NEF: A community lifeline

NEF: A community lifeline

As I write this message, the governor of Florida has mobilized the National Guard in preparation of a hurricane strike.  This comes days after military members in Puerto Rico rescued an estimated 1,000 residents who were stranded by floods and catastrophic winds due to Hurricane Fiona. To the north, remnants of Typhoon Merbok damaged thousands of homes and roads on Alaska’s western coastline.

The American Legion is not a first response organization. I leave those designations for police agencies, fire departments, emergency medical technicians and military personnel. But we are a powerful second response.

When a natural disaster hits, it is often an American Legion post or department that is at the center of a community’s recovery efforts. Whether its providing meals for rescue workers or shelter for storm victims, The American Legion has been a lifeline for those who have lost nearly everything.

After Hurricane Hugo pummeled South Carolina in 1989, The American Legion revived its National Emergency Fund (NEF). More than $9 million of direct financial assistance has been provided during the lifetime of this great program. It has assisted Legionnaires and Sons of The American Legion members who have been impacted by declared natural disasters.

The NEF provides nonrepayable grants of up to $3,000 for individuals and $10,000 for posts on a case-by-case basis. Overhead for the program is paid through membership dues, meaning that 100 percent of donated money goes to funding grants.

Following the motto of the Boy Scouts, The American Legion encourages all Legion Family members to “Be Prepared.” Even if your community is not in a high risk area, I recommend you download The NEF Preparation Guide for pointers on what do before, during and after a natural disaster.

Applications for NEF assistance must go through department headquarters and can be found here. The NEF, itself, will not replace your home. But it can help pay for immediate needs such as temporary housing, food, water, diapers, clothes and other essentials. It is just another tangible example in which The American Legion delivers on its “devotion to mutual helpfulness.”

As a New Yorker, I have seen the horrific damage caused by Superstorm Sandy a decade ago and how American Legion assistance made a difference to so many people. Through your support, we can continue to make an impact.

For God and Country,

Vincent “Jim” Troiola

National Commander