The Ways and Means Commission is the research division for the fundraising and marketing arm of the Department of California’s Veteran Service Officers’ Program (VSO). The funds earmarked for VSO all goes directly towards supporting the VSO program and are never co-mingled or used for outside programs. The Ways and Means Commission researches the various options in raising the needed funds to support, expand, and expose the Department’s VSO program to not only our membership but also non-member Veterans and their families as well as the general public. The research calculates the cost, the required volunteer hours, the return on investment (ROI), the feasibility and effectiveness of the campaigns. All recommended conclusions are brought before the Finance Commission and upon their approval vote, then they bring the recommendation before the Department Executive Committee (D.E.C.) for a final vote of approval. The “Helmets for Heroes” Campaign went through the process and now we are ready to implement the fundraiser. The members of the commission are composed of volunteer Legionnaires, backed by the Department of California’s administrative officers who are also volunteers and sacrifice much as they work hard long hours to insure the success of our VSO program.
The purpose of the “Helmets for Heroes” campaign recommendation by the Ways and Means:
An article submitted and printed in the National Legionnaire by Chuck Camarato –
In 2017 the Department of California generalized the eventual demise of their decades-long staple Ways & Means programs. A continuous steady decline in revenues for their VSO Program forced the department to explore new avenues of fundraising, certainly no easy task given today’s competition in the veterans-fundraising world.
Long-standing programs such as Address Labels, Calendars, Christmas Cards and Sweepstakes have played themselves out, and California has seen steady declines that clearly project their eventual closures.
California had counted on the huge revenue streams for their programs for decades from these staple programs, and being creative for a program that could replace these seemed a very daunting task.
In 2017 an idea was brought forth through a project team for a coin bank made out of a WWII GI helmet. The project team outlined a program by where members and veteran-friendly businesses could both participate. The project was unanimously adopted by the Department of California Fall DEC with an initial investment of $100,000 as seed money for development and production of a first order of 10,000 helmets.
In the pursuit of development, California’s CALVAR Foundation patented three patents for the WWI, WWII and Kevlar-style helmets, along with trademarking “Helmets for Heroes” and “You Bet Your Change Will Help a Vet.”
With a production run in early 2018 of 10,000 helmets, California was able to distribute approx. 2,000 helmets three months before the June department convention at which time we had raised approx. $45,000 in donations. It was clear that the Helmets for Heroes project was off the ground and running. Each year we have seen the return grow expeditiously with increased revenue, new avenues of exposure and participation by members, non-members and businesses. California still has a lot of work to do to fully fund the program, but we are well on our way.
California recognizes that without their VA&R Division, a major pillar of Veterans Helping Veterans will catastrophically cripple the main mission of The American Legion and its relevancy for future generations of veterans.
. . . and thus the continued operation of the “Helmets for Heroes” Campaign!