The adjutant is the primary administrative officer for the post and a like the first sergeant of a military unit. Post activities revolve around the adjutant. Most posts retain a good adjutant in the officer over a period of years. The role of adjutant provides continuity for a post. While the commander’s duties are largely inspirational and executive, an adjutant’s duties are administrative and functional. The commander navigates the ship, while the adjutant is the engineer who sees that the ship’s machinery is working and maintained. The adjutant is the personnel officer and personal point of contact for individual members of the post. He or she maintains membership records and minutes of meetings, checks up and assists the work of the other officers and committees, and publishes official orders, announcements and communication with post members. All post records should be maintained and accessible by the adjutant, in a comprehensive filing system. The office involves a great deal of work and attention to detail. An effective adjutant is an essential component of a successful post. Some degree of compensation should be paid to the adjutant, particularly in large posts, due to the commitment required by the role.
Suggestions for the new adjutant
The only indispensable qualifications for the job of adjutant are honesty and willingness. He or she should go through all the post records at the first opportunity. The constitution, minutes of meetings, and reports of officers and committees will give insight into the post’s policies and traditions. Communications from department headquarters will bring the adjutant up to date on instructions. The Post Adjutant’s Manual has detailed instructions on the handling of membership cards, per capita payments and other duties. Every adjutant should have a copy.
First vice commander
In the majority of posts, a first and second vice commander are elected, with membership the primary concern of the first vice commander. While each post is different, a membership campaign should cover certain fundamentals. Look at the methods used in the past. Develop new procedures to improve the methods being used. In a successful post, a new commander is going to contact the post officers and committee chairs immediately after election to schedule a meeting where they can lay out a general plan of operation for the entire year. This is when the membership plan should also be decided. The four W’s of planning • WHO – Who’s going to execute each step necessary to reach the goal? • WHERE – Where do you want to go? What’s the objective? • WHAT – What steps are required to reach the objective? • WHEN – When is the work going to be done? You and your post best know the membership potential in your community. The steps to get there are similar for every post. If you can answer the following questions for your post and community, you have your job outline and know how to reach your goal: • Mailed dues notices will bring in about 80 percent of your current member renewals. Who is going to contact the remaining 20 percent who do not respond? • How are you going to contact and recruit prospective members? Who’s going to contact them? How will new recruits be assimilated into the post?
• Who can be counted on to work at membership and how will they be organized? • What awards or special recognition will be given?
• What special events can be tied in with membership, such as Veterans Day, team competition, contests with other posts, The American Legion’s birthday, etc.?
Membership may be the primary assignment of a first vice commander, but during a normal year, the first vice commander will have many other duties. He or she should become familiar with the ceremonial protocol for regular meetings. He or she will likely be called upon to conduct one or more meetings during the year due to an absence of the post commander. Knowing how to develop an agenda, run a meeting and follow protocol are useful skills to develop. The vice commander should be ready to fill in for the commander at a moment’s notice.
The sergeant-at-arms arranges the meeting hall and assists the post commander and adjutant in preliminary arrangements for meetings, including leading the color detail during presentation and retirement ceremonies. He or she is the expert on flag etiquette and should know proper flag etiquette. The sergeant-at-arms should also play a leading role in the post color guard, burial detail and other pageantry. The sergeant-at-arms is the logical person to chair a welcome committee, which can have a tremendous influence on the post’s image, membership and relationship with members. Every Legionnaire wants to feel part of the group, particularly the new Legionnaire attending his or her first few meetings. The sergeant-at arms must make certain new members are welcomed, introduced and made to feel they are important to the post. The sergeant-at-arms encourages members to attend meetings and advises the commander on who should be acknowledged.
The work of post historian is cumulative. It is wise to leave the responsibility to one person if handled well. There should be close cooperation between the post adjutant and the historian. The former works with records on matters of current interest, the latter on matters of historical interest. The post historian should also keep in touch with the department historian and be prompt in answering inquiries. An annual report should be made to the department historian prior to the department convention. Copies of printed material regarding the post should be deposited in local and state libraries, as well as in the post and department archives. This will prevent complete loss of records through fire or other catastrophe, as well as provide source material for those looking for information about The American Legion. An outline for a one-year post narrative history and yearbook is provided in the appendix (see pages 139-149). The post historian should attend department conventions and make a point of knowing what historians of nearby posts are doing. The department historian can advise post historians on department and national post history contests, historians associations, and materials to assist in maintaining best practices.
The primary duty of the judge advocate is to supply professional advice in the conduct of post business or to procure proper counsel. He is the guardian of the constitutional form of post government. Your judge advocate can also supply valuable assistance to other post committees and officers. The judge advocate should maintain contact with local government officials. The judge advocate commonly has the duty, with others, of auditing post financial accounts. This is done annually, usually before the election of officers, or more frequently at their discretion.