The Legion Act corrects an historic oversight

Dear Editor:

The American Legion has just celebrated our 101st anniversary and at times in between wars and conflicts after World War II we have turned away many honorably discharged Veterans especially our Cold War Veterans because of the way our Congressionally chartered war time dates were mandated by Congress.

This past year The American Legion petitioned Congress with what we called the “Legion Act”, which states that if you served and were honorably discharged or currently serving honorably in the Armed Forces of the United States anytime after December 7, 1941 shall be entitled to membership in The American Legion.

The Legion Act 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.

President Trump signed bill S.504 into law July 30, 2019. The legislation opens the door for hundreds of thousands of veterans to access American Legion programs and benefits for which they previously had not been eligible.

“Today’s passage of the LEGION ACT is a victory for veterans who until now have not had their service to our nation fully recognized. These veterans and their family members can now enjoy all the benefits of their service which they so richly deserve.”

The gaps in the war era were largely during the Cold War, a time when threats to U.S. national security was real, especially to the men and women serving in uniform. Overall, estimates show that about 1,600 U.S. service members were killed or wounded in hostile operations during periods that were not previously recognized as times of war by the federal government.

“The American Legion appreciates the support our representatives have shown the veterans who were previously caught in the gaps.” Especially our Congressional Representative Albio Sires who supported The Legion Act. This also underscores the passion American Legion Family members have for our nation’s veterans. Their grass-roots advocacy for this bill has been inspiring.”

“As we celebrate our centennial anniversary, we hold to the same truths that our founders appropriately crafted a century ago. Among those: a veteran is a veteran. It does not matter whether a veteran fought enemies on foreign soil, protected our interests in an ocean far away or secured our national defense here at home. Their service is what matters most. Now, thanks to this legislation, all veterans will be properly remembered for their service.”

Mike Wilson
Bayonne Post 19