I am a veteran who served on active duty from 23 March, 1976 to 22 March, 1980.  This does not place me in one of the wartime periods that would qualify me for membership in The American Legion.

Question:

Dear Madam or Sir,

I am a veteran who served on active duty from 23 March, 1976 to 22 March, 1980.  This does not place me in one of the wartime periods that would qualify me for membership in The American Legion. I can see where “wartime” service would be relevant for membership in service organizations such as the VFW or the DAV, but why do my dates of service disqualify me for Legion membership?

Needless to say, this policy makes me and others feel as if our service to the country is not recognized and we are relegated to “non-veteran” status. This disappoints me for, as we all know, once you enter the U.S. military you are signing over your life to service anywhere and anytime you are needed.

As a side note: to say there was no military activity worthy of Legion membership during my active duty time is ridiculous. This was the time of the Iranian hostage crisis and the failed “Operation Eagle Claw” attempt to free the hostages. In addition, my entire squadron was deployed to South Korea as a result of a DMZ incident with North Korea. Peace time? I think not!

It is surprising that I qualify for veteran preference status on federal and state job applications but am not recognized by an organization that professes to be an advocate for veterans. I am in a time of my life and career where I would like to be of service to The American Legion but I refuse to be an auxiliary member with no veteran status.

I guess that “veteran status” is awarded to only “real” U.S. veterans. 

Thank you,

Rick R.

Post Falls, Idaho

Answer:

Dear Rick.

According to the Legion charter, dating back to 1919 and authorized by Congress, The American Legion is a veterans’ service organization whose membership comprises "wartime veterans".

However, The American Legion has no control over what is actually considered wartime service. That is determined solely by Congress.

With regard to your closing comment, this sentiment has been advanced by others, as well. This gives me the opportunity to expound a bit about “veteran status” as we view it, even though my presentation does not relate directly to your original question. At least you will know where The American Legion’s “heart” is even if Congress controls our membership policy.

Legion leadership recently adopted resolution calling for expansion of the definition of “veteran status” with regard to members of the National Guard and Reserve components: archive.legion.org/bitstream/handle/123456789/2482/2013S010.pdf?sequence=1

The Legion also supports a bill introduced on Capitol Hill by Rep. Tim Walz, a longtime military veteran himself. Walz's proposed legislation, H.R. 679, is called the "Honor Amercia's Guard-Reserve Retirees Act." It falls in line with our rsolution. The text of the bill can be read here: www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr679

My point is, to us a “veteran is a veteran is a veteran.”  The mandated “180 days of active duty service” qualifier is only with regard to the award of benefits. It does not define who is or who is not a veteran of military service. This point confuses some people, however.  For instance, I have heard veterans claim, “You're not a veteran in the view of the government even if you serve 30 years as a drilling reservist or Guardsman and retire.” Well, that is simply incorrect. Consider the Webster’s Dictionary definition of the word “veteran” as it relates to military service. Webster’s says a veteran is “a former member of the armed forces.”  As far as we are concerned, that’s it. In effect, the U.S. government, Congress aside, concurs.

To prove that point, let’s talk about the award of benefits. As you mention, Rick, your service, while not considered "wartime service" by Congress, still qualifies you for veteran preference and hiring status in the federal government. And, as far as military and veteran honors are concerned, the law allows military veterans in civilian clothes to salute the U.S. flag while it is being raised or lowered. That law does not apply only to certain former members of the armed forces, but by its lack of restrictive language, ALL former members of the armed forces. Again, “a veteran is a veteran is a veteran”.

While your remarks did not specifically call for this lengthy and a bit off-topic response, Rick, I thought it was important to let you and all “real” veterans know what we believe it means to have earned the distinguished title of Veteran. You have certainly earned it, Rick.  

