From: Paul Beseler
In a significant legislative victory for the American Legion, President Trump signed a bill on July 30 that declares the United States has been in a state of war since December 7, 1941.
What is it and what does it mean? The LEGION (Let Everyone Get Involved In Opportunities for National Service) Act recognizes the approximately 1,600 U.S. service members who were killed or wounded during previously undeclared periods of war including most notably what is commonly referred to as “The Cold War.” It also opens the door for roughly six million veterans to now access American Legion programs and benefits for which they previously had not been eligible.
Paul Beseler, vice commander within the Department of Wisconsin’s American Legion, said, “Over the years, the American Legion made several attempts to open up membership dates for these veterans otherwise ineligible for membership. One thing most folks don’t realize is the American Legion was chartered by Congress in 1919 following WWI. Congress sets these eligibility dates based on wartime era dates, not the American Legion. We are thrilled this long overdue piece of legislation has finally passed and our doors are now open to these millions of veterans to enjoy the benefits and representation they were previously denied. In fact, there are several smaller towns that simply just didn’t have the number of veterans to even have an American Legion Post. With this passed into law, I think you will see membership in existing posts surge quickly and I think we will be seeing many places with brand new start-up posts. This is a win-win situation for the veterans who were without the representation of an organization of this size and magnitude, and for these communities who will benefit from the many programs the American Legion offers, especially our many children and youth programs. The American Legion is the cornerstone and foundation of many communities, so this is very exciting to see this finally become law!”
The legislation also opens the membership doors of the American Legion Auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion.
The law’s journey began on February 14, 2019, when Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), along with Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) introduced S.504. A companion measure was introduced in the House by Representatives Lou Correa, (D-Calif.) and Ben Cline (R-Va.).
This legislation took effect upon President Trump signing, and those wanting to join can fill out a membership form listing “Legion Act” with their service dates and process it through Department Vice Commander Beseler at 608-525-2669 or firstname.lastname@example.org, any Legion Post or current member, or by contacting Wisconsin American Legion Membership Coordinator Chris Schmidt at email@example.com.