of the American Legion
The American Legion Post, in its infancy, was very much a “community” post. Made up of friends and neighbors, all the members knew everyone in the post, their families and their relationships. The post was a focal point when a veteran or family member was in trouble and the “handup” was always ready and available to everyone associated with the organization. It was a network of friends and comrades that cared for each other and responded.
The Family Support Network is very much the same concept developed in those early days. The difference lies in the expanding population and the loss of the close neighborhood feeling of today’s posts.
The name of The Family Support Network and development of the concept came during the early days of Desert Shield, which turned into Desert Storm and the Persian Gulf War. For the first time in American history, the “total force concept” was activated with out much preparation. While the Reserves, and National Guard units activated were ready for the military mission before it, the military was not effectively prepared to deal with or support the thousands of families left behind during the mobilization. Paychecks were often lost, not forwarded to the family, or, simply, not generated. This was especially true with the Reserves and National Guard.
As a result, the families of these men and women found themselves unable to meet normal monthly expenses and assistance was needed for a variety of normal everyday chores. These chores included: grocery shopping, child care, mowing the grass, fixing the family car and a multitude of routine chores.
To address these issues, The American Legion implemented a toll free telephone number where the service person or a member of their family could call for assistance. The call was then directed to the American Legion Department (state headquarters) from which the call emanated. They, in turn, called on a local post to contact the individual to see if help could be provided locally. And, indeed, thousands of posts responded to meet the needs of these families.
On September 11, 2001, America watched in horror as terrorists attacked America. In response to this heinous act, active duty military have been placed on a high state of alert, and National Guard and Reserve Units are being activated.
As many of these veterans may be suddenly separated from their families, The American Legion Family Support Network has been reactivated.
The Family Support Network Hotline number, 1-800-504-4098, is on line and ready to take calls. As before, calls will be routed to the Departments from which they originate and then to a nearby post. A member of the American Legion Post will contact the caller to determine the need.
Posts are reminded that families in financial need, with minor children, may call on the Temporary Financial Assistance program at National Headquarters to assist. Otherwise, it will be up to the post to provide or develop the resources necessary to meet the need.
The Family Support Network only works if the members of the local American Legion post respond by consecrating and sanctifying our comradeship, with those currently serving or activated, by our devotion to mutual helpfulness. By doing so, The American Legion remains as an organization “Still Serving America.”
Current Family Support Network Procedures:
- A call is received at the toll free number: 1-800-504-4098
- The name, address, telephone number of the caller is collected and reason for call.
- The call is referred to the Department.
- The Department refers the call to a local post.
- The local post contacts the family and provides the assistance if resources are available or refers the family to an agency that can help.
- In the case of financial aid, the post provides the necessary funds or the family may apply for Temporary Financial Assistance if there are minor children in the home.