Lou

71 Comments

  1. Be proud to be a veteran and walk tall. It's a distinction than can never be taken away from you and Veterans day is our day to be reminded that at least we were willing to serve our country. I am a Vietnam Veteran and I missed the cut-off date by 21 days, I was not eligible for medical benefits or educational benefits and very discouraged. However, in 1969 they reinstated the education benefits, and although older I enrolled at a University and earned my BA and MPA. I got accepted into their doctoral program but ran out of benefits. In the late 70's I was instrumental in getting legislation to give all veterans a tax exemption and changing the date of eligibility to correspond with the federal legislation. Only veterans born in that state and that served within their own establish dates of eligibility were eligible for tax exemption. It past successfully and helped many veterans within their dates of eligibility. Somehow my intent of having the state's date of eligibility correspond with the federal dates got left out in the legislative process. Whether it was deliberate or unintentional I will never know. It took another 10 years before we were able to pass legislation that enabled me to become eligible to get a tax exemption. It was also during this period that Congress expand the Vietnam conflict to the Vietnam Era and I was eligible to join the American Legion. That's 24 years before a became a Legionnaire. The point is that we cannot stop until we get all veterans to become eligible to join the American Legion. We need to change the wartime mentality and realize that as long as we need to maintain a defense, a military all veterans should become eligible. It should not matter in what capacity we served our country or what period we were willing to serve. That is true Americanism. The leadership in the American Legion has to be willing to make changes to eliminate discrimination against veterans. Hang in there and I hope one day you can join this fine organization...Don't feel to badly some friends don't think I am a veteran because I did not carry a rifle. So be it, my MOS was just as important, and I know I served and I am proud that I did and I glad I could.

  2. I served in in the Regular Air Force from 1969 to 1973 then in the Air National Guard from 1973 to 2005.I am a Life Member of the American Legion and the VFW.

    I have heard all of the excuses about how the American Legion is the only true War Era Veteran's Organization in the World and how it would lose it's CLOUT with Congress if the war Era dates were opened up.
    Expanding these dates gets brought up almost every year at National American Legion Convention and is never approved.
    The VFW has opened the dates up to all Korean War Veterans. I see nothing wrong with that. I also see nothing wrong with Congress recognizing the entire COLD WAR as an ERA that makes any Veteran eligible for American Legion Membership Eligibility.

    Here's what I do have a problem with -
    I am the Membership Chair at my Legion Post. I am the one that has to tell my fellow Veterans that their Honorable Service does not meet War Era Criteria and that they are not welcome in my Post.
    HOWEVER The American Legion recognizes an organization that that have NEVER served a single day of Military Service. Every day these people enter our Posts as bonifide members. They use our Lounge and our facilities and have all of the Privileges that our Legionnaires have. Yes I am talking about the Sons of the American Legion. Most of these men have never seen a day of Military Service. They are there in our Posts because of their fathers or grandfathers. They pay the same price for their drinks that Legionnaires do and if you look at the American Legion discount Benefits package for the Legionnaires and the Sons they are Identical. In most Legion Posts the SONS DUES are considerably less than Legionnaire dues. Some Sons dues are 1/2 of what the Legionnaires pay. I don't understand that one? Theirs should be at least equal to or MORE than ours. for the Most part the SONS are not boys under 21 years of age. They are MEN that are looking for a Place the HANG OUT. There are not many Juniors in that organization.

    I think that the American Legion and Congress should address the resolutions that would recognize at least the Cold War Vets so that we can welcome them to our Posts.
    Come on!!!!!!!!!!!!
    The National Guard needs just one day of eligibility but a Veteran that served 5 years missed the dates!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Are you Kidding?
    Let's get the Cold War Guys on Board.

  3. You hit the nail right on the head.That`s why I never joined the VFW or American Legion they pick who they want. These Cold War Vets were ready to put themselves in harms way for America and this is what they get for it NOTHING.Sham on these organizations for not nonrecognition of them .

  4. As a cold war vet that voluntered to serve. Nobody drafted or atemted to draft me i joined totaly of my own will . I served for 4 plus 2. dates are wrong so no membership for me . You will have to trust me I am very proud of my time in the US AIR FORCE 7-7-77 till 7-6-81 and any body that doesn't agree you know where you can kiss!

