VFW Auxiliary Illinois
Samantha Schmidgall, President
Department of Illinois
Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary
Hello, I want to “Welcome” you to the Department of Illinois webpage and welcome you to “Believe «Belong«Because” year! I wrote this theme after I realized I had driven throughout the state and at times I would be so passionate that I thought, I belong to this organization because I believe in our Veterans and all the good things we are doing for them! I want all folks to belong, but more importantly to believe they should be a member! To believe the work they are doing is for the betterment of an organization that is founded only on supporting our veterans, their families, and our community.
I want to tell you a little about myself. I joined the VFW Ladies Auxiliary in 1992 under the eligibility of my mother, Frieda. Here is our story. She and my father were married as young Marines. And since that wasn’t enough, they went on to have children while my father served as a gunner in Viet Nam. My mother eventually switched over to the Air Force where she raised three daughters and went on to later serve in Desert Storm in 1991. I can’t lie, my mother wanted to serve to out rank my father! Moving on--her father, my grandfather, served in the Army during WWII. And last but not least, my brother served in the Navy with the Marines also during Desert Storm.
I don’t remember a time growing up when we didn’t have something to do with military surrounding us and pretty much thought everyone’s mother wore combat boots! It is not as rare now for a women to be a career military mother, wife, or daughter, but looking back it was pretty phenomenal when I was growing up. I joined the Ladies auxiliary because I wanted to support by mother but more importantly to support the fact that she was female in a male dominated world. I was proud to be a woman in a woman’s organization supporting our Veterans. We have come a long way in the Auxiliary in the last twenty-five years, even to the part where the organization changed our name and our eligibility! I am still proud to be a woman in an organization that supports our veterans. More importantly, embracing the opportunity to welcome and learn from our new male members!
Our mission is more important today, I feel, as it ever has been. When most of our auxiliaries were instituted, the United States was united on the home front supporting our WWI and WWII veterans. It seems we have changed with the years; why isn’t uniting as important to folks? Many feel the newest generation is the reason but we can’t blame this on one generation rather a society as a whole. We must continue to authenticate the men and women who have gone into the battlefields and now wear the wounds of battle, for some the wounds are easy to see; but for other deeper wounds, not so. We must continue to authenticate and fight for our veterans currently serving to see the America they know and fight for, fights for them! And we must fight for the future veterans, for they are our families, our sons and daughter, nieces and nephews, or grandchildren. And if they willingly give of themselves, there should be an accountable republic here waiting to welcome them home! So we can never rest or grow weary. We can never let the ugly bug of complaisance bite us, and we can never adopt an attitude that we as auxiliary members deserve the glory over our veterans. For some that may be a bitter pill to swallow but we have to stop letting our own agendas control the goals of our auxiliaries, we need to get back to our bylaws and believe in our National programs!
I feel blessed to be from the state of Illinois. The members here have a genuine love and concern for our veterans. I don’t believe the work can be done better anywhere else in the nation, because I have travelled the state of Illinois and I know the quality of the members we have here! I believe that together we can shed the shackles that hold us down and don’t allow us to soar above and lift the Auxiliary up. I believe we can break records of membership growth like never before! I hope you are with me and that I can count on you to be that member that isn’t afraid to break to records, isn’t afraid to recruit new members, and isn’t afraid to humble themselves to the causes of our Veterans for they belong to the Auxiliary because they honestly believe!