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US Bill to expand eligibility for American Legion Membership
The Bill looks to allow veterans of unrecognized periods of war to join the American Legion

Published on March 20, 2019

The American Legion Logo

A Bill progressing through the US Congress seeks to allow greater flexibility for The American Legion to allow US veterans of unrecognized periods of war to become members.

The Bill, which was introduced in February by Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), would enable The American Legion to accept membership for US service personnel who were involved in periods of war which are not yet recognized by the US Government. The Bill indicates that "In between those recognized periods of war, during so-called peacetime eras, the United States military has been involved in not fewer than 12 known eras, which are unrecognized by the United States Government as periods of war, resulting in numerous United States personnel combat casualties."

Those 12 known but unrecognized eras involve active US Military personnel are:

• the Greek Civil War "fought in Greece from 1946 to 1949 between the army of the Government of Greece, supported by active military personal of the United States and the United Kingdom, and the Democratic Army of Greece, the military branch of the Communist Party of Greece."

• the Chinese Civil War "which occurred during the aftermath of World War II."

• the Cold War

• the China Cold War

• the Lebanon Crisis of 1958 "which involved more than 14,000 United States personnel and resulted in the death of one member of the Armed Forces who sacrificed his life in service to the United States and five non-combat deaths."

• the Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961

• the Cuban Missile Crisis "which took place between October 16 and October 28, 1962."

• the Dominican Civil War in 1965

• the Iran Hostage Crisis "which lasted from November 4, 1979, through January 20, 1981"

• the Salvadoran Civil War

• "The 11th unrecognized war era involving active United States military personnel started on April 5, 1986, when the La Belle discotheque in West Berlin, Germany, was bombed, killing two United States soldiers and wounding 79 other members of the Armed Forces, which triggered what became known as the Libyan Conflict."

• The Libyan Conflict "led to the 12th unrecognized war era involving active United States military personnel, known collectively as the Persian Gulf Conflicts, which lasted from July 24, 1987, through September 26, 1988."

The Bill explains that at present, "Eligibility for membership in The American Legion is determined by Congress through the establishment of specific dates of declared and officially recognized hostilities in which United States military personnel are on active service." This Bill, if passed, would declare that "it is fair, proper, and reasonable that the privilege of membership in The American Legion should be extended to all military personnel who served on active military duty during all of the unrecognized war eras involving active United States military personnel."

If passed, the Bill would therefore allow US military personnel who took part in operations in the UK and across Europe, as well as other locations in the world, during periods of time which are not currently recognized under existing US laws. This means in particular that Americans serving in the UK during The Cold War would be eligible for membership of The American Legion, and to participate in the many important projects and campaigns that the organization undertakes.

To follow progress of the 'LEGION Act', keep an eye on the congressional web page for the bill via https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/504

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