  5. Thank you sir for that wonderful post! I served in the USN from 85 - 89 and received an Honorable Discharge. I went back to my home state and applied and was accepted to my local police department. At that time, our police union meetings were held at our local Legion hall. My uncle was a member and I recall speaking with him after one of the meetings. He, of course, knew I was a veteran. I was so happy seeing and meeting other veterans so I asked how I could join. He coldly told me that I didn't qualify. I was heart broken to hear this, especially from my flesh and blood. I have co-workers whom had never served this country, that are members of this particular POST. Travesty! I signed the "blank check" to my country and because I fall into a gray area of requirements, I can't be a member. But yet, a child of a member of service can. I have read that these "requirements" are authorized by Congress. I submit to you that the American Legion will slowly die off as our proud service members do through attrition. Sadly, this seems inevitable unless the powers in the Legion step up and tell Congress what they need to know. The American Legion is a powerful voice in American politics and, don't be fooled, can change legislation if it wanted to. If the American Legion won't step up to the plate, then they are just blood-letting this honorable organization.

  6. VFW, allows social members and family members to join that have never served a day in there life! When I asked to join I was told no!!! I am a cold war veteran that deployed overseas for 7 months. Although our battle group received Hostile pay, our ship did not because females were aboard. We set 3 months off the coast of Oman/Yemen to service the fleet during operations to protect civilian merchant ships from pirates. But my service to the United States does not matter in two ways. Female/Cold War veteran.

  7. Rick R. - this does not prevent you from contacting your House and Senate representatives and ask them to sponsor a Bill to change the Charter of The American Legion. I'm sure you would get a great many supporters.

  8. Have you checked into the Korean Service Medal? The following was released by the DoD in February 2004.

    """"""The Defense Department announced today the creation of theKorean Defense Service Medal (KDSM). The KDSM is a service medal to give special recognition for the sacrifices and contributions made by members of the U.S. armed forces who have served or are serving in the Republic of Korea.
    Public Law 107-314 legislated the creation of a new medal to recognize military service in the Republic of Korea and the surrounding waters.
    Members of the armed forces authorized the KDSM must have served in support of the defense of the Republic of Korea. The area of eligibility encompasses all land area of the Republic of Korea, and the contiguous water out to 12 nautical miles, and all air spaces above the land and water areas.

    The KDSM period of eligibility is July 28, 1954, to a future date to be determined by the secretary of defense.

    Servicemembers must have been assigned, attached, or mobilized to units operating in the area of eligibility and have been physically deployed in the area of eligibility for 30 consecutive or 60 non-consecutive days or meet one of the following criteria:
    Be engaged in actual combat during an armed engagement, regardless of the time in the area of eligibility.
    Is wounded or injured in the line of duty and requires medical evacuation from the area of eligibility.
    While participating as a regularly assigned air crewmember flying sorties into, out of, within, or over the area of eligibility in support of military operations. Each day that one or more sorties are flown in accordance with these criteria shall count as one day toward the 30 or 60-day requirement.
    Personnel who serve in operations and exercises conducted in the area of eligibility are considered eligible for the award as long as the basic time criteria is met. Due to the extensive time period for KDSM eligibility, the nonconsecutive service period for eligibility remains cumulative throughout the entire period.
    The KDSM may be awarded posthumously, and only one award of the KDSM is authorized for any individual.

    Each military department will prescribe appropriate regulations for administrative processing, awarding and wearing of the KDSM and ribbon for their servicemembers, to include application procedures for veterans, retirees, and next-of-kin.

    More than 40,000 members of the U.S. armed forces have served in the Republic of Korea or the waters adjacent thereto each year since the signing of the cease-fire agreement in July 1953, which established the Demilitarized Zone. For more than 50 years, U.S. Armed Forces efforts to deter and defend the Korean Peninsula have helped maintain democracy and preserve the indomitable spirit of freedom."""""""

    If you have received a campaign medal for overseas service; have served 30 consecutive or 60 non-consecutive days in Korea; or have ever received hostile fire or imminent danger pay, then you're eligible to join the ranks of the VFW.
    Maybe congress should review the criteria that makes someone eligible for the VFW but not the American Legion!! Sorry this is so long

  9. If you were a member of the armed forces at any time from the Japanese surrender in 1945 'til the breakup of the USSR, you were part of the cold war. You were at risk of being involved in active combat everyday you served. Why should you be denied membership?

