SOMERSWORTH — Padraic O’Hare is the first man in the state to become a member of the traditionally all-female American Legion Auxiliary.
O’Hare is honored to assume the gender-breaking role as a member of Unit 69 in Somersworth.
“I’m greatly honored. I really don’t have words for it,” O’Hare said on Tuesday. “These things don’t happen to me. It’s incredible.”
During the American Legion National Convention in Indianapolis this past August, delegates voted to replace the word “wife” with “spouse” in their constitution and bylaws, opening up Auxiliary membership to men.
“As we welcome eligible male spouses into the American Legion Auxiliary, we gain another perspective on the needs of military families – enabling the Auxiliary to support even more veterans, service members and their families,” American Legion Auxiliary National President Nicole Clapp said in a statement at the time.
Officials at the organization say an increasing number of people need their help and allowing both genders to become members of the Auxiliary will make it possible for them to continue their century-old tradition of Service Not Self.
O’Hare is a veteran of both the Navy and Air Force. He said when he and his wife, Dana, were stationed in Japan from 1995 to 1998, he received care packages Auxiliary members put together for service members who are overseas.
“I know how much that means,” O’Hare said. “It was definitely greatly appreciated when we were over there.”
O’Hare says he grew up learning about military service organizations. His grandmother was an Auxiliary president and his grandfather served in World War II.
O’Hare is a former American Legion County Commander for the Department of New York and a National American Legion College graduate. He has been a Legion Post member for 15 years and a Sons of the American Legion member for 39 years.
According to the American Legion Auxiliary, there are currently 1.9 million women veterans living in the United States, and 9 percent of the U.S. military is female.
That percentage of female military members is expected to increase to 18 percent by 2045.