Some key veteran organizations recently had their eligibility requirements changed by Congress. Congressman Darin LaHood outlined some of those changes in Beardstown on Saturday during the meeting of his Veteran Affairs Committee.
“We passed a piece of legislation that will allow membership in the American Legion and the V.F.W. To expand. There were prohibitions under the law, because most of our veterans that came back from World War II and Korea and Vietnam joined V.F.W.’s and American Legions, but there were age prohibitions on that and also prohibitions on people serving in the military. You had to have been in conflict or wars. We have expanded that now, so now you have younger veterans that are coming in. I was proud to support that law, President Trump signed it, and now as we have heard today, that has allowed more flexibility and opprotunity to bring more people into the American Legion and the V.F.W.”
Before the change, members of the congressionally chartered organization had to have served on active duty during wartime in one of seven combat periods: World War I, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War, Lebanon and Granada, Panama, the first Persian Gulf War and the current War on Terror. U.S. Senate Bill 504 known as the Let Everyone Get Involved in Opportunities for National Service Act or LEGION Act became law on July 30th allowing for the expansion to any honorably discharged veteran who has served since Dec. 7, 1941 to sign up to the American Legion and VFW.
Membership in traditional veterans service organizations has declined over the past several decades as members age and pass away, and veterans of recent conflicts have sought out other groups or social organizations. The new law is an effort to replenish membership.