LEGION Act passes House, on to President for signature

 
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LEGION Act passes House, on to President for signature

Good news out of Washington yesterday...

The U.S. House passed the bipartisan LEGION Act on Tuesday, extending the recognized wartime era back to Dec. 7, 1941.

The LEGION Act — Let Everyone Get Involved in Opportunities for National Service 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 is expected to sign Senate bill S.504 into law later this week. When it becomes law, 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,” American Legion National Commander Brett Reistad said. “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. servicemembers were killed or wounded in hostile operations during periods that were not previously recognized as times of war by the federal government.

Reistad credited members of Congress and American Legion Family members with the successful legislation. Their efforts fulfill Resolution No. 1, passed unanimously by the Legion’s National Executive Committee last October in Indianapolis.

On Feb. 14, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., introduced the LEGION Act, along with Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C. Reps. Lou Correa, D-Calif., and Ben Cline, R-Va., introduced a similar measure in the House.

“The American Legion appreciates the support our representatives have shown the veterans who were previously caught in the gaps,” Reistad said. “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.”

Reistad evoked the memories of The American Legion’s founders who launched the organization 100 years ago this year.

“As we celebrate our centennial anniversary, we hold to the same truths that our founders appropriately crafted a century ago,” Reistad said. “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.”

We've been working hard on this one for a while, and it's by far the most emailed question.  And now, rightfully, Cold War Veterans and others that served during similiar unrecognized periods can join.  

The Findings from the Bill are culled almost directly from our Resolution, "Unrecognized Armed Hostilities Recognition" passed at the Fall NEC meeting last year, which can be found HERE.   Nonetheless, I will use the findings from the bill because it's formatted slightly easier to read:

(a) Findings.—Congress makes the following findings:

(1) Since the end of World War II, the Federal Government has designated specific periods of war, the dates of which are important for qualification for certain benefits or membership in veterans organizations established by Congress.

(2) 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.

(3) Those 12 unrecognized war eras occurred at the direction of the then President of the United States, with full knowledge and consent of the then Congress.

(4) The first of those 12 unrecognized war eras involving active United States military personnel was 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.

(5) During the Greek Civil War, one member of the Armed Forces of the United States sacrificed his life in service to the United States, and five others suffered non-combat deaths.

(6) The second of those unrecognized war eras involving active United States military personnel was the Chinese Civil War, which occurred during the aftermath of World War II.

(7) During the Chinese Civil War, the United States military equipped, trained, transported, and supplied the Kuomintang-led Government of the Republic of China with approximately $4,430,000,000 in its resistance to the Communist Party of China.

(8) During the Chinese Civil War, 14 members of the Armed Forces of the United States sacrificed their lives in service to the United States, 150 non-combatants of the United States lost their lives in the war, and 51 were wounded, resulting in 215 United States military casualties.

(9) The third unrecognized war era involving active United States military personnel is known as the Cold War.

(10) The Cold War was a period spanning from approximately 1947 until 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed.

(11) Although no direct large-scale military fighting occurred between the militaries of the United States and the Soviet Union, active United States military personnel served in multiple regional conflicts during the Cold War, resulting in the deaths of not fewer than 32 members of the Armed Forces who sacrificed their lives in service to the United States and not fewer than 12 additional casualties.

(12) The fourth unrecognized war era involving active United States military personnel is known as the China Cold War.

(13) The China Cold War started when the Kuomintang-led Government of the Republic of China retreated to the island of Taiwan and lasted until 1972, after President Richard Nixon conducted a landmark state visit to China.

(14) During the military operations of the China Cold War, not fewer than 16 members of the Armed Forces of the United States sacrificed their lives in service to the United States.

(15) The fifth unrecognized war era involving active United States military personnel was 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.

(16) The sixth unrecognized war era involving active United States military personnel was the Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961.

(17) The Bay of Pigs invasion was a failed military invasion of Cuba undertaken by a United States military group sponsored by the Central Intelligence Agency that resulted in not fewer than one death of a member of the Armed Forces who sacrificed his life in service to the United States and 19 non-combat deaths.

(18) The seventh unrecognized war era involving active United States military personnel was the Cuban Missile Crisis, which took place between October 16 and October 28, 1962.

(19) The Cuban Missile Crisis directly related to homeland protection against the deployment of a Soviet ballistic missile in Cuba.

(20) During the Cuban Missile Crisis, one member of the Armed Forces sacrificed his life in service to the United States and 19 others died as non-combatants.

(21) The eighth unrecognized war era involving active United States military personnel was the Dominican Civil War in 1965.

(22) Operations during the Dominican Civil War resulted in the deaths of 27 members of the Armed Forces who sacrificed their lives in service to the United States, 20 non-combat-related deaths, and 283 wounded.

