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someday.” Dave, a Men’s Auxiliary member, encouraged her not to rule it out. “I think you should go for it,” he said.


Just six years later, Colette is beginning that long-anticipated journey. The responsibilities ahead are truly daunting, even “scary” to contemplate, Bishop said, “because I don’t know what’s in front of our organization.” The Auxiliary is facing


unprecedented challenges on many fronts. “If we don’t do something and we don’t do it fast, in 10 years we won’t be here anymore,” Colette said. Members urgently need to connect with the soldiers who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan over the past 10 years and listen hard to what they’re saying, she said. And she thinks gaining that knowledge would be well worth the capital required to employ an outside provider to conduct an objective survey. “We need to find out what those veterans and their families want from an organization like ours, and then we need to give it to them,” she said. Many members, including her,


are nostalgic for the days when three generations of families participated in Post and Auxiliary activities with very little competition. That was another era, however, before families were being pulled in so many directions at once. “We have to find a way to fit into their world now,” she said. And there must be an end to the defensive stance of “We can’t do that – we’ve never done it that way before,” she added.


14 LADIES AUXILIARY VFW MAGAZINE


It’s going to mean “putting forth a modern face.” It’s going to mean offering more in the way of technological communication, among other changes. Colette’s background as an Information Technology Manager since 1986 has already proved invaluable when she assisted the national organization during the search for a new computer system. “I’m excited about what we


could be,” she said. “We could be really visible in our communities so everybody wants to join us. We could be doing these things helping veterans and their families, and it could be public knowledge.” It’s much more difficult to


garner media coverage these days, she acknowledged, necessitating the development of more exciting projects and events that command publicity. “We need to find innovative ways to blow our own horn, do things for veterans that are noteworthy and newsworthy,” she said. “We need to work smarter and not harder.”


“Each generation of our


organization has had something outstanding that made the world know who we are. We haven’t found that lately.” Operation UplinkTM


was


one of those, but it originated in the late 90s. “I think MAP and Unmet Needs are stepping stones, but we’re not working that program enough.” As a National Officer, Colette intends to listen harder and then represent what she hears. “I want to be the voice of the members. I only have so long to make an impact.” n MS


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