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The Military Order of the Purple Heart
SOME GAVE ALL, ALL GAVE SOME

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 activities. 

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 these endeavors.



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