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SERVING OUR VETERANS: The American Legion turns 100

By Staff | Nov 22, 2019

This year marks the 100th anniversary of The American Legion. The Legion is an organization of U.S. war veterans headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. It is made up of state, U.S. territory, and oversees departments. These in turn are made up of local posts, such as Rugby Post #23. The number 23 indicates Rugby was the 23rd local Legion Post to be chartered in the State of North Dakota. The Legion organization was formed March 15, 1918, in Paris, France, by a thousand officers and men of the American Expeditionary Forces (A.E.F.), and was chartered September 16, 1918, by the United States Congress.

The Legion played the leading role in the drafting and passing of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, more commonly known as the G.I. Bill. In addition to organizing commemorative events, members provide assistance at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals and clinics. It is active in issue-oriented U.S. politics. Its primary political activity is lobbying on behalf of interests of veterans and service members, including support for benefits and pensions and the Veterans Health Administration. It has also promoted Americanism, individual obligation to the community, state, nation, and peace and good will. Boys State and American Legion baseball are two of their most notable sponsorships. The Legion motto is “For God and Country”.

Membership in the Legion was originally restricted to U.S. soldiers, sailors, and Marines who served honorably between April 6, 1917 and November 11, 2018. Eligibility was subsequently expanded over the years to include seven time periods during times of war. This left some gaps for veterans who served during peacetime. Recently, on July 30, 2019, President Trump signed the Let Everyone Get Involved In Opportunities for National Service (LEGION) Act. This bill declares the United States has been in a state of war since December 7, 1941. This reduced the number of war time periods from seven down to two. However, since there are no longer any living World War I veterans, there is in reality only one time period for Legion eligibility. This opened the door for approximately six million veterans to access American Legion programs and benefits for which they previously had not been eligible. To summarize, to be eligible for Legion membership requires only that the veteran served at least one day of active military duty since December 7, 1941, and was honorably discharged, or still is serving honorably.

I encourage all veterans who have served, or are serving in our military today, to join a veteran service organization such as the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), American Veterans (AMVETS), or the Disabled American Veterans (DAV). The common bond and comradery these organizations provide is very appreciated by its veteran members. Please contact me should you have any questions regarding eligibility.

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