By Chuck N. Baker
The American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) is making significant impact in many communities across America. Over the years, the ALA has influenced considerable change, won hundreds of benefits for veterans, helped military families through transition and produced important programs for our country’s youth.
Southern Nevada ALA member Judy Cobb said, “Nationally, we are the largest female patriotic organization in the world with more than 800,000 members. We are a part of the American Legion. We are their counterparts. We are a member of their family, along with the Legion Riders [motorcyclists] and the Sons of the Legion.”
She explained the ALA is like an “all-girl band,” so husbands and sons need not apply. “It’s made up of wives, daughters, sisters and granddaughters, who are generally not veterans themselves,” Cobb said. However, she noted female veterans have special privileges within the group. Female veterans can join the Legion or the auxiliary or double down and join both.
In addition to the ALA, Cobb has formed a male and female Legion youth group. Each month, they pack and send boxes filled with canned goods, health and hygiene items and spices to deployed military organizations. She said she’s been told that overseas military food is not always tasty, and the recipients enjoy adding various spices to their meals. “We’re sort of spicing up their life for Valentine’s Day,” she smiled, back in early February.
The group has a goal of producing 100 nonprofit events throughout its fiscal year, in honor of this year’s 100th anniversary of the American Legion. The fiscal year will end in May with a total of 60 events. Cobb’s Auxiliary Unit has 14 volunteers who held stand-down events twice over the year. Last December, the group paired with members of the Disabled American Veterans and the Blinded Veterans Association to visit with patients at the VA Medical Center in North Las Vegas. “We visited with patients on every floor, and we’ve done that for a few years now.”
Before she was married to Marine Corps veteran James Cobb (“Once a Marine, always a Marine,” she offered), she wanted to do something to help veterans and active duty military. “I wanted to send CARE packages,” she explained. “But I could never get any addresses. I didn’t know how to donate or give money, or whatever. But when Jim and I got married, I joined the auxiliary. It opened up so many doors for me, to be able to give to our men and women overseas and to our veterans.”
The auxiliary also offers temporary assistance to children of veterans who are suffering hardships, donates blood to the American Red Cross and lobbies local elected officials.
There are auxiliary units throughout the State. Annual dues can vary from unit to unit, but Cobb said generally the cost is around $30 per year.
For more information or to arrange to donate funds or items to be sent overseas, individuals can call (702) 871-4414, or email Cobb at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Yes, “yelloww” is spelled with two “Ws”.)
Cobb notes women who do not meet membership qualifications are fully welcome as volunteers. “We have non-military volunteers who wholeheartedly enjoy helping veterans and active duty military and the auxiliary welcomes them with open arms.” It’s a way for non-veteran women to be involved, and for the auxiliary to keep growing,” she said.