Report from the 87th Purple Heart National Convention
By Charles Earthman
Commander, Department of California
The MOPH 87th National Convention was held beneath a swirl of controversy and a cloud of gloom over the financial inadequacies of the Foundation.
The sole task of the Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation is to raise money and fund the Military Order of the Purple Heart. It has failed miserably and is now providing only a trickle of the funds needed to keep the Order running at all. Activities on the national level have ceased, the administrative offices have closed, and all tasks such as membership and managing rosters and other record-keeping have stopped. The Veterans Service Officer program has shut down nationally leaving thousands of veterans’ claims in limbo. Essentially the Order is broke. On top of all of that, the Foundation is suing MOPH and we are counter-suing them. These actions have stopped all possibilities of outside funding until these legal actions are adjudicated in federal court on September 23. What a mess.
Amid this cloud, Patriots came to the Chateau on the Lake in Branson, Missouri, for an abbreviated version of this year’s national convention. The convention was cut short by a lack of funding and was cancelled--and then put back on again--for three instead of five days. Many of the social events that normally are staged at the national convention were cancelled.
The Patriots that were able to attend attempted to conduct the business of a normal, annual national convention. The Bylaws and Financial committees conducted their business, which at this time did not have the urgency or importance they would normally carry. Given National’s inability to disseminate information, I have not yet gotten printed or electronic information on any changes to the bylaws. The proceedings by these committees seemed like an orator reciting the Gettysburg Address in a sinking lifeboat. Not very important.
Elections were held for national officers, as is mandated by the bylaws or the constitution (I don’t know which one it is). The election and what we are going to do in the immediate future held the interest of all the body. Patriot Felix Garcia of Texas was elected Commander and Patriot Paco Elizalde of Colorado was elected Senior Vice Commander. Patriot James L McCormick of West Virginia was elected Junior Vice Commander. Most positions were uncontested, however there was a little last minute drama when Patriot Rick Cherone changed from running for Commander to running for the Senior Vice position--a move which probably cost him that seat. The other contested position was the Region VI Commander’s position; in that contest Jim Anderson was overwhelmingly defeated by Ed “Mac” McGlynn of Arizona. Paco Elizalde, James McCormick, and Mac McGlynn are new to the leadership team and we all hope they will have success where others have not been so lucky. It’s uphill from here because there is only Hell below.
This convention started with cost cutting as the central theme with Patriots having to pay their own way to the convention. Many had made travel arrangements before this was revealed and which created some financial discomfort for some. It’s time to trim the fat and get to work. We’ve got to be upfront and truthful if we want this grassroots effort to work. There is no other way if we are to stay alive as a proud and venerated organization of combat-wounded veterans who have given so much for their country.
Today we are faced with some real financial hardships for the national organization. While some Chapters and Departments remain solvent and in good condition the national office and some other departments and Chapters that had depended on funding from above (the Foundation) are in trouble. There has even been talk of funding from the bottom up instead of top down. While I and a few others are ready to do what we can to help in this effort, I am meeting with some resistance from Chapters not ready to give up their hard-earned cash to a national that has sometimes been tough on them.
But this is no time to squabble among ourselves, it is all hands on deck as the enemy (our demise) is at the gates. We must and we shall rebuild the Military Order of the Purple Heart. There is no time for frivolity and half-assed efforts by those who say “I couldn’t or can’t”, that cannot be a part of our vocabulary. We have a lot of work to do, so let’s get to it.