VFW Ladies Auxiliary Has Tradition of Military Support

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 19, 2007 - Since 1914, members of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Veterans of Foreign Wars have supported U.S. servicemembers and their families and worked to ensure that America's military veterans are never forgotten, auxiliary officials said.

Today, the auxiliary's almost 600,000 sisters, daughters, wives, mothers and grandmothers carry on that tradition, Cara Day, director of communication and publications at the organization's headquarters in Kansas City, Mo., said.

"Auxiliary members support troops in a number of ways," Day said, including the sending of care packages to overseas-deployed military members, "adoption" of military units, sponsorship of servicemember-support programs at schools, and other programs.

The group partners with America Supports You, a Defense Department-sponsored program highlighting the ways Americans are supporting the nation's servicemembers.

"Everything we do is centered on honoring our veterans and helping them in any way possible," Day said. "Being able to share with 'America Supports You' what the nearly 600,000 members of this organization do for veterans and servicemembers is just one of the many ways we hope to tell them that we're here for them."

The Ladies Auxiliary also donates money to Operation Uplink, which provides free long-distance phone cards to servicemembers serving in Afghanistan, Iraq and other locales, Day said.

The Unmet Needs program is another auxiliary-sponsored initiative, Day said, where anyone can donate money that's used to assist military families in need by providing funds for mortgage payments, medical or grocery bills, car repairs and other purposes.

The Ladies Auxiliary also encourages skilled people like mechanics, lawyers and baby sitters to donate their time to help military families whose sponsors are deployed in support of the war against terrorism, Day said.

Most auxiliary members are in their 50s and 60s and thereby old enough to remember America's participation in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Gulf War, Connie Atkinson, the auxiliary's national secretary and treasurer, said.

"It's important to support the families of veterans, whether we're at war or not at war," Atkinson said. "We are the mothers and sisters and daughters of veterans and we know what our servicemembers and their families are going through today.

"They need all the support they can get. They need to know that America cares for her veterans," she added.

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