The American Legion provides life-changing assistance and guidance for veterans, military personnel, their families and communities in thousands of ways every day around the world. Help comes in the form of personal assistance, cash grants, donated goods, disaster relief, labor, networking, volunteerism and advocacy.
Membership eligibility in The American Legion is determined by Congress through the establishment of specific dates of declared hostilities in which U.S. military personnel were activated. Since its founding in 1919, membership in The American Legion has been open to veterans of World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Lebanon/Grenada, Panama and Gulf War/War on Terrorism.
There are at least 12 known combat operations that required an activated military personnel, such as the Cold War, Libyan Conflict and Persian Gulf Conflicts and resulted in about 1,600 U.S. military men and women casualties. However, because these operations are unrecognized by the U.S. government as a period of war, those who served during these time frames are not eligible for membership in The American Legion, until President Donald Trump signed S504 bill (LEGION Act) which will allow membership into the American Legion expand its opportunities. In a significant legislative victory for The American Legion, President Trump signed a bill July 30 that declares the United States has been in a state of war since Dec. 7, 1941.
Now that the legislation has been signed, The American Legion’s eligibility criteria immediately changes from seven war eras to two: April 6, 1917, to November 11, 1918, and December 7, 1941 to a time later determined by the federal government. No other restrictions to American Legion membership are changed. “Recognizing the service of these wartime veterans is the right thing do and it is long overdue,” National Commander Brett Reistad said. “The families of those who were killed or wounded during these wartime acts should take pride in knowing that we recognize their sacrifice and service. Moreover, we are proud to welcome any of the six million living veterans from the previously unrecognized periods into our organization and call them ‘Legionnaires.” The larger pool of veterans now eligible for The American Legion will also open their family members to eligibility in the Sons of the American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary as well.
Anyone interested in joining the Unit 81 Post in Bourbon, Missouri may attend any meeting the last Tuesday of each month or call/contact Robert Rohrer (636-432-9158), Earl Simmerly (573-241-2048) or Ken Crowder (573-259-4190).