Time to Be Heard
By J. MICHAEL McGRATH, National President
When I laid out my priorities
as National President last
autumn, one of the top three areas
on which I wanted Navy Leaguers
to focus was legislative affairs, in
particular, our Grass Roots Legislative Initiative.
Our push to inform U.S. lawmakers about the issues affecting
our maritime services has never
been more important. The Navy
League’s 2008-09 Maritime Policy
Statement, “Preserving Sea Power:
A National Imperative,” an executive summary of which can be
found on page 45, highlights the
significant underfunding of our
It calls for top-line funding to be increased, noting
that “a Defense budget of 4 percent of the Gross
Domestic Product is the minimum to ensure that all
our Armed Forces are ready to fight and win our
The best way to make an impact on lawmakers is
through the people who elected them — you, a constituent and proud member of the Navy League of the
The Grass Roots initiative was launched in 2005 and,
to date, 111 members of Congress (MOCs) have been
given the initial presentation. Dubbed “Presentation
One,” it focuses on introducing the Navy League to the
lawmaker and the importance of a robust naval fleet.
Congratulations to those of you who have reached
out to your representatives. For Presentation One, the
total number of first contacts made to MOC offices
stands at 200. These are great numbers, but we can do
so much more.
Our Legislative Affairs Committee is now rolling out
Presentation Two, which focuses on supporting the
Coast Guard’s Deepwater modernization program.
When a Region reaches more than 60 percent of its
MOCs with Presentation One, training will begin on
this new presentation for a second round of MOC visits.
I applaud Rocky Mountain, Lone Star and South
Atlantic Coast, which are our top-performing regions.
As of March 4, Rocky Mountain and South Atlantic
Coast hit 82 percent and 63 percent, respectively. As of March 11,
Rocky Mountain reported that it
gave Presentation Two to one MOC
and Lone Star added one more
MOC contact to its Presentation
One tally, hitting 67 percent.
What are some of the reasons
behind such success? For Dan
Branch, Rocky Mountain’s Region
Vice President (RVP) for Legislative
Affairs, it “was primarily due to making it a Region priority, and then following up daily to get the contact
calls made and meetings scheduled.”
He found that the key was to
appoint a team of dedicated individuals representing each state in his region, which
served as a strong foundation on which to build Rocky
Mountain’s Grass Roots effort.
Still, best intentions don’t always end in a meeting
with the MOC.
Dan notes, “We had to make many contacts with the
congressional schedulers and staffers to get the meetings
scheduled. In some cases, it took 15 contacts before a
meeting could be arranged in the home district office.
Perseverance and multiple contacts each month by the
RVP pushed the process along, and the dedicated support of all the individuals involved made it work.”
You can read other success stories and more about
the Grass Roots’ Presentation Two on page 44.
Getting started is the hardest part, and I’m sure
some of you are thinking, “Why would my senator or
representative want to hear what I have to say?”
He or she does because the message you have to
convey comes across loud and clear when voiced in
concert with other Navy Leaguers in your Region. Our
Legislative Affairs Committee and support staff from
National Headquarters are dedicated to getting you the
training you need to reach out to these lawmakers and
make yourself heard. The rest is up to you. ■