There are currently more than 2 million women veterans in the United States, and they are the fastest growing group in the veteran population, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
It is important for American Legion Auxiliary members to show support to these women. One way is to recruit them as Auxiliary members. Eligibility for women veterans in the ALA is unique in that they can be a member through their own military service, regardless if they’re a member of The American Legion. They can be dual members (belonging to ALA and Legion), or they can be solely a member of the ALA or Legion.
Women veterans bring a different perspective to the Auxiliary because they know firsthand the needs of female veterans. Their experience in the military and then transitioning to a veteran may be vastly different from a man’s experience. This can help in your mission delivery in your community.
Some women veterans may be interested in joining only the ALA or only the Legion, where others may want to join both. It is a personal decision on where they want to devote their talents and time, but we shouldn’t shy away from the ask.
“There are some women veterans who don’t connect with membership in The American Legion in their own right,” said Patricia Harris, North Carolina dual member and a 2022-2023 American Legion national vice commander. “Most times, it is based on the American Legion Auxiliary mission and purposes that have more attraction to what type of continued service she views in her wheelhouse.”
Just because a woman veteran is already a Legionnaire, we should still ask them to join the ALA. You never know: She may have not joined because she was never asked or didn’t know she was eligible. Just as she can bring a different perspective to your unit as a veteran, a female Legionnaire can bring a unique perspective as a member of the Legion.
“The importance of women veterans who are also Legionnaires with membership in the Auxiliary is to ensure the voice of the Legion Family is heard and represented,” said Harris. “As a woman Legionnaire who is dual, I was an Auxiliary member first as a Junior. It’s the continuance of a family legacy in patriotism and the education of 100% Americanism. As Legionnaires, we offer a special blend of leadership and knowledge through our service that animates the purposes of the American Legion Auxiliary, i.e., support and advocacy of military and veteran families.”
Harris said it’s important to give recognition to women veterans.
“Recognize that women in military service have a lot to offer relative to the Auxiliary’s mission and purposes — recognition of the fact that if she is married, she is a wife who also can also be a mother. She constantly has a military lens on everyday military/veteran life.”
Harris started her membership in The American Legion Family as a Junior, and it grew from there.
“The ALA was my first beginning. I am the direct product of The American Legion’s successful post/unit family. Here I learned all about the fundamentals of leadership as a Junior Auxiliary member. The ALA’s values worked well with my parents’ teachings, personal integrity, service to God, and our country, respect for others, and being active in the communities,” she said. “I take personal pride in the instruction of those values that led me to the value of service to our country. I served my country, and that made me eligible to join The American Legion. As the second generation in both, it means a family legacy I have passed on to my family. Dual membership to me is having the best of both worlds in selfless service.”
Need American Legion Family membership applications? We have two versions available — color and black-and-white on www.ALAforVeterans.org. We created the black-and-white version to be printer friendly from your home office.
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.