  10. ELIGIBILITY DATES - A member or a former member the United States Armed Forces must have one day of Federal Active Duty within these dates to be allowed to join the American Legion. "Tweeners" are not eligible. Honorable conditions do apply.

    WORLD WAR I APRIL 6, 1917 to
    NOVEMBER 11, 1918

    WORLD WAR II DECEMBER 7, 1941 to
    DECEMBER 31, 1946

    U.S. MERCHANT DECEMBER 7, 1941 to
    MARINES in WWII* AUGUST 15, 1945

    KOREAN WAR JUNE 25, 1950 to
    JANUARY 31, 1955

    VIETNAM WAR FEBRUARY 28, 1961 to
    MAY 7, 1975

    LEBANON & AUGUST 24, 1982 to
    GRENADA WAR JULY 31, 1984

    PANAMA WAR DECEMBER 20, 1989 to
    JANUARY 31, 1990

    PERSIAN GULF/ AUGUST 2, 1990 –
    WAR ON TERRORISM Cessation of hostilities as determined by US Government

    *Merchant Marines eligible only if attached for active duty service with the Coast Guard, Army or Navy during dates indicated.

  11. Here is what I would do considering that these post are all dying off. Make ALL COLD WAR VETERANS eligible for American Legion and the VFW. Regardless of deployed status or not. It's crazy. They can have their own "COMBAT CLUB" within their post. For now, support all organizations and keep them alive. It's time to "GROW UP" American Legion and VFW.

  12. Not all squadrons of the s.a.l.s are like those described above. They are supportive of all legion programs. The group at my post takes motorized wheel chairs that are donated and refurbishes them. They are then loaned out to any needy vet at no cost. They have about 50 of them out there with another 20 or so in reserve or being worked on to be lent. They raise there own funds for this project and the post gets the credit. They also arrange for approximately 2,000,000 lbs. of food donations each year. I am proud to also be life member of them . Not all are there to take advantage of the legion.

  13. As it is now the dates for vietnam service is 1964 to 1975. If you were in country the start date is 1961. You show the 1961 date for eligibility in the AL. Please explain. Also is there any legislation to make te 1961 date all inclusive?

  14. They are so high speed low drag they don't even allow the first Vietnam Vets in who served as advisors from 1958 to 1961.

  15. I was reading on the above article about The American Legion recently enacting a resolution for granting Reservist veteran status. I am in this boat. I am also a American Legion qualified, 1982-83 active duty dates during Beirut dates of eligibility.
    I can't express how many times I have looked at my honorable discharge only to feel that I never served. Or is it that the Veterans Administration had made me feel this way for years? I could never understand why reservist not called to active duty were never classified as veterans. Especially for benefits purposes. I always thought when I joined, that you sign a contract, you fulfill the contract and when you get your honorable discharge, you are an automatic veteran. As a reservist with an honorable discharge, I am not entitled for...

    A VA Home Loan
    Burial in a VA cemetery
    No job placement nor assistance
    No educational benefits
    No VA healthcare benefits

    It is as though I have never served in the military. What is the motivation aside having signed a contract to continue going to "Drill" weekends, when my honorable discharge is just as worthless as a "LESSER" kind of discharge? All based on active duty requirements. I feel robbed. Grant it, I signed the contract, but I was young and dumb, probably didn't know what I was getting into. Must I/We pay for the rest of our lives with zero veteran status.
    I doubt this resolution will ever be taken at face value. I will die before any of this ever comes to light. I am sure someone coming from Iraq/Afghanistan could care less about my status, however, I was in the Persian Gulf as a civilian working on a military contract when they were wearing diapers. Again, been out since 1985, still disgruntled after 30 years of having "Whale shit" status. I've even looked at trying to gain status for military contract performed during Persian Gulf, but would need a lot more proof and testimony, virtually impossible to do and no support. (A lot of WWII civilians got granted VA status including Merchant Marines that weren't even in the military.)
    I really do thank the American Legion for trying to provide veteran status for reservist. I can't believe I read this. I often wonder how many guys in my boat feel this way or am I the only one. It's embarrassing to bring up because, I am ashamed to even mention I was a reservist because of its non-veteran status when I know deep in my heart I really am a veteran.

