Lorna Ledoschuk, Chairman
email address: email@example.com
The Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation program was formed to initiate sponsors and participate in programs and services that assist and enhance the lives of veterans and their families, ensuring restoration and/or transition to normally functioning lives physically, mentally, socially, and vocationally.
Coming home may be the end of one journey for many of our veterans; it is also the beginning of a new journey to transition to a “new normal.” At the core of the purpose and service of the American Legion Auxiliary is helping them get there. Auxiliary members are passionate about providing care and comfort to our heroic U.S. servicemembers who are so highly deserving of everything we can possibly do for them.
Last year, the American Legion Auxiliary invested 927,000 volunteer Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation hours in our veterans and contributed more than $3.4 million toward meeting their needs through the Auxiliary’s Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation efforts. Auxiliary members serve hospitalized, handicapped, and homebound veterans in Veterans Administration (VA) medical facilities, veterans’ homes, and nursing homes, as well as in the veterans’ own homes.
At VA facilities, Auxiliary-sponsored gift shops and holiday parties have become a revered tradition and valued program. Members, units, and departments also purchase essential equipment and supplies for these facilities.
The Auxiliary joins with the VA as a national cosponsor of the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival. Auxiliary members also support special rehabilitative programs for our veterans such as Ride 2 Recovery. The Auxiliary’s Poppy Program provides therapy for handicapped and hospitalized veterans. By handcrafting Auxiliary memorial poppies, veterans can earn supplemental spending money through through memorial poppy sale proceeds.
Whatever a veteran needs—job assistance, transportation, food, clothing, etc.—Auxiliary volunteers will do their best to provide it. With some troops currently in combat operations, others designated as “advise and assist” brigades, and many of our volunteer soldiers serving multiple deployments, our mission to assist veterans and their families as they transition back to civilian life has never been more relevant than it is today.
Christmas Gift Shops Many Units sponsor Christmas Gift Shops where Veterans in the VA Medical Centers or State Veterans Homes can shop for gifts for their family members. These gifts are provided at no cost to the veteran and are shipped to anywhere in the U.S. Be generous, have fun with the patients and make shopping for their families a fond memory for our veterans!
Field Service With the ever-changing VA system, the Field Service Volunteers are becoming more and more important. We encourage you to recruit VolunTeens! They do qualify as Field Service Volunteers! The VolunTeen must be under supervision of an adult member of the American Legion Auxiliary. The youth of today have a lot to offer and our Veterans will appreciate their enthusiasm. Field Service Volunteers are required to take the Field Service Orientation Course. A suggested course is shown in the Guide for Volunteers. Remember a good rule of thumb – if you can touch a veteran and they are not in a VA Medical Center – it is Field Service.
Fisher House Fisher Houses are located around the world to provide temporary lodging in a “home away from home” setting for members of our armed forces and their families. Most Fisher Houses are built on military bases so that the families will have easy access to everything they need. Started in 1990 by Zachary Fisher and his wife Elizabeth, this program has saved our military families millions of dollars each year in lodging and transportation costs. How can we Help? By providing support to your local Fisher Houses – bring in meals, provide pre-paid phone cards, donating bread, soup and other staples – there are lots of ways to assist. The holidays are NOT the only time help is needed. Contact the home nearest you and find out what their needs might be. Monetary Donations to the Fisher House Foundation will help build new Fisher Houses, but will not stay in your local area. All donations to stay in Washington, should be sent directly to Department Headquarters.
Home Service In 1974, we started to record volunteers hours and costs of materials and supplies donated by our volunteers in their own homes. Home Service is defined as: Hours spent include time spent sewing, knitting, cooking, shopping for materials and supplies and other services performed by the Volunteer in her own home. Recognition of Home Service Hours comes in the form of a Home Service Pin for 50 hours and Home Service bars for 500and 1000 hours.
Homeless Veterans The VA estimates that there are more than 275,000 homeless veterans and that more than half-a million veterans experience homelessness over the course of a year. We can and should male a difference in the lives of our homeless veterans. Work with your elected officials and homeless veteran providers to find out what is being done an dhow you can help. Sometimes financial assistance is needed. Sometimes donations or manpower is needed. Stand Downs are major events where volunteers reach a large number of homeless veterans. They are provided with a nutritious meal, warm clothing, medical, legal and mental health assistance, job counseling and referral and a place to get a good nights sleep. A great source of information on our homeless veterans is available at the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans we site at www.nchv.org.
Hospital Volunteers Volunteers at the VA Medical Centers play a key role in supplementing the care that is given to our hospitalized veterans! Whether a regularly scheduled volunteer or an occasional volunteer – you are very important to the welfare of our ill veterans. NEWS has come in from the V.A.V.S. that hours served in State Veterans Homes will now count as V.A.V.S. hours!!! Get the word out in your Unit!
National Creative Arts Festival This program is an annual event that provides veterans receiving treatments at VA facilities the opportunity to participate in art, music, dance and drama as part of their therapy. It is a celebration of life, achievement, self-confidence and triumph over adversity for many of the participants. In past years more than 3,000 veterans from over 100 VA facilities have participated. The Department of Washington supports the VAMC in Seattle and/or Tacoma at American Lake. Help is needed to set up and break down of the displays. You can also send your donations to Department Office earmarked for the Creative Arts Festival. The Creative Arts Festival makes a significant difference in the lives of the participating veterans and it deserves our attention!