American Legion Post 491 McHenry

Youth Programs

Today’s American Legion is as focused on the welfare of our country’s children and the issues facing young people as it has ever been. The structure of this organization is forever supported by the balance that our founding architects envisioned. Therefore, the Children & Youth pillar and its programs remain committed to serving the nation’s youth. Members of The American Legion Americanism Commission’s Committee on Children & Youth have been entrusted with the responsibility of uphold-ing this pillar – the one that braces our nation’s veterans by caring for their children, and our nation’s children.

The purpose of the committee is to formulate, recommend and implement plans, programs and activities designed to:
• Assure care and protection for the children of veterans.
• Improve conditions for all children and youth, with due concern for maintaining the integrity of the family home.
• Prevent social and physical ills of children and youth where possible.
• Maintain a balanced program that provides for their physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs.

The family is the cornerstone of American society; however, modern society places demands on the family that didn’t exist in years past. These challenges can chip away at family strength and unity. The family-emphasis programs of The American Legion’s Committee on Children & Youth aim to promote the importance of family strength and integrity.

The American Legion recognizes that families of active-duty and deployed military personnel face unique difficulties and hardships. With the helpof the Family Support Network, these families do not have to shoulder this burden alone. They can connect with American Legion Family members by requesting assistance through the nationwidetoll-free number or electronic application. Legionnaires at the post level then provide assistance such as performing minor household chores and repairs, completing a Temporary Financial Assistance application and connecting the family with local programs,

Since 1919, The American Legion has been committed to the health and welfare of our nation’s veterans and their families. Born out of this desire to serve, The American Legion established a form of direct aid to veterans’ children in 1925: Temporary Financial Assistance (TFA). This landmark program
continues to be unique in the field of social work today. Through TFA, an American Legion post can call upon the national organization for cash assistance to help maintain the basic needs of children of active-duty servicemembers or American Legion members. Non-repayable grants are awarded to eligible families with a child in need when all other resources have been exhausted.

Alcohol, tobacco, inhalants and marijuana are often readily available and considered to be an entry point to a life of drug dependency and delinquency. They are called “gateway” drugs because they often lead to drug abuse, addiction, and use of other drugs such as heroin, cocaine and LSD. The commission asks that all members of the American Legion Family educate parents and children in their communities about the dangers of gateway drugs.

The Committee on Children & Youth recognizes the serious yet often overlooked problem that continues to plague our nation’s youth: suicide. Suicide is a tragic and senseless act of desperation. While it can be difficult and unpleasant to talk about suicide, it is important to communicate effectively about the subject, know the facts, dispel misconceptions and learn the warning signs of youth suicide.

As long as Halloween activities are sponsored and promoted in our communities by duly appointed and elected officials, the Committee on Children & Youth believes children and parents should know how to make this observance as safe as possible. This publication continues to be one of our most popular.

The American Legion encourages posts to provide or assist in making available child identification activities to give parents a means of providing this information to authorities should need arise. In addition, all levels of the organization are encouraged to increase public awareness of child  victimization and its detrimental effects on children and youth, and to cooperate with credible organizations and agencies that seek to locate missing children in their states and communities.