Letter: Legion Auxiliary marks 100th on Sunday

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To the editor:

The ALA Benjamin F. Sullivan Unit #155 of Dalton is proud to announce that the American Legion Auxiliary National Organization will turn 100 on Sunday. This milestone celebration comes a few months after the American Legion celebrated its centennial.

The American Legion was founded after the end of World War I in Paris, France. In September of that year, Congress chartered the American Legion. Several women's organizations wanted to become the official affiliate of the Legion. Instead of associating with an existing organization, the Legion decided to create a new organization with the women most closely associated with members of the Legion. The American Legion Auxiliary was founded at the American Legion's second convention on Nov. 10, 1919. There are currently four Auxiliary units in Berkshire County in Dalton, Adams, North Adams and Williamstown.

Since their establishments a century ago, the goals of both organizations have been to help veterans and their families. Today the American Legion has more than 2 million members. The American Legion Auxiliary boasts more than 600,000 members who spend millions of volunteer hours serving its mission every year. The Dalton Auxiliary volunteers at and donates to Northampton V.A. Hospital, Soldier On in Pittsfield, Soldier On Women Veteran's facility in Northampton, and also sends donations to Chelsea Soldiers Home. In addition, the Dalton Auxiliary contributes to many veterans groups, including homeless veterans programs. The Dalton unit also contributes to many children and youth programs and community projects.

The American Legion Auxiliary has stood alongside the American Legion as advocates for veteran's rights, including passage of the GI Bill, enhancing U.S. Department Veterans Affairs benefits and ending homelessness among veterans.

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In 2019 the National American Legion Auxiliary extended its membership eligibility to include the spouses of women veterans, thereby including male members for the first time. Eligibility is open to the spouse, mother, sister, daughter, granddaughter or great granddaughter of a veteran.

Also in 2019, the eligibility for membership in the American Legion was extended to include all veterans who honorably served in the United States military at any time from Dec. 7, 1941, until the present time.

The American Legion Auxiliary's 100th anniversary is a time not only to celebrate the achievements of the last century, but also to look ahead to our further achievements in our next century.

Gloria Schilling,

Pittsfield

The writer is president, ALA Benjamin F. Sullivan Unit.


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