  16. I have a person tell me he signed up for national guard 1962 spent 30 days in boot camp was honorably discharged according to his dd214
    he is now a legion member how is that possible

  17. Rick - I served in the USAF 76 to 80 and feel exactly the same as you. My time in the service changed my life and gave me the opportunity to pursue and obtain a college education. I am extremely proud of my time served and only wish congress felt the same.

  18. Although I am a Legion member, it is a shame that any man or woman who raised their hand and swore to defend their country is not entitled to be a member of the Legion. Just because there was not a hostile action going on at the time is not a defense to deny joining.

  19. Those are eligibility date's, period! and can't never be change. It is what it its.

  20. Those are eligibility date's, period! and can't never be change. It is what it its.

  21. I would like to know if there is a way to get a actual discharge paper from the Marines, for service from 1969-1971,and not just a dd214?....thank's Ed Lewis

  22. I served USMC (78-82, 82-84) 4 years active with a 2 year reserve obligation inactive, I was part of battle staff involved with planning of operation Eagle claw, you might have seen the movie, yet i am not worthy of membership to join a veteran organization, during this time period we were on alert a few times for or county, I just can't understand why you go by DD214 and not by date on discharge? I guess nobody should sign up during peace time for you will be shund. if there is any justice please change this injustice.

  23. After my 6 years of voluntary service, 4 years active and 2 active reserve, I encountered this wonderful "congressional" rule. I am a life member of Amvets but will continue to talk to the legion about getting that changed. How many draftee members do you have? You know the guys who never volunteered......How many members that never served overseas? You get my point?

  24. Dishonered by c: You want vet status because you were part of the "planning" for Operation Eagle Claw?!?! Really?? Get the hell out of here! The next thing you're going to say is that you watched a documentary on it and deserve a medal for it. Quit your crying. OBTW, I just retired from the Army after 24 years with a one year deployment to Iraq and a one year deployment to Afghanistan.

  25. Your comment is ignorant, I suppose next you are going to say that all Marines who served in support roles and not as front line grunts should be negated too. I saw that b.s. mindset when I served in the Corps and chauvinist attitude toward our servicewomen also.

  26. Served ~ Decorated & Honored Iranian Hostage Crisis Disabled Veteran. U.S. NAVY EXPEDITIONARY MEDAL. Holly Brown Temple Terrace Florida.

  27. Rick, 30 consecutive or 6 non-consecutive days in Korea, qualifies you for the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

    The VFW is the only VSO that recognizes those veterans who served in Korea, especially for those that served time on the DMZ!

  28. I to served in "peace time" I too was put on alert many times, during the Iran hostage situation! But because none of the thousands of men and women that served during so called "peace time" died in action we are shunned from ever participating in the American Legion Organization! But I know of three men that belong to a local American Legion that NEVER SERVED, are convicted FELONS and are able to hold an office within the American Legion! Yes we are NEGLECTED and it does bother me A LOT! Especially when the American Legion has the NERVE to ask us to SUPPORT them in their benefit drives! Such as motorcycle poker run rides, Bingo, festivals, Antique car shows, Parades, and other endeavors! REALLY! Don't they remember WE ARE NOT VETERANS! In the eye's of the American Legion! So what they are saying is our time and efforts and money are good only when it benefits the American Legion! GUESS WHAT! If the American Legion wants my support and the support of the tens of thousands of other so called "NON QUALIFIED VETERANS" they better go to bat for us and get the rules changed! The American Legion has the power and clout as an organization to get the rules changed! They REFUSE to go to bat for us because all they want is our MONEY for the so called REAL MEMBERS! That's why myself and believe me PLENTY of other HONORABLY discharged VETERANS will NEVER SUPPORT ANY AMERICAN LEGION POST! If my time and money aren't good enough to qualify me as a member than it isn't good enough to support them in any manner! As an example I will tell you I went to a local American Legion Post with a QUALIFIED Veteran and was told I had to leave because I was not a member! REALLY I was told this by the FELON! He never served a day as an active service member in his life! But yet REAL VETERANS are thrown out! So I could care less if the American Legions all close up, they claim to be an organization to HELP Veterans when in reality they only help so called QUALIFIED VETERANS! Very sorry organization that can't help ALL VETERANS only the ones they pick and choose! It's not only the AMERICAN LEGION that shuns the so called "peace Time" Veteran the VETERANS ADMINISTRATION does too! I have been told more than once my time as a Marine doesn't qualify me for anything but a 1 time VA loan! When I was sworn in and VETERAN BENFITS explained to me they never told us that! We received NO EDUCATION ASSISTANCE, no MEDICAL BENIFITS, nothing not even inclusion in the AMERICAN LEGION! What is so AMERICAN about that?

