The importance of uniting as an American Legion Family

Posted On: Thursday, 04 April 2024
legion family

Guest blog post by 2023-2024 ALA National Legislative Committee Chair Donna Dillard
In March, I traveled to Washington, D.C. to listen to The American Legion National Commander Daniel J. Seehafer testify before the joint session of the House and Senate Committees on Veterans’ Affairs.  

As we gathered in the chambers on Capitol Hill with an audience consisting of members of The American Legion Family from many states — all coming together to rally for veterans, military, and their families — I felt the hint of pride in knowing that the Legionnaires in attendance were themselves military, who perhaps have benefited from the legislation others pursued before them and they carry on the mission of The American Legion, vowing to help those yet to come.  

During his testimony, Seehafer delivered some of the organization’s areas of focus on its legislative agenda, including The American Legion Family’s important mission of reducing veteran suicide.

His passionate delivery focused on our mission to raise awareness for suicide prevention. In his opening statement, he explained that Be the One was much more than an initiative, focus, or a marketing tool. He stated, “It is our mission to change lives and save lives”.  He went on to emphasize that “it is personal”.  He challenged Congress to Be The One to enhance the military experience by supporting quality of life legislation. He listed numerous veteran-related bills in need of their support, such as bills associated with unaccredited actors who prey on veterans and their families, bills that support payment for all branches of service in the event of a government shutdown, and bills for educational resources, health care, and improved living quarters. He asked committee members to proceed with a plan and further asked Congress to pass a complete budget.  

After Seehafer’s testimony, the panel of committee members asked few clarifying questions, and many reinforced their support of our organization and for veterans, military, and their families. 

Without a doubt, it was evident that the members of the House and Senate Committees had done their homework and were well versed on the legislative priorities that The American Legion had placed before them. It was further evident that the Legion’s National Headquarters staff in the Washington, D.C. office was keeping The American Legion legislative priorities on the forefront of our congressional leader's agenda, assuring they are well informed on the importance of our priorities.   

While watching events unfold during the commander’s testimony and realizing the importance of our presence there, one also realizes how this very important annual event resonates who we are, what we do, and why we matter.  

Past National Commander William Burke stated in a welcome message at a Washington Conference in 1960, "No one has a clearer mandate nor more solemn obligation to participate in the restatement of American purpose than those who laid aside their safety in order that the national purpose might be safeguarded." His words are as relevant today as they were a half-century ago.

The Commander’s Testimony can be viewed in its entirety here

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.