Dear Goodwill Gail,
When referring to our local American Legion Auxiliary, why can’t our members just say Unit such-and-such and NOT Post such-and-such? I have tried to correct people who say “post” instead of “unit,” but they get upset with me. How should I handle this situation?
We Are Units
Dear We Are Units,
You are correct. Members should refer to their local-level American Legion Auxiliary as a unit, not a post. The confusion often happens due to the fact that units are housed inside posts.
Be mindful that the person referring to the unit as a post may not be aware there is a difference. The person may be new or was told it was a post when joining. If the person is never corrected or hears others refer to your unit as a post, they will never realize there’s a bit more to who we are.
The most important thing to remember: be nice when correcting someone and explaining the difference between Legionnaires and the ALA unit members serving alongside them. This educational lesson applies to members and non-members.
For example, if you witness an ALA member say, “I’m a member of Post 123,” talk to the member when the opportunity arises. You can say something like, “I heard you say you are a member of Post 123. Has anyone ever told you that we are part of a unit? The American Legion is the post. Don’t feel bad; it is a common mistake.”
If someone outside of the organization, such as the media, is incorrect, be understanding. Realize it can be complicated for those who aren’t connected to our organization to understand the difference, especially if you’re hosting an event at a post. If you are talking to a reporter, explain that the event is being hosted by the unit, and explain the difference. The reporter will appreciate the clarification. If you see it written incorrectly in a publication, contact the publication. First, thank the person for covering the event. Next, say something similar to, “You may not be aware, but the American Legion Auxiliary should be referred to as a unit, not a post.” Briefly explain the difference and let them know it’s a common mistake. When you’re polite, they’ll likely make it up to you by covering future events.
So, how can your unit help members make it a habit to say “unit”?
- Make it fun! Offer incentives to members who say it correctly. Every time someone correctly says “unit,” enter their name into a drawing for a prize. Consider a prize that includes branding of your unit. The drawing could be held quarterly or annually.
- Unit leadership needs to be the example. Leadership should check social media accounts, websites, newsletters, etc., to make sure “unit” is being used correctly.
- Add an education component to your meetings. This could be a fact that is talked about during a meeting.
- In your newsletters, place a friendly reminder to say “unit” instead of “post.”
- Set up a jar to collect money. If someone says “post” instead of “unit,” they have to donate money to the jar. The money could then go back to the unit.
Old habits are hard to change, so patience is important.
In the Spirit of Service Not Self,
Need some advice on how to approach conflict within the ALA? Send your questions to pr@ALAforVeterans.org with the subject line “Goodwill Gail.” We’ll create a pen name so that you remain anonymous.
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This article was first published in the February 2020 Auxiliary magazine.