Bill to expand American Legion membership heads to President Trump’s desk
President expected to sign LEGION Act this week
LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - A bill that would expand membership in American Legion posts is headed to President Donald Trump’s desk.
The president is expected to sign the LEGION Act — Let Everyone Get Involved in Opportunities for National Service — later this week.
According to Legion.org, the bill “fills in the gaps of war eras and redefines The American Legion’s membership eligibility dates, beginning with the bombing of Pearl Harbor and continuing until it is determined the United States is no longer in a state of war.”
For Finance Officer of American Legion Post 113 Donald Baum hopes more veterans will get the recognition they deserve.
“A lot of us in the post here are getting older and we need some younger people and this will close that gap,” Baum said.
Senate Bill 504, also called the LEGION Act will widen the pool for veterans to become members.
Since end of WW2, veterans could only join if they served during a declared war time
It makes them eligible to not only be accepted as members, but also the benefits that follow such as discounts, support, and resources.
But for those veterans whose service fell during periods of time known as peacetime eras, it was a different conversation.
“(It was) disheartening to tell them well yes you’re a veteran but the rules for membership one day active duty during a declared conflict or war you must have served at least one day in that. And when the dates are not there well they’re not eligible. And it was a hard thing to discuss with them especially for the one that really wanted to join,” Baum said.
For several decades, eligibility meant having served at least one day during a war, such as Vietnam. But a lot other conflicts like the Cold War to the Cuban Missile Crisis, are left unrecognized war eras, as a result a lot veterans were denied eligibility.
Baum said, through the bill, the American Legion is hoping to change the requirements.
“The Legion believes, we should honor their service by allowing to join us and that’s basically how all got started,” Baum said.
The LEGION Act would give hundreds of thousands of veterans access to American Legion programs and benefits for which they previously had not been eligible, according to Legion.org.
The LEGION Act, passed the U.S. House and U.S. Senate last week.
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