President Donald J. Trump signs S. 504, the Let Everyone Get Involved in Opportunities for National Service (LEGION) Act Tuesday, July 30, 2019, in the Oval Office of the White House. Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour
The American Legion
Jul 30, 2019
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.
The American Legion sought the declaration as a way to honor approximately 1,600 U.S. servicemembers who were killed or wounded during previously undeclared periods of war.
The LEGION Act (Let Everyone Get Involved In Opportunities for National Service Act) also opens the door for approximately 6 million veterans to access American Legion programs and benefits for which they previously had not been eligible.
“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.’”
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 Nov. 11, 1918, and Dec. 7, 1941 to a time later determined by the federal government. No other restrictions to American Legion membership are changed.
The law’s journey began on Feb. 14 when Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., introduced S. 504, along with Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C. A companion measure, H.R. 1641, was introduced in the House by Reps. Lou Correa, D-Calif., and Ben Cline, R-Va.
Reistad expressed gratitude to the bipartisan members of Congress for passing the legislation.
“We are grateful that President Trump fully acknowledges the importance of The American Legion by signing the LEGION Act in the White House today – just one week after it passed the House of Representatives,” Reistad said. “In an era of partisan gridlock, Republicans and Democrats in Congress overwhelmingly recognized the importance of allowing thousands of honorable but previously ineligible veterans the right to join the largest and most influential veterans organization in the country.”
Reistad pointed out that existing American Legion membership applications are in the process of being updated but can still be used. “In the meantime, I recommend that prospective Legionnaires and recruiters write ‘LEGION Act’ in the eligibility date section of American Legion membership applications if they fall outside the previous war eras,” Reistad 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 as well.
L to R: 2ND VICE COMMANDER, BILL CHRISTY, INSTALLATION OFFICER, POST DEPARTMENT COMMANDER, CHAIRMAN NATIONAL CEMETERY, RICHARD NEVILLE, COMMANDER RONDALL BROWN, SERVICE OFFICER LARRY SAMS, CHAPLAIN, CARL MAXWELL, FINANCE OFFICER, MARK RUNGE, 1ST VICE COMMANDER MITCHELL SHIELDS,SERGEANT OF THE GUARD, PHIL CANTLEY, JUDGE ADVOCATE, JACK GREVE, ADJUTANT, FLOYD PHILLIPS
POST HISTORIAN GEORGE LEDUC (MISSING FROM PHOTO)
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The American Legion was chartered by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veteran’s organization. Focusing on service to veterans, servicemembers and communities, the Legion evolved from a group of war-weary veterans of World War I into one of the most influential nonprofit groups in the United States. Membership swiftly grew to over 1 million, and local posts sprang up across the country. Today, membership stands at over 2.4 million in 14,000 posts worldwide. The posts are organized into 55 departments: one each for the 50 states, along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, France, Mexico and the Philippines. Over the years, the Legion has influenced considerable social change in America, won hundreds of benefits for veterans and produced many important programs for children and youth. Following is a chronology of significant dates in Legion history: History of Post 177 & Post 532 Hayesville’s First American legion Post, named after Robert Napoleon Roach, who was killed in action on October 22, 1918 during WW I in France. He is buried in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial in France. On July 30, 1927, a meeting was held for forming a Post of the American Legion. All men that served any time during the World War at home or abroad being eligible, were invited to be present. An application for a Charter was filled by the following; Bascom Neal Haigler, George B. Thompson, Robert M. Tiger, Roy Smart, Will Taylor, Bynum Penland, Carl Parker, Allen Bell, A.B. Ledford, Carmen Anderson, Wayne Anderson, Dent Nelson, Gad Nelson and Walter Burch on July 30, and accepted by the national organization on August 2, 1927. At the August 26, 1927 meeting the first officers were elected; Post Commander-Bascom Neal Haigler, 1st vice Commander-George B. Thompson, 2nd Vice Commander-Will Taylor, Adjutant-Allen J. Bell, Finance Officer-Marvin Alexander, Chaplain-Roy Smart, Historian-Claude C. Long, Sgt-at-Arms-Henderson Setzer. In 1936/37, the Post was no longer active. On August 22, 1940, a group of ex-servicemen got together to reorganize the Bob Roach Post 177. The Commander- Arthur Jones, Vice Commander-J.N. Alexander, Adjutant-Allen J. Bell. On Saturday October 19, 1946, The War Memorial on the Hayesville Square, was dedicated to those who gave their lives in the two World Wars. The Commander, Vernon F. Martin, of the Bob Roach American legion Post 177, conducted the ceremony. The black draped stone was unveiled while the Legion Boys Choir sang “My Buddy” with piano accompaniment by Mrs. C.E. Standbridge. The American Legion Charter for the Bob Roach Post 177 was cancelled two years later in October 1948. In summer of 2008, Veterans of Clay County, applied for a Charter to form a new American Legion Post in Hayesville, to be named after George Lee. Mr. Lee passed in December 2008, he was a prominent Clay County resident, a World War II Veteran and recipient of a Purple Heart. He had also been a member of the original Bob Roach Post 177. On January 17, 2009, an American Legion Charter was presented, establishing the George Lee American Legion Post 532