CHENANGO COUNTY – The various members of the American Legion Auxiliary have an interesting – and patriotic – way of spending their free time ... helping veterans. The Legion Auxiliary is the nation’s largest organization comprised of women who support and honor the sacrifice of United States’ soldiers and New York State's Sixth District – of which Chenango County is a part – and are currently looking to bolster their ranks with fresh recruits.
“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,” explained American Legion Auxiliary Sixth District president Diane M. Craig. According to Craig, many people who would otherwise be interested in taking part in the Auxiliary’s work choose not to because they are unaware of what the organization is all about.
“The legion is more than beer gardens,” she said, describing the organization as a support network of veterans as well as a community volunteer program.
Some of the ways in which the local organization helps veterans and their families include volunteering and working closely with the Veterans’ Home in Oxford. Members take turns visiting the home to organize bingo games, help veterans do their Christmas shopping, and just spend time with them. Another way the ladies of the Legion help veterans is by aiding in the development of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder programs. The organization also work with children’s youth programs in conjunction with schools as well as a varied assortment of community work on a need by need basis.
While the organization focuses a lot of its attention on veterans, a term which is in function extended to active members of the armed forces, they also strive to aid the families of veterans.
“When vets are deployed we kind of adopt them (their families),” said Craig. The Auxiliaries try to help families in any why they can, from food and movie tickets to moral and emotional support. Then when the deployed soldiers return they throw them a welcome home party.
Following more than a decade of warfare, there is no shortage of young veterans returning home both emotionally and physically wounded from their sojourn abroad who are in need of the organization’s support.