Dear Goodwill Gail,
I have read several articles about The American Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary working together as a family. Our American Legion Auxiliary unit is newly chartered, so we are embarking on new territory. When I bring up working as a family, the Legion post members seem to struggle with the concept. Our unit wants to work together, but the Legionnaires do not seem interested in working together. Our members are not feeling appreciated. How can we convince the Legion members that we can all better serve our missions in the community if we work together?
Hope to Work Together
Dear Hope to Work Together,
Glad to hear your unit wants to work with the Legion as a family. Our family of organizations is much stronger when we work together. Everyone has different skills to bring to the table, so units and posts should use those skills to their advantage.
Sometimes the divide between an American Legion post and the Auxiliary unit may be caused by a misconception of how the Legion and ALA operate. We have separate national headquarters, our finances are separate, and the Legion operates the post home, but we are still one.
In fact, your community probably views you as one organization. When referring to any part of the family, people say, for example, “The Legion is down the street.” Not the American Legion Auxiliary or Sons of The American Legion. The public often refers to all of us simply as The American Legion. Many people don’t even realize there is a difference. Even when they see Auxiliary members at an event, they probably refer to them as The American Legion.
What it all comes down to is showing the public that your Legion post, Auxiliary unit, and Sons squadron are unified as one strong group. Potential members and volunteers may be turned away if they don’t see members working together as one.
So, how can you work together so the community views you as a cohesive group? Your unit members may have to make an extra effort to make a change. Ask the Legionnaires to be part of the Auxiliary events, and volunteer to help with Legion events. Consider creating an event designed for the entire Legion Family and inviting the post members to be involved in hosting. In making this effort, you may find there are some members who do want to work as a family. When others see you working together, they may change their ways to make things more harmonious.
It’s really important for ALA members to pick what they’re good at, and vice versa. You can combine those strengths to make a greater impact in your community. Remember: You are serving veterans, military, and their families. Working in harmony supports the collective missions of The American Legion Family. The people we serve need us. It’s important to demonstrate to your community that you can work well together.
When planning an event, don’t forget to include your Sons of The American Legion and Legion Riders in your family activities. Those members have a lot to offer too!
In the Spirit of Service Not Self,
Need some advice on how to approach conflict within the American Legion Auxiliary? Send your questions to pr@ALAforVeterans.org with the subject line “Goodwill Gail.” We’ll create a pen name for you so that you remain anonymous. Talk soon!
This article was originally published in the May 2020 Auxiliary magazine.