We say the American Legion Auxiliary has a diverse membership … and it’s true! But how will people know it if we don’t show it?
We welcome eligible women from various backgrounds — different races, nationalities, religions, socio-economic groups, physical abilities, age groups, cultures — you name it — to unite as Auxiliary members under the common mission of honoring and helping our veterans, military, and their families, and fostering patriotism and civics among our youth.
Let’s display a true reflection of who we are, and jointly tell the world what we do and why we matter. Let’s display a true picture of the many different types of American Legion Auxiliary members who are unified and dedicated to our common cause.
Members at all ALA levels are encouraged to be as inclusive as possible in all things “ALA”. Include Auxiliary members of all backgrounds in ALA events, programs, and mission outreach. Ask their opinions. Include them in photos, articles, and social media mentions. Take the time to learn about other people’s backgrounds, cultures, and heritage — and share yours with them. Understanding builds strength. As the world’s largest women’s patriotic service organization, we are strong … and we want to remain strong!
It may take a little extra effort to reach out to someone you’ve never connected with before. Make the effort in a sincere manner. Do these things with decency and respect. Please don’t include someone when it’s not relevant solely for the sake of trying to be positive and inclusive. While intentions may be good in those instances, no one wants to feel like a token or as if they are being used.
ALA National Headquarters makes the effort to share the American Legion Auxiliary’s diversity. One visible example is Auxiliary magazine, where including people from all sorts of backgrounds — with relevancy in mind — is a routine practice.
That effort in Auxiliary magazine was not lost on Brie O’Neal, an ALA member in Maryland who was thinking about leaving the organization a few years ago. O’Neal said that, back then, she questioned whether she fit in with the ALA and whether what she has to offer would be valued in the organization.
All that changed when O’Neal started seeing more ALA members of various backgrounds, including members who were of the same race as her, in Auxiliary magazine more often and for relevant reasons.
“It made me feel comfortable seeing members who look like me, and seeing all types of people in our magazine — and it wasn’t done gratuitously or to make a token out of anyone. It showed me that the American Legion Auxiliary welcomes and values people of different backgrounds for what they bring to the organization as individuals who work together toward the same mission,” O’Neal said.
O’Neal decided to give the ALA another chance. Today, she is an active Auxiliary member, holding the positions of the Department of Maryland’s National Security chairman, Southern Maryland District treasurer, and president of Unit 259 in Clinton, Md. O’Neal is also an American Legion Rider and staunch supporter of the entire Legion Family.
One lesson from O’Neal’s experience is the importance of showing, in a truthful and relevant way, the American Legion Auxiliary’s longstanding commitment to membership diversity as it happens naturally — and making all members and eligible potential members feel welcomed, valued, and included.
In the American Legion Auxiliary, we don’t let the differences among us divide us. Instead, we remain focused on the things that unite us as ALA women dedicated to selfless service.
Learn more about us at www.ALAforVeterans.org.