Patriotism and veterans advocacy are so
important to the American Legion Auxiliary
that for more than nine decades, we’ve
been serving, educating and giving
to America’s finest—our servicemen
and women. We answer the call
of Service Not Self.
Historically, Americans have worn poppies in observance of Memorial Day and Veterans Day. While other nations honor veterans in their own way, this year, Congress introduced House Simple Resolution 309 to proclaim the Friday before Memorial Day as National Poppy Day in the United States.
Given the number of aging veterans who served in previous wars, coupled with the needs of our newest veterans of the war on terror, many more of us are caregivers – without even realizing it.
On any given evening in our country, 39,471 veterans are homeless, and 9 percent of those are women, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Through their varied works of art, veterans find healing, acceptance, and camaraderie as part of the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival, a program annually co-presented by the American Legion Auxiliary.
From coast to coast, members of the American Legion Auxiliary leave a lasting impact on veterans, active-duty military, military families, and their communities on a daily basis. We share just a few of the stories about how ALA members continue their legacy of making a difference.
The VA Illiana Health Care System in Danville, Ill., depends heavily on goodwill volunteers like Patti Williamson, who also serves on the American Legion Auxiliary’s national Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Committee.
Did you know you can raise awareness of the meaning behind the poppy and benefit veterans, military, and their families by baking cookies? That’s exactly what an American Legion Auxiliary unit in Peoria, Ariz. has done.
Two ALA members from South Dakota are raising awareness about veterans and the Auxiliary as part of their platforms as pageant winners.
Six veterans, who point out the need to change public perceptions of military servicemembers, share how they’re adjusting to civilian life.
In the wake of 9/11, three military caregivers share how they’re discovering ways to cope with a new way of life and their unique challenges.Read more
Connecting the visual image of the poppy with the sacrifice of service made by our veterans has been the No. 1 goal of the American Legion Auxiliary Poppy Program since its inception in 1921. Typically on Memorial Day and Veterans Day, millions of red crepe paper poppies, handmade by veterans whenever possible as part of their therapeutic rehabilitation, are distributed across the country in exchange for donations that go directly to assist disabled and hospitalized veterans in our communities. The Poppy Program raises community awareness and respect for our veterans by educating Auxiliary members and the public about the symbol of the poppy, memorialized from a line in the poem “In Flanders Fields,” written on the battlefront during World War I by Col. John McCrae.
Learn more about the Poppy program.
Coming home may be the end of one journey for many veterans; it is also the beginning of a new journey to transition to a “new normal.” Helping them get there is at the core of the purpose and service of the American Legion Auxiliary. Members are passionate about providing care and comfort to our heroic U.S. service members who are so highly deserving of everything we can possibly do for them. At VA facilities, Auxiliary-sponsored gift shops and holiday parties have become a revered tradition and valued program. Members, units, and departments also purchase essential equipment and supplies for these facilities.
The Auxiliary joins with the VA as a national co-sponsor of the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival. Through this sponsorship, the Auxiliary supports special visual and performing arts therapies for veterans.
For seven days, ALA Girls Nation senators hold mock Senate sessions which require them to write, caucus, and debate bills; campaign for elected office; elect an ALA Girls Nation president and vice president; and work together to pass legislation. But, the program is so much more than hours spent in Senate.
Pride, democracy, patriotism, growth, inspiration, friendship, and empowerment best sum up the experience of ALA Girls Nation 2016. | 70 Years Later: Celebrating ALA Girls Nation
ALA Girls State
is a unique
young women to
knowledgeable stewards of freedom and
democracy.Read more about ALA Girls State | Visit ALA Girls State on Facebook
Every year, two outstanding girls from each ALA
Girls State program are selected to attend ALA Girls
Nation in Washington, D.C. As ALA Girls Nation
“senators,” they campaign for political office, craft
and debate the passage of legislation, and meet
with their real-life counterparts on Capitol Hill.Read more about ALA Girls Nation | Visit ALA Girls Nation on Facebook | Visit ALA Girls Nation on Instagram
Engaging the next generation to become members in the American Legion Auxiliary is the important purpose of the Junior Activities Program. Junior Auxiliary membership is open to girls from infancy through age 17. The Junior Activities Committee prepares girls to become active adult members of the organization by providing positive volunteer experiences that instill the ideals of the Auxiliary. These girls develop leadership skills while having fun and will hopefully become the future leaders of our organization.ALA Youth Programs Brochure (pdf) | Visit ALA Juniors on Facebook
To recognize and reward the positive actions of our children and youth, the American Legion Auxiliary has two special national awards bestowed to youth nominated by units. The Youth Hero Award recognizes someone less than 18 years of age who performs a heroic act of physical bravery. The Good Deed Award is for youths 18 years of age or younger who have contributed in a special way to society through community service.
If you’ve watched the news, listened to broadcasts, or perused news articles lately, you’ve likely noticed the attention that the American flag is receiving. From stories about misuse of the flag to comments made by the president on the subject of flag desecration, the media coverage, if anything, has helped bring to light the importance of understanding how to properly respect our nation’s flag and the freedom it represents.
