Why the public doesn’t know who we are!
How often have we heard Patriots say,
“Nobody knows that the Military Order of the Purple Heart even exists?” I would suggest that if we want to be better
known, we need to find a way to be relevant to the world in which we live. It’s not enough for a Chapter to just have a
meeting, it must also have a purpose. Every
Chapter should have a project or program that contributes directly to the
well-being of their community. In turn,
you give prospective members reason to join and participate in Chapter
While the MOPH has a robust national
public relations program, the key to making the public aware of who we are and
what we do, is Chapter involvement in their own community and continuing
publicity on what they are doing. At the
same time, there is a direct correlation between public relations and the
recruiting of new members to the Chapter.
In order for the Chapter to grow, the public needs to be aware of your
existence. In this regard, I draw your
attention to the excellent article by National Junior Vice Commander Neil Van
Ess in the Nov/Dec issue of the Purple Heart Magazine in which he explains his
own success in recruiting new members.
Through the years, Patriot Van Ess has consistently been the top MOPH
recruiter and has shared some of his methods for the benefit of all. As for national publicity, I am pleased to
report that the Purple Heart Foundation is undertaking a number of new
initiatives that will enhance the Order’s visibility nationally.
Community involvement is the answer to
creating awareness of the Chapter and, by extension, the Order as a whole. It is recommended that each Chapter designate
an officer whose duties include both member recruitment and community
outreach. Seize every opportunity to participate in
community events to publicize your Chapter or Department. Some examples might include Viola drives on
August 7th (Purple Heart Day), participation in parades or other commemorative
events, particularly on Veterans Day, Memorial Day, and Independence Day. The MOPH has a number of awards, like the
JROTC Leadership Award, that recognize other members of the community and help promote
Patriotism; these should always be publicized.
Most of today’s children have limited knowledge of what happened in
World War II, Korea, Viet Nam, or in the Gulf War. They have heard about Iraq and Afghanistan,
but their knowledge is limited to television exposure. Each Patriot has a story
to tell; how we went into battle, what we experienced, and what we learned.
Those subjects are especially of interest to the students and history teachers alike
in local elementary and high schools. Don’t be hesitant to reach out to local
companies and businesses who can help with local fundraising and even
promotion, especially if you offer one of the Purple Heart parking signs
offered by Wounded Warriors Family Support.
Believe it or not, one of the easiest ways to
get the word out about your Chapter or Department is by building good
relationships with your local news media. It only takes a few minutes to “google”
the name of your hometown and the word “media.” In return, you will get
the names and contact information for all of the newspapers, radio, and
television stations in your area. Call each one and ask for the name of the
news editor or reporter who covers veteran issues. Introduce yourself, ask whether they will
accept press releases and Public Service Announcements (PSA’s) by email, and
get a good email address where you can send news about your Chapter. Each Chapter has a number of Veterans with
unique experiences. Call your local
media and invite them to interview those special heroes.
Advent of the Internet has opened myriad
opportunities for communicating with the public. While building a Chapter or Department
website may sound like a daunting endeavor, it can really be fairly simple.
There are many examples of Chapter websites that have been built either by
Members, or donated and maintained by a local provider as a free community
service. There are links to existing Department and Chapter websites on the
National website that you can look to for ideas. However, it is not necessary
or required to go to such great lengths or expense. There are a number of the
new social media outlets that will allow you to do a website for free. For
example, anyone can build a group page on “Facebook,” you can share activities through
“Instagram,” you can do a free blog at “BlogSpot,” you can connect through “LinkedIn,”
or you can even “tweet” with members and followers.
Again, public awareness and member
recruitment go hand-in-hand and it has to start at the Chapter level. That’s how we let them know “Who we are, and
what we do!” Please refer to the “Guide
to Public Relations for the Chapter and Department” in the Procedures Manual
for more detail and examples of PSA’s and Press Releases, and feel free to
contact the National Public Relations Director who can assist your Chapter in