Every year in July, hundreds of American Legion Family members from all over Texas meet and elect new officers for the coming year.
Work on budgets and plans, as well as reporting results of the hard work done by members and volunteers, is sent to the national office, which in turn reports to Congress.
This year, the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Texas had some great results. It is a team effort making an incredible impact by donating $60,000 to cancer research fellowships, $5,000 to the National Creative Arts Festival for disabled veterans, $5,000 to the PTSD Foundation of America, $2,000 to Operation Homefront, numerous scholarships, children’s programs and much more.
Although Lufkin has not donated to some of these programs in the past, we have had a major impact on our local veterans and many of the patients at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Hospital in Houston.
About some of our programs:
■ Children & Youth Program. The Children & Youth program emphasizes protecting, caring for and supporting children and youth, particularly those of veterans’ and military families. We are working to get more activities for the youth in our area to teach them more about Americanism, patriotism and being part of a military family.
■ Youth Hero Awards/Good Deed Awards: This is a way the ALA can recognize youth in our communities who demonstrate good citizenship, either through a brave physical act or a good deed. ALA No. 113 has awarded seven of these awards since 2006 in Lufkin.
■ Community Service Program. This program covers a lot and overlaps with most other programs. Showing and giving our support and providing knowledge to our veterans, their families and our local community. Look around — you will see us at parades, festivals, city of Lufkin and chamber of commerce events.
■ Education. Part of our Education Program is scholarships. For every Wreaths Across America wreath sponsored, part of the $5 they return to us goes into our scholarship fund. This year we were able to give 10 $500 scholarships to well-deserving children of veterans from several area schools.
There also are many other scholarships available to veterans, their spouses and their children on our Department of Texas level, as well as many on a national level.
The education program also offers flag etiquette instructions, flag folding and several programs on Americanism and patriotism, including some essay competition on a local, state and national level.
■ VA&R (Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation). This is by far one of our largest and most active programs, which includes making and serving sandwiches several times a month to the patients at the local VA Clinic, as well as serving special treats during the year, including homemade Valentines by area children.
Partnering with the Sew & Sew Sisters at the Angelina County Senior Citizens Center, we furnish lap robes, wheelchair and walker bags, ditty bags, trech bibs, hug and heart pillows and more, which are taken to the Michael E. DeBakey VA Hospital in Houston on a regular basis.
At least one of our members spends several hours a week visiting veteran patients in area nursing homes. Other services for veterans also are part of this program, and as we get new volunteers and members, we hope it will continue to grow.
Many of our programs overlap each other. For example, as part of our Community Service and VA&R program, we partnered recently with Angelina/Beautiful Clean to repurpose used greeting cards and made new cards that will be sent to our troops serving in harm’s way (Because We Care Troop Support), as well as patients in the VA Hospital in Houston.
Next month, find out more about our Girls State program and Junior Activities, as well as other programs.
To learn more about who we are, what we do and why we matter, come visit one of our meetings on the first Monday of each month at 5:30 p.m. at the (American Legion Post No. 113) Angelina County Senior Citizens Center, 2801 Valley Ave.