Law change has opened the American Legion's doors to many more veterans

By ANNIE CHARNLEY EVELAND | | Published: August 17, 2019

WALLA WALLA, Wash. (Tribune News Service) — It’s a new day for veterans wishing to join the American Legion.

Legislation signed into law on July 30 opens Legion membership to hundreds of thousands more veterans.

The Let Everyone Get Involved in Opportunities for National Service LEGION Act allows any honorably discharged veterans who’ve served since Dec. 7, 1941, to join the American Legion and access its programs and benefits.

Congress chartered and incorporated the American Legion in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization devoted to mutual helpfulness.

Previously, military veterans who served in periods of peacetime between wars were not eligible for membership, according to a release.

“We are proud to welcome any of the six million living veterans from the previously unrecognized periods into our organization and call them ‘Legionnaires,’” said national Legion Commander Brett Reistad.

A bipartisan effort was made early this year through legislation introduced in Congress in the House and Senate.

When applying for membership, prospective Legionnaires and recruiters should write ‘LEGION Act’ in the eligibility date section of American Legion membership applications if they fall outside the previous seven war eras, Brett said.

“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,” Brett said.

The Legion has several scholarships available: to check eligibility visit legion.org/scholarships

Locally veterans are served by American Legion Walter C. Lee Post 32.

It was named after a soldier who perished from the effects of mustard gas in World War 1. He was a 1st lieutenant with the U.S. Army 146th Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Division.

Before deployment overseas, the 146th was stationed at Fort Walla Walla.

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President Donald Trump signs the Let Everyone Get Involved in Opportunities for National Service (LEGION) Act Tuesday, July 30, 2019, in the Oval Office.