  29. Joe H. get me the names and post name and location and I will bring it to the attention of the American Legion to get them removed. Otherwise you should keep these types of comments to yourself not publish on the web.

  30. I have been asked by my friends who are in the American Legion and VFW to join and I remind them that this is a congressional act that set the dates of war times. I will never dis-respect the official American Legion or VFW members by filling out a fraudulent application. I understand that these great organizations need more members, but until the laws are changed to include Cold War or others that do not meet the rules, I will remain as is and always salute American Legion and VFW persons. God Bless America.

  31. ​I do not disrespect this GREAT country, I Honor all that have served, continue to serve and that will ever serve for the rights and freedoms that the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA provides for us. But my point is, we that served as a totally volunteer service member get ZERO recognition! All because some misinformed lame career politician that likely never stepped foot in a military boot camp can come up with some cockamamie rule that disallows HONORABLY DISCHARGED AMERICAN VETERANS from ever joining or receiving any recognition that he or she ever served this GREAT COUNTRY! But while they disallow us VETERANS from joining any organization VETERAN related, people that say their Father or Grand Father served can join and hold offices is just a plain travesty! I am VERY PROUD of my service time and have zero regrets for VOLENTEERING! I just wish our LAME CONGRESS and UNINFORMED politicians could see the errors of their ways! There are probably tens of thousands of VETERANS that in the eyes of the VETERANS ADMINESTRATION and other organizations are just not TRUE VETERANS being shunned and shut out! DAV I get I am not disabled, VFW I get I was never in a war over seas, Vietnam Veterans Association I get I was never in Vietnam, but the AMERICAN LEGION? Just what authority can they have to tell me I am not a VETERAN!?

    So I can not and will not support any organization that can not and will not support me!

  32. Hi, Joe! I appreciate your point-of-view! I believe that it has significant merit. Thx for sharing. Best Regards! DJS.

  33. There is presently a U.S. House bill HR-2067 introduced and sitting in House Armed Services Committee with 21 Congressional co-sponsors that if enacted would recognize all Cold War veterans....also an organization that supports Cold War veterans and Cold War veteran's issues: American Cold War Veterans.....they're on the web.

  34. We need to start shooting out SNAIL MAIL and Emails regarding getting Legislation updated with eligibility requirements. IF YOU SERVED HONORABLY THEN YOU ARE A VETERAN OF SERVICE.

  35. There is presently a U.S. House bill HR-2067 introduced and sitting in House Armed Services Committee with 21 Congressional co-sponsors that if enacted would recognize all Cold War veterans....also an organization that supports Cold War veterans and Cold
    War veteran's issues: American Cold War Veterans.....they're on the web.

  36. Does the American Legion support Congressional charter change of eligibility dates to allow all Cold War veterans membership? The American Legion has a standing resolution supporting creation and award of a Cold War Service Medal. Will Legion petition congress to expand Charter eligibility dates and ask for passage of Cold War Medal bill HR-2067?

  37. Shame on the country for not recognizing the service of those who served during the Cold War. I served on the West/East German Border From (1986-1989) and the VFW and American Legion could care less. this is a disgrace.

  38. Another reason not to join the Legion or VFW, why support an organization does not recognize veterans. My friend's brother was killed in North Korea during peace time. I guess his death means nothing...I guess our service in dangerous situations meant nothing...