(23) The ninth unrecognized war era involving active United States military personnel was the Iran Hostage Crisis, which lasted from November 4, 1979, through January 20, 1981.

(24) The Iran Hostage Crisis involved military intervention by the United States which resulted in the deaths of 8 members of the Armed Forces who sacrificed their lives in service to United States.

(25) The tenth unrecognized war era involving active United States military personnel was the Salvadoran Civil War.

(26) The Salvadoran Civil War lasted more than 12 years, through the terms of two Presidential administrations of the United States, and resulted in the deaths of 22 members of the Armed Forces who sacrificed their lives in service to the United States, 15 non-combat deaths, and 35 other casualties.

(27) 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.

(28) The military operations of the Libyan Conflict included numerous air strikes by United States military forces and resulted in the deaths of two members of the Armed Forces who sacrificed their lives in service to the United States.

(29) 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.

(30) The Persian Gulf Conflicts involved United States military missions to protect Kuwaiti-owned oil tankers which represented the largest United States naval convoy operation since World War II.

(31) The Persian Gulf Conflicts resulted in numerous military operations and the deaths of not fewer than 39 members of the Armed Forces who sacrificed their lives in service to the United States and 31 wounded.

(32) Since the armistice that ended the hostilities of the Korean War on January 31, 1955, nearly 100 active United States military personnel have sacrificed their lives in service to the United States in South Korea, and more than 132 people of the United States have been wounded in-country.

(33) Since January 1, 1947, through all of the unrecognized war eras involving active United States military personnel, not fewer than 778 combat and non-combat members of the Armed Forces have sacrificed their lives in service to the United States and not fewer than 797 have been wounded.

(34) Since January 1, 1947, the unrecognized war eras involving active United States military personnel who were wounded and killed serving their country were administered under orders from the commander in chief and with the consent of Congress, proving that the United States has been conducting deadly wartime service to protect the country consistently since December 7, 1941.

(35) 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.

(36) The American Legion provides invaluable services to its members and supports the community of veterans who sacrificed in service of the United States.

(37) Membership in The American Legion allows veterans to engage in public service activities, such as supporting Boys and Girls State and Nation, youth mentorship programs, and benefit assistance, career fairs, and employment assistance for veterans.

(38) The American Legion has gone on record as supporting the 12 unrecognized war eras involving active United States military personnel since the beginning of World War II.

(39) The American Legion has aided, assisted, and comforted the families of the men and women who were called to serve or volunteered to serve during all of the unrecognized war eras and continues to provide support to veterans of those eras.

(40) The American Legion has commended the heroic actions of all military personnel who risked their lives in defense of freedom during each of the unrecognized war eras involving active United States military personnel.

(b) Sense Of Congress.—It is the sense of Congress that, in accordance with the history, tradition, and purposes of The American Legion, 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.

So now we simply wait for the President to sign it.  Usually that process is fairly quick, so I would expect it by this weekend.

Posted in the burner | 8 comments
 
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Comments

It really feels good.

I support the effort. Hopefully the president will sign.

I served two years in north Africa in the Air Force burbentered insept1955 koreanwar over inJan 55
And 8years In reserves
Now are we entitled to the small real estate taxes

What still no health care for those who were deemed too rich by exec order in 2008. thanks Obama! I served honorably and should get same benifits!

Darwin Danks
Any person that was in the armed forces should be able to join
The American Legion.. if he or she served out their designated time
and has a Honorable Discharge And DD214 should be eligable.
Except for the VFW as it states VETERAN of FOREIGN WARS ....
You must have served on FOREIGN SOIL.... In a WAR ZONE...
on active duty...
Darwin A. Danks Iife member Veterans of Foreign Wars
POST 1400 Watertown, NY...

It’s a fine line that should be extended in the proposed legislation. Let’s get this proposed legislation
Enacted ASAP.
Thank you,
Anthony Sappio

I see you ask your readers for tips. Your organization does so much for veterans so here is a bonus for you. U.S.A. likely will soon award a long forgotten, living WWII hero the Medal of Honor. His deeds are seldom surpassed by previous Medal of Honor recipients. This tip is available to you because I nominated this great American patriot to a United States Senator. Over 75 years ago during one day this veteran on three separate one man rampages saved the remnants of his company from extinction. His unit endured 93 casualties that day and the company commander was killed in combat right beside this special individual. The final single-handed assault was a 300 yard charge directly toward the firing 75mm cannon and full complement of tank mounted machine guns of a Mark IV Panzer. Result-tank lost. Watch the newswires for this miraculous story as this vet did not even get a scratch during these events. Also, several foreign powers may also decorate this U.S. Army combat veteran. Good luck and keep up your good works. Paul J. Cassavechia, M.A.

Purple Hearts can only be given out if you are wounded in a War zone. Can Veterans apply to get medals?

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.