Since our inception, The American Legion realized a need to care for and protect our nation’s most valuable resources – our children. In 1925, our national Child Welfare Division adopted the “Whole Child” plan. This provides that “the child of every veteran should have a home, health, education, character and opportunity,” and is founded on three guiding principles:
- To strengthen the family unit against the forces of today’s complex society.
- To extend support to organizations and facilities providing services for children.
- To maintain a well-rounded program that meets the needs of today’s young people.
The National Commission on Children & Youth is at the center of the Legion’s youth-support efforts. The commission meets annually to decide the direction of the Children & Youth Division, which has three main objectives: to strengthen families, to support quality organizations that provide services to young people, and to maintain well-rounded initiatives that meet the physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual needs of our nation’s youth.
Internally managed programs include the Family Support Network and Temporary Financial Assistance. Both provide relief for military families with minor children who are struggling with the challenges of being without a deployed parent. The Legion also maintains Youth Suicide Prevention and Halloween Safety programs.
Externally, the Legion partners with the Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA) and Operation: Military Kids. COTA provides fundraising assistance and support to families with children who need or have had life-saving organ transplants. Operation: Military Kids is a U.S. Army initiative that supports children and youth affected by a parent’s deployment.