Patriotism, the love and devotion to one’s country, is one of the many characteristics that make America a wonderful nation. As defined by Webster’s 1828 English Dictionary, it is also the passion to serve one’s country, either in defending it from invasion, or protecting its rights and maintaining its laws and institutions.
Many of our nation’s veterans need assistance around their home. Elderly or limited-mobility veterans may not be able to take care of all their housekeeping requirements and would appreciate some extra help.Read more
After 15 years, American Legion Auxiliary members recall the terrorist attacks that changed our nation but helped us resolve to work harder on our mission to serve veterans, the military, and their families in a post-9/11 world.
American patriotism is a fundamental value of the American Legion Auxiliary. Americanism programs teach respect for our country and our nation’s flag. Patriotism is learned by seeing it in action. Patriotism is rooted in our character by practicing it throughout our lives. The Auxiliary creates opportunities that all Americans can do to show our respect and set positive examples of living as grateful, patriotic citizens. The Auxiliary provides learning opportunities and instructional resources for important things every good citizen should know, such as learning about the Constitution and flying the flag on patriotic holidays. They also fold pocket flags to send to our troops overseas and present flags to local schools and businesses. The Auxiliary is a member of the Citizens Flag Alliance and advocates for a constitutional amendment to protect the flag by supporting federal legislation and encouraging other people to do so.
To help our country’s most promising young citizens learn firsthand the principles of our free republic guided by the principles of democracy, the Auxiliary promotes many patriotic youth programs, including the Auxiliary-sponsored Americanism Essay Contest, which is conducted in local school systems. We believe promoting a spirit of patriotism by teaching about it develops lifelong respect for what we hold dear – our country and her flag.Download Americanism Essay Cover SheetLearn more about the Citizens Flag Alliance
Making our communities better places in which to live is something Auxiliary members strive for each and every day across this country. Whether it is hosting a stand down to bring vital health and support services to homeless veterans or coordinating a send-off or welcome-home event for a deployed military unit, Auxiliary members are continuously at work in their communities, demonstrating the compassion and heart we have for those who serve our country and give so much. Community Service projects focus on enhancing the quality of life for veterans and their families.
A major outreach program of the Auxiliary since 1926, Community Service also demonstrates our longstanding commitment to supporting the work of American Legion posts and other organizations in providing assistance with blood drives, first aid and CPR training, child safety programs, support for women in shelters, and disaster and emergency preparedness programs. All community projects point toward improving life for our veterans and their families, and the most important Auxiliary Community Service projects involve making donations to and supporting shelters for homeless veterans.
In recent years, the Auxiliary has partnered with the Corporation for National and Community Service to make the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday – the third Monday in January – “a day on, not a day off” for service. Units and departments are encouraged to plan special projects that focus on veterans, military families, or children as part of this national day of service.Learn more about “a day on, not a day off” for service
The American Legion Auxiliary believes education is vital to democracy, and that investing time and money to educate our youth is literally an investment in America’s future. Our Education Program involves fostering learning for children in our own communities, with our main focus on the children of military and veterans.
We know veterans’ sacrifices are the reason we live in freedom. Easing the burden of the cost of their children’s education is one way we can express our gratitude to them. To that purpose, the Auxiliary supports a number of scholarship programs. These include the Children of Warriors National Presidents’ Scholarship, awarded annually to 15 outstanding students who are the children and grandchildren of veterans; the Non-Traditional Student Scholarship, awarded annually to five students who are members of The American Legion, Auxiliary, or Sons of The American Legion; and the Spirit of Youth Scholarship, awarded annually to one Junior Auxiliary member in each of the Auxiliary’s five national divisions. Units and departments are encouraged to publicize the availability of these scholarship programs in their communities and establish new scholarships at the local level.
Educating our communities about the sacrifices of our military is another goal of the Auxiliary. Units and departments are encouraged to participate in our organization’s national education initiatives and those of The American Legion. One of these initiatives, Veterans in Community Schools, is an effort to bring history to life by having local veterans speak to students about their real-life experiences in the military. Other initiatives include collaborating with Family Readiness Groups assisting with special projects for National Guard families, military base schools, and donating school supplies to children in need.Learn more about ALA Scholarships
Auxiliary members step up and reach out to help military families during deployments in very practical ways, such as assisting with their needs for child care and lawn work or by providing a listening ear to a spouse. Members do helpful things such as collecting coupons and sending them to overseas commissaries, hosting send-off and welcome-home events for our troops, providing them with pocket flags, and showing the gratitude of our nation by providing military families with Blue Star and Gold Star Banners. Auxiliary units are encouraged to partner with other organizations that serve the military, such as local USO affiliates and ROTC/JROTC units.
Auxiliary members also assist our communities in times of natural and manmade disasters through Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) courses. These trainings prepare members to act as an emergency response resource in times of natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and blizzards, as well as during manmade disasters. The Auxiliary’s National Security Program works collaboratively with the FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Division, in keeping with a standing agreement.
American Legion Auxiliary National Headquarters