What a year it has been (so far) for the American Legion Auxiliary. Since nearly the beginning of 2020, our world has been turned upside down; our lives drastically changed.
But as we have for the past 100 years, resilience is a strong part of who we are. The ALA’s community of volunteers serving veterans, military, and their families has continued to persevere through it all, finding new and creative ways to fulfill our mission. We’ve learned to embrace technology, try different approaches, and help one another in ways we didn’t know were possible.
Earlier this year, several summertime meetings were canceled and/or moved to an online platform because of health concerns related to COVID-19. The American Legion Auxiliary’s largest annual youth event, ALA Girls Nation, was canceled. As the virus continued to sweep across the nation, we knew there could be more cancellations to come.
Every August, we look forward to gathering at our National Convention in a new city, bringing together hundreds of members from across the nation to inspire continued forward momentum in serving our mission. This annual meeting celebrates the administrative year’s accomplishments and milestones while also beginning a focus on the upcoming year.
With the rising cases of coronavirus throughout the country, The American Legion National Executive Committee passed Resolution No. 3 to cancel the 2020 National Convention in Louisville, Ky. A portion of the resolution reads: “Due to the uncertainty of the duration of the disease known as coronavirus (COVID-19), the numerous government regulations being enforced to contain it, and concern for the safety of all members of The American Legion Family, The American Legion National Executive Committee (NEC) agrees that present circumstances constitute sufficient reasons to cancel the 2020 American Legion National Convention.”
This led to the Auxiliary responding in the same manner. Per the National Constitution & Bylaws, Article VI, Section 1: “The American Legion Auxiliary National Convention shall be held annually at the same time and place as the convention of The American Legion for the purpose of electing officers, receiving reports, and transacting such other business as shall properly come before it.”
Although the decision was difficult, the health and safety of all members of The American Legion Family is of the utmost importance and the No. 1 priority of any of our events.
As we prepare to enter the 2020-2021 ALA administrative year, we turned to our Constitution & Bylaws for guidance in these unprecedented times.
After careful review of our C&B and consulting with National Parliamentarian Chris Dickey, the 2019-2020 national officers, chairmen, and committee members will continue to serve in their roles until the 2021 National Convention or upon resignation.
At the department and unit levels, consult your department or unit C&B on what this change means for those officers. National can make recommendations, but cannot mandate changes at those levels of the organization.
Additionally, although the timeline to change national committee structures was scheduled for the 2020-2021 year, that will be postponed — all national committees will remain in place for another administrative year.
Think of this upcoming administrative year as a continuation of our 100th anniversary — continue celebrating, and continue working the mission for our veterans, military, and their families. We will still celebrate our centennial together at the 2021 National Convention in Phoenix.
Heading into another administrative year, ALA National President Nicole Clapp will continue her department visits. The first priority will be to those who had to cancel due to COVID-19 hitting hard in the spring and early summer. Clapp will likely do repeat visits to departments with the extra year/time to do so.
Reporting periods: This will be done on a two-year basis, encompassing the 2019-2021 administrative years. However, impact reports will still be sent in annually. For the most part, awards will also remain on an annual basis. For more information about these changes, see the individual Programs Action Plan files at www.ALAforVeterans.org.
This article was originally published in the August 2020 Auxiliary magazine.