As a member of the American Legion Auxiliary, aiding – and showing appreciation for – many veterans, servicemembers, and military families is a big part of what motivates Vernel Beasha Warren to remain part of ALA – the world’s largest women’s patriotic service organization.
What gives her membership added meaning can be summed up by a positive interaction Warren, of Unit 583 in Eatonton, Ga., had with a fellow Auxiliary member who had recently become a widow. It was an opportunity to support a veteran’s spouse in her time of loss, just as The American Legion Family supported her when her husband Bennie Wesley Warren Jr., a World War II and Korean War veteran, died in 2010.
The interaction between the two women occurred during an ALA Christmas Joy Shop event, hosted by the Auxiliary’s Department of Georgia’s 10th District, at the Georgia War Veterans Home in Milledgeville, Ga. Warren and her fellow ALA member were participating at the annual event that offers veterans at the home the opportunity to pick out two presents to give to their family members (veterans pay nothing for the gifts). Warren was taking photos when she happened upon the recently widowed woman.
“She said to me, ‘Don’t take my picture. I’m just getting myself together. I just lost my husband.’ And I told her, ‘I lost my husband, and thank God for the Auxiliary. Because the Auxiliary became my family, and it’s your family too. You have more than just blood family. You have us,’” Warren explained. “She perked up a bit that day. Since then, she [the recently-widowed ALA member] has participated in every Joy Shop. She has also thanked me for counseling her at that moment because she was devastated.”
Warren said she is inspired by the words President Abraham Lincoln spoke in his second inaugural address more than 150 years ago, months before the end of the U.S. Civil War. Lincoln issued promises to war veterans and their families: “Let us strive on to finish the work we are in to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan.”
American Legion National Commander Denise H. Rohan discusses the promises, and the Legion Family’s tie to it, in an article titled Lincoln’s Promises, and Ours.
A Paid Up For Life ALA member, Warren joined in 2006, the same year her husband became a Legionnaire. Warren has two sons who are members of the Sons of The American Legion.