June 19, 2019
Ed Berti | The Mint Hill Times
The Senate did some work recently unanimously passing a bipartisan bill named the Legion Act on June 11th. The bill will expand membership eligibility for the American Legion so that all veterans can become eligible to participate in membership. The bill is also known as the National Service Act, sponsored and introduced by Senator Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina, and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona. The bill was introduced on February 14 in the Senate.
The American Legion’s membership periods are chartered by Congress, therefore the organization is prevented from expanding membership eligibility without congressional support by an act of Congress. The act will allow the expansion of membership eligibility to all honorably discharged veterans who have served in unrecognized times of war since World War II.
The American Legion National Commander Brett Reistad testified on Feburary 27th of this year before a joint hearing of the Senate and House Committees on Veterans Affairs. The top executive of the organization requested Congress to take action amending the current charter, thereby opening the door to tens of thousands of veterans giving them access to the American Legion benefits and programs these veterans have not been eligible to receive currently and in the past.
Many veterans have served this nation since World War II. A significant amount served honorably defending our country during times not officially recognized as periods of war by the United States government. If the Legion Act is passed by Congress and signed into law by the President these new eligible veterans will have the opportunity to join the American Legion and receive the same benefits and recognition available to other veterans who served during official wartime periods.
The American Legion provides important resources to our veterans, however, only those veterans who served during the formally recognized conflicts can be Legion members today. The new legislation once it becomes law will correct this flaw and will ensure all veterans have the opportunity to join the organization.
With a new American Legion Post forming and submitting an application for a Temporary Charter to establish a new Post in Mint Hill since 1994, this is truly a big deal as the new Post can grow significantly and become a real asset to our community, schools, youth programs, traditions and fellow veterans in our area.