Caring for those who care for others

Posted On: Friday, 12 November 2021

Caregiver Appreciation Day is Nov. 13 
Caregivers go above and beyond to take care of those who can no longer take care of themselves. They sacrifice so much to care for others. These women and men should be recognized every day — but an extra emphasis is placed on Caregiver Appreciation Day, Nov. 13. 

According to a recent Rand Corp. military caregiver research study, there are approximately 5.5 million military and veteran caregivers in the United States. Of those 5.5 million, approximately 1.1 million are caring for veterans and servicemembers who served after 9/11.

In fact, many of these caregivers are members of the American Legion Auxiliary. This focus on caregivers ties in with our mission, as well as the focus for the 2021-2022 administrative year. 

The mission of the American Legion Auxiliary includes honoring the sacrifice of those who serve by enhancing the lives of our veterans, military, and their families. One way we can honor that sacrifice is to recognize these unsung heroes and help to make sure they have the resources and support they need to take care of their veteran.

Many of our Auxiliary members are already doing this important work, and most without even thinking about it. What better way to carry out our mission than caring for those who care for others?

To further emphasize this focus, American Legion Auxiliary National President Kathy Daudistel has chosen this direction for the 2021-2022 ALA administrative year. It took a few different personal experiences combined to help her realize an emphasis on caregivers would be a good fit.

“I wanted to do something we already do,” she said. “We are already caregivers. This is something the Auxiliary can work on forever.”
To further prioritize caregivers, members should be on the lookout for announcements on upcoming ALA Academy Live courses. One such webinar is already available in the ALA Academy: Mission Delivery through Caregiver Support (member log-in required). 

Recognizing caregivers in ALA departments
In addition to recognizing caregivers Nov. 13, through the ALA’s Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation program this administrative year, we will recognize a deserving military or veteran non-paid caregiver in every Auxiliary department. During Daudistel’s department visits, she hopes to personally acknowledge them. 
“We know they are there, and we really want to bring awareness to the caregivers and connect them to resources,” she said.    

Young ALA members get opportunity to learn through caregiver patch 
Focus on caregivers is important at all levels of the organization, down to our youngest members. As part of the ALA Patch Program, a new caregiver patch is available for Juniors and Sons of The American Legion to earn.
“If they are a caregiver themselves, I hope they learn some valuable skills that they can use in their role as a caregiver,” said Kristin Hinshaw, senior program coordinator at ALA National Headquarters. “If they are not a caregiver, I hope they can learn how to support their friends who are.”
The new patch is geared toward ninth- to 12th-graders. There are 10 activities, and five must be completed to earn the patch. 
Following are some examples of activities for the caregiver patch:

  • Prepare a first-aid kit for your home or the home of an elderly relative. Discuss and inspect its contents with an adult. Evaluate it for completeness. 
  • If your American Legion post home does not have an AED (automated external defibrillator), prepare a report on why it should have one. Ask the post commander and unit president if you can present your findings at a meeting.  
  • Write a short essay on how you can support a caregiver or what support you need if you are one. 
Check out the Junior Activities page for more information on activities youth can complete to earn the caregiver patch.  

By Sara Fowler, Staff Writer 

ALA Mission

In the spirit of Service, Not Self, the mission of the American Legion Auxiliary is to support The American Legion and to honor the sacrifice of those who serve by enhancing the lives of our veterans, military, and their families, both at home and abroad. For God and Country, we advocate for veterans, educate our citizens, mentor youth, and promote patriotism, good citizenship, peace and security.