INDIANAPOLIS, IN. – The American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) launched today a national service project aimed at building volunteer capacity to alleviate poverty among veterans, military service members, and their families. The ALA announced the initiative, the American Legion Auxiliary Call to Service Corps VISTA Project, at its annual convention in Louisville, Kentucky, and as a component of the ALA's observance of Safety and Security Week within President Obama's United We Serve national service initiative.
The American Legion Call to Service Corps VISTA Project is one of only five national, multi-site AmeriCorps VISTA projects funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the economic stimulus law enacted earlier this year. “The American Legion Auxiliary is privileged to have been designated the exclusive AmeriCorps VISTA national sponsor organization for reaching veterans and military service members experiencing economic crises,” said Executive Director Mary “Dubbie” Buckler. “With our 90-year history of service to veterans and their families, we are well prepared to assist them address the contemporary economic challenges they face.”
Joining the ALA to celebrate the new project was Katie Stam, Miss America 2009, also an ALA member. Eric Tanenblatt, a member of the board of directors of the Corporation for National and Community Service, participated on behalf of the federal agency for service.
“We pleased to join forces with ALA to support their vital work to help veterans and military service members facing poverty improve their economic conditions,” said Tanenblatt. "We salute ALA and these AmeriCorps VISTA members for answering the call to service at a time of great social need."
The project launch included the swearing-into-service of 17 AmeriCorps VISTA members – volunteers committing one-year of full-time service – assigned to the ALA to work on the project. The ALA's AmeriCorps VISTA corps includes three veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, three other veterans, five family members of veterans and military service members, recent college graduates, and individuals with prior full-time volunteer experience. “We are grateful to these Americans for their obvious love of country and their willingness to freely serve our nation's veterans, military service members, and their families,” said Buckler.
The ALA Call to Service Corps VISTAs are part of 13,000 new AmeriCorps positions funded by the Recovery Act. The collaboration with the American Legion Auxiliary is part of the Corporation for National and Community Service's efforts to increase support for veterans and military families, both as participants in and recipients of service.