans in the state of California for the past two years,” says \Department of California American Legion Membership Chairman Mike Hooper of Browns Valley. “Last year, she was awarded the Silver Brigade membership award for recruiting 28 new member. However, this year she picked the pace up by earning the Gold Brigade membership award, which is recognized for recruiting 50 or more new members”, says Commander Chris Yates, District 22, San Diego County.
She’s been traveling throughout the country and state of California in the past year and sharing the Four Pillars information with her fellow comrades. “Once she learned about American Legion programs and all they do for our military and veterans, that’s all it took,” says Yates.
Fisher visits numerous military bases, college campuses, and veterans hospitals throughout her travels, always wearing her American Legion cover.
She has recently started reaching out to the active-duty Family Readiness Officers (FRO’s) and various Volunteer Service Offices across the region to inform them of the American Legion community service program. In return, the military is volunteering and connecting with the communities they live in. If an active-duty individual volunteers enough service hours they can be awarded the Military Volunteer Service Medal (MOVSM).
Wearing her cover is how people recognize the American Legion veterans service organization from a distance. Fisher is also known as the person who hands out the handheld American flags in the community to people. “When people ask for a flag I always give them one,” says Fisher. The flag and her American Legion cover are a great combination for ice breakers to learn about The American Legion.
When Department of California Commander Gary Leach came on board, he asked everyone to go “Full Speed Ahead” to assist the veterans in connecting with resources and that’s exactly what Fisher started doing.
For the 2018 membership year, Fisher plans to communicate directly with the active duty through online applications, transition assistance classes, community involvement and contacting the veterans who have fallen off the radar through text and email management systems.
The American Legion helped her connect with resources; now she wants to give back to veterans who are looking to do the same. Her main goal this recruiting year is to ask her center of influence to invite just one veteran friend to become an American Legion member.
If you are interested in learning more about The American Legion, please contact the American Legion District 22 recruiting office at 760-908-3550 or visit the American Legion District 22 website at ald22.org.