  39. Thy won't answer....proverbial paper tiger. Here they (Legion) has standing resolution supporting Cold War Service Medal....here it is:
    (But won't petition Congress to expand dates to veterans that served their country during possibly the most important struggle in the 20th century.....
    Phoenix, Arizona
    August 26, 27, 28, 2008

    Resolution No. 88: Cold War Victory Medal

    Origin: Florida Submitted by: Convention Committee on National Security

    Consolidated with Resolution 16 (DC)

    WHEREAS, The United States Armed Forces engaged the forces of international communism continuously from the end of World War II until the disintegration of the former Soviet Union; and

    WHEREAS, The United States, during this extended period, relied for its manpower source on a national service Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps made up of citizens performing their obligated duty to serve and defend the United States; and

    WHEREAS, The defeat of the former Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies constituted the greatest success of American Armed Forces since the end of World War II; and

    WHEREAS, Many American citizens served the nation in assigned duties without receiving tangible recognition for that service; now, therefore, be it

    RESOLVED, By The American Legion in National Convention assembled in Phoenix, Arizona, August 26, 27, 28, 2008, That The American Legion urge Congress to authorize and provide funding for the award of a COLD WAR VICTORY MEDAL to all Armed Forces members who served on extended active duty during the period of September 2, 1945 through December 26, 1991, thereby commemorating service in the Cold War to eliminate the threat of a determined enemy to overpower the freely elected democracies of the world.

  40. Veterans who served during the Cold War Era deserve every right to be a member of the American Legion. The dates listed above are recognized by the VFW. Total b/s when it comes to veterans who put there tail online for there country, but here is the catcher that time period Veterans were used as guinea pigs for the Atomic Tests that were conducted in Nevada and the Pacific and half of them died from Cancer causing ailments associated with those tests and the legion needs to stand up for those living Veterans that maybe alive. The US Congress needs to backup these veterans as well.

  41. I to find it appalling that as an individual who served my country from 1977 – 1982 I am not a recognized veteran, but was told I could join as “sons” under my father who was a Korean vet. What a joke, I am a vet, served my country and should not have to be recognized from my father’s service. Don’t ask me for my money, you won’t get any of it.

  42. As many of my fellow brethren who have expressed discontent with their "non-veteran" status, I too share the same sentiment. I served honorably in the USMC from 84-88 active duty with a two year mandatory inactive reserve tour but have been recently been informed that I am ineligible to join the AL. I have been a SAL member for the last 7 years and everything has been fine up until this year when I started receiving emails from our SAL Commander stating that those not volunteering their time as security personnel for functions were at risk on not being allowed to rejoin the SAL post. My situation is sort of unique in that I have been a law enforcement officer for 25years and I am still on the job. The last thing I want to do on my day off is "police" the parking lot and address upstanding citizens who may or may not be parked in the correct space or who may or may not have had a little too much festivities. I served my country and have continued to serve my community but this is not enough for my post. In my hearts of hearts I want to tell those powers to be to eat a fat you know what but I really enjoy the serenity of my post. This day and age most people hate cops so going to a local watering hole other than the AL isn't always the safest decision. I've tried explaining my situation to the post but like most of you I have been told this does not matter. I get it, its a good ole boys club but ALL Veterans should be allowed membership. I guess I'll renew my SAL membership until I get refused membership for not volunteering my police services... Semper Fi

  43. I Became an at large member a few years ago and was surprised that I quallified , The dates and full time service all fell in place, However I was surprised that so many people i knew of couldn.t meet the criteria,Since then recently I joined a small local post.And we would like to see you folks as members,As a former reservist I am proud and with you all !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  44. I was at Utapao Thailand as a called up Air Force Reservist in 1974 for about 6 months (I had been in for 4 years at that time). Officially Hostilities had ended April 1973. We many missions to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam - air cargo drops and landings with non-American troops and CIA types... I processed many human remains while there. Anyone "serving" after March 1973 is denied the Viet Nam Service Medal and VFW status EXCEPECT if you served for 1 day later in 1975 - when Viet Nam finally fell. I just don't get it

  45. I hope the Legion will support expansion of the dates of eligibility for award of the National Defense Service Medal (NDSM) for all Cold War veterans. They served when the nation called for volunteers in a time of national threat. National Defense.

