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American Legion Auxiliary
Department of Illinois

Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation

"We Join Together in Serving and Caring for Our Veterans"
Patricia Kowalski

My theme for this is year is “We Join Together in Serving and Caring for Our Veterans”.

What is the purpose of this program and why we do it? The Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation program promotes our mission to enhance the lives of veterans, military and their families.

The National VA&R program has 7 main objectives this year. All of the information I am about to tell you is in the folder and more that will help with Member/ Unit ideas, the SGT-at-Arms and assistants will be handing out the folders to the Division and District President to hand to their VA&R Chairman’s and to please spread the word.

1. Provide opportunities for Auxiliary members to serve veterans and their families as volunteers at VA health care facilities through the VA Voluntary Service (VAVS).

2. There isn’t a VA hospital close to your community? Find opportunities for Auxiliary members to serve veterans in your area. These hours will count toward your Service to Veterans.

3. Assist veterans in accessing VA benefits including, but not limited to, health care. This should coordinate with the local American Legion Post Service Officer.

4. Assist in activities that help homeless veterans.

5. Support rehabilitation and healing of veterans through arts, crafts and hobbies.

6. Help The American Legion, State Department of Veterans Affairs and Chamber of Commerce promote job fairs for veterans and their families.

7. Assist and support caregivers of veterans.

The homeless veterans are a concern to all, for the homeless is increasing yearly. We need to help in all ways we can. Here are a few ideas that could help.

Work with the American Legion in raising funds to help veterans and their families through the Family Support Network for veterans at risk of losing their housing or homeless veterans transitioning to permanent housing. Make payments of overdue rent, utility payments or security deposits. Let’s try to host or volunteer at homeless veterans “stand downs” at a VA facility or at your own home Posts. Contact homeless veteran emergency shelters, transitional housing projects and permanent housing projects in your community and identify the organization’s volunteer and contribution that include;
*Meal preparation and serving
*Collecting clothes and distribution
*Assembly and delivery of hygiene Kits, buddy baskets.

Work with the Community Homelessness Assessment, Local Education and Networking Groups for Veterans, which enhances the care for homeless veterans, provided by the local VA and its surrounding community service agencies. You can help support rehabilitation and healing of veterans through our National Creative Arts Festival. The national, annual competition and festival that recognizes the progress and recovery made through recreation therapy and raises the visibility of the creative achievements of our nation’s veterans after disease, disability or life crisis. We need to increase monetary support by encouraging our Units to please help. I know a few gentlemen who participate and two in particular one paints by using his mouth for his hands are crippled and has other problems and the other gentlemen who is in a wheelchair participates in the wheel chair competitions and even competes in dancing. This program makes them happy for they can do something, and not thinking of what they were able to do before, but what they can strive for now. We do need to remember that many of these veterans have no families but us and these programs.

Help support caregivers of Veterans. Familiarize yourself with the service of the VA caregiver support program. Invite a VA caregiver support coordinator in the VA healthcare system closest to you to make a presentation at your unit, district or community meeting. Familiarize yourself with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation for caregivers. This program The Elizabeth Dole Foundation plays a leading role in raising awareness for the needs of caregivers. These “Hidden Heroes” often provide care continuously, day and night, for caregivers is sometimes the only available, knowledgeable, or trusted person to provide such care.

Please don’t forget to donate to the Six Point Program, and the Fisher House Foundation. – Donate money, donate items from the wish list, and contact the Fisher House managers Holly at Hines and Vennicia at St. Louis for special seasonal needs at the local Fisher Houses.

Now for the Department Awards and make sure to follow directions and observe the deadlines.
Department Plaques:
Teri’s Firecracker’s Plaque – To the Unit for best overall participation in the VA&R program.

Angie’s Angels Women’s Plaque – To the Unit sponsors most unique project in aid to women veterans, be it Hospital Service or Service to Veterans. To be a Narrative of 250 Words.

Carollee’s Cookies Plaque – To the District with the best overall participation in the VA&R Program – Narrative form

The personal awards –
$5.00 Cash To the Unit with the largest donation to the National Creative Arts Foundation.

$5.00 To the Unit for the most accomplished work done with and behalf of the Homeless Veterans in your community.

$5.00 To the District with the most number of Units participating in the caregiver support with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation.

The National Awards will be printed in the ALA today.

For the Mid Year Report, I will need the following information by December
19th, 2016. As part of my narrative report this year National is asking that I include the answers to the following questions so I am asking for the District and Division VA & R Chairman to please get these questions out to your unit VA&R chairman: also include what everyone has accomplished within the first half of the year.
• How did the units participate in the caregiver support program?
• Describe how members earned their Service to Veterans hours.
• What assistance did units give at a stand down? What went well; what would they do differently?

Phone: 309-663-9366
Fax: 309-663-5827
copyright 2013.