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The Civil Defense Program is a follow up of the National Defense Program begun by the federal government in 1950. At that time, there was great concern about civil defense because of the increasing threat of nuclear missiles and chemical warfare brought about by the "Cold War." The National Auxiliary responded to this threat with a program of its own. Beginning in 1952, many units took the lead in distributing civil defense literature around their communities. Some members completed basic or advanced courses in first aid, and others taught members of the community what to do in case of a bomb or rocket attack. In the year 1962 to 1963 alone, Auxiliary members constructed and equipped 1500 fallout shelters, donated 23,100 pints of blood to the blood banks, assisted 692 communities during peacetime disasters, and distributed 474,780 pieces of civil defense literature. All told, its members contributed 1.4 million hours of work and $1,242,000 to the program that year.

As concerns about civil defense lessened, the Auxiliary's civil defense program increasingly turned its attention to dealing with peacetime disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, and floods. Members took first aid courses to prepare themselves for natural disasters, and rallied to provide food, shelter, and blood when necessary. Eventually, as world tensions continued to ease, civil defense activities were discontinued. Today Auxiliary members still stand ready to combat natural disasters - but through the Community Service, not the Civil Defense program.

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VFW 1998 . Created by Lynn - Last Updated 29 Dec 2001

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