An e-mail recently sent to The American Legion’s Family Support Network read, “I am currently in Afghanistan, and I am worried about my children’s safety.” A Massachusetts National Guardsman and father of five learned that a section of his backyard fence had fallen down. With a busy highway only a few feet away, the children’s only play area became a safety concern. The local post responded by repairing the fence at no cost to the family.
The Family Support Network is ready to provide immediate assistance to U.S. military personnel and their families whose lives have been directly affected by the war on terrorism. As National Guard and Reserve units are mobilized in record numbers, the families of these men and women often find themselves unable to meet normal monthly expenses and needing assistance for a variety of everyday chores like grocery shopping, child care, mowing the grass, fixing the car and other routine household jobs.
To address these issues, The American Legion has a nationwide toll-free telephone number for servicemembers and their families to call for assistance. Requests can also be made online. All inquiries are referred to the department in which the call originated. Departments relay the collected information to a local American Legion post. The local post then contacts the military service member or family to see how assistance can be provided.
Since the creation of the Family Support Network during the Gulf War, thousands of American Legion posts have responded to meet these families’ needs. Posts are reminded that families in financial need with minor children are encouraged to call the Temporary Financial Assistance program at National Headquarters to assist. Otherwise, it is up to local posts to provide or develop the resources necessary to meet the need.
Nearly 3,000 requests through the Family Support Network came to National Headquarters in 2009. Most cases are handled locally, without notification or involvement from the national organization. Creating an ongoing and active relationship with local military units allows posts to respond immediately when needs arise.