Service networks | The American Legion

Ninety years ago, the American Legion’s National Security Commission encouraged the Posts to form amateur radio groups in support of civil defense. Posts across the country became involved in amateur radio at this time, and the American Legion Amateur Radio Network was soon on the air. This “network”, unfortunately, became almost obsolete in the 1960s.

Today, however, many positions are enjoying a resurgence in amateur radio that began in 2011 with the nationwide start of the American Legion Amateur Radio Club (TALARC). This nationally sanctioned program, which is open and free to all members of the American Legion, American Legion Auxiliary, and sons of the American Legion who are licensed amateur radio operators, has been refocused and promotes now amateur radio among the posts as an avenue for community service with an eye toward increasing Legion membership.

The purpose of serving the community is a large part of the life of the American Legion. As an organization, community service should be a mainstay for every position. There is a reference to this at the end of a regular post meeting when the commander reminds us, “Let service to the community, state, and nation always be a primary objective of the American Legion and of its members. It was a precept of the organization when it was founded, and it is still the basis of our existence almost 103 years later.

There are a number of examples of how a Legion post can serve its community through amateur radio. One is at Danville (Ky.) American Legion Post 46 as part of the partnership they formed with the Wilderness Road Amateur Radio Club. A ham for over 40 years, TALARC member and then post commander Tony Cromwell chose to offer his help to this local club which lost its home in a nearby building. As commander, Cromwell recognized his position’s ability to accommodate the organization, gain members, and advance one’s mission. This realization led to the Wilderness Road club becoming a post-approved activity. “A valuable community asset has been saved and will now become an American Legion post resource to provide emergency communications support during natural disasters,” he noted.

As Cromwell and Post 46 members recognize, the formation of a club is essential to the expansion and extension of Legion volunteer service throughout a community. The first, however, is the requirement for eligible persons to band together into an American Legion Amateur Radio Club with the approval of their station leadership.

In TALARC’s first year, membership numbers were modest with several hundred individual members and 13 post-supported clubs. Today, nearly 5,000 members and 57 post-supported clubs make the American Legion Amateur Radio Club one of the largest in the nation.

Amateur radio is an interesting and enjoyable hobby as well as an invaluable resource “when all else fails”. When extreme weather, natural disasters or other disasters strike and power lines and cell phone towers are knocked out, amateur radio has always stood up to serve communities across the country. There is also a more relaxed, visible and regular use of amateur radio, and this is done by increasing communication and safety efforts at parades, marathons, outings and other public or Legion-sponsored events in your region. These opportunities are just a few of the many things a Post and its members should consider when considering supporting an American Legion Amateur Radio Club within a Post. The possibility of strengthening the list of members of the position is also to be considered.

For more information about TALARC, amateur radio, how to acquire an FCC license, or to join the American Legion Amateur Radio Club, see the TALARC website at www.legion.org/hamradio.

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