The LEGION Act signed into law

SIDNEY — In a significant legislative victory for The American Legion, President Donald 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. service members 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. The American Legion National Commander Brett Reistaid expressed gratitude to the bipartisan members of Congress for passing the legislation.

“Recognizing the service of these wartime veterans is the right thing and it is long overdue. 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,’” said Reistand.

Now that the legislation has been signed, The American Legion’s eligibility criteria immediately changes from seven war eras, that was established by the federal government, 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 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. 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.

Shelby County currently has four chartered American Legion Posts that continue to serve our veterans, their families and communities: Heiland Post 444, Anna; Post 355, Fort Loramie; Scherer Post 493, Jackson Center; and Post 217, Sidney. Membership into the American Legion is not just supporting a local Canteen facility. The membership dues help more than 700,000 veterans and their families who need accredited assistance get the benefits they have earned, provide comfort items for hospitalized military personnel, provide Honor guard services and memorial tributes for fallen comrades, provide youth mentorship through programs including Buckeye Boys State, Oratorical and Legion Baseball, provide volunteer hours and services at VA medical facilities, provide one of the strongest voices for veterans in Washington D.C. and provide grants for military families in need.

“If you are a veteran and not a member of the American Legion, you are encouraged to join and help continue the legacy and traditions of veterans from the First World War, because together, we make a difference,” said Rick Lunsford, first vice commander, Sidney American Legion Post 217.