  46. Many of the cold war vets were involved in a war of espionage that prevented a nuclear war that would have ended all wars, perhaps annihilated our the world and lived through their own hell. Maybe if The American Legion and other Veterans Organizations were to stand up and push congress and the President more something would get done. Many in my family have served in "Wartime"; WWII, Korean, Viet Nam, Gulf and the War on Terror. I do not wish to take anything away from what they have done for our country; so I ask every Veteran in America why would you be silent while a Cold War Veteran does not receive the same respect as you. God Bless you and thank you for your service.

    Below is an article by the WSJ I found:

    A Cold Shoulder for Cold-War Vets

    For survivors of the anticommunist effort, little remembrance on Veterans Day
    By
    Barry Newman

    Nov. 9, 2012 7:39 p.m. ET

    This weekend, Americans will honor soldiers who fought the country's wars, from the Somme to Kandahar. In Manassas, Va., 30 miles from the nation's capital, a parade on Saturday will honor veterans of another big war: the one that never happened.

    The Cold War, from 1945 to the Soviet Union's breakup in 1991, was all about avoiding total nuclear war. It turned hot in Korea and Vietnam and sparked conflicts from Lebanon to Grenada. But soldiers on duty between flare-ups didn't do battle. When the war that wasn't came to an end, they got no monuments, no victory medals.

    Nor can they join the American Legion—which makes the parade of Cold War vets in Manassas a minor hot spot of its own.

    The idea came out of Legion Post 10, a brick building with a long bar on Cockrell Road. The parade committee was in a room behind the bar one evening, talking protocol and Porta-Johns. Most were career retirees, yet 50 years after the Cuban missile crisis, the Legion's exclusion of Cold War short-timers was on their minds.

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    "You have to serve in a declared war," said Mark Meier, the post commander, a 44-year-old retired Marine. "That's our charter."

    Bill Carruthers, 81, who flew in Vietnam as an Air Force colonel, opened his wallet and pulled out his Legion card. The eligibility periods were on the flip side: World War II, then a gap from 1946 to 1950. Korea, and a gap from 1955 to 1961. Vietnam, and another gap, from 1975 to 1982. Lebanon-Grenada, and a gap from 1984 to 1989. Finally, a short war in Panama, a gap and 22 straight years of membership from the 1990 Gulf War through the Global War on Terrorism, which isn't over yet.

    Missing in action: 22 years of the Cold War.

    Col. Carruthers said, "I have a son who served four years on a destroyer, chasing Russian subs—after Vietnam but before Grenada. He cannot be a Legionnaire, and that really ticks me off."

    The committee members have marched plenty. They've pinned on campaign medals and expeditionary medals. If they served during the Korea or Vietnam "eras," they also got a National Defense Service Medal. So did anyone on duty during the Gulf War, or since Sept. 11, 2001—whether patrolling Anbar Province or a stateside train station.

    There is no National Defense Service Medal for veterans of the Cold War. What were America's GIs up to? They went on alert when Egypt claimed the Suez Canal in 1956. They manned missile silos in North Dakota and piloted B-52s aimed at Soviet targets. They crewed nuclear-armed submarines and drove tanks in the Fulda Gap between West and East Germany. Some of what they did is still secret.

    Don Levesque, a retired minister in Maine, was on leave in 1958 when 17 men in his Air Force unit were shot down and killed by a MiG while on a surveillance flight along the Armenian border.

    "They call it peacetime," says Mr. Levesque, 74. "It wasn't. The Legion won't accept us. That's an affront. We never got a medal, and that's an affront, too."

    Before he got discouraged and quit, Mr. Levesque belonged to American Cold War Veterans, a group trying to convince the Defense Department to award a medal to GIs like him. Bills for the creation of one have passed the House and Senate several times, only to wilt in committee. The Pentagon is opposed.

    "The Cold War was not actually a war," wrote Elizabeth King, an assistant secretary of defense, in a 2011 letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee. A medal would overlap hot-war medals, she wrote. It would cost $440 million, and 35 million vets could claim it.

    How many of them served only in those 22 gap years? "Maybe five million," says Frank Tims, 76, a retired defense analyst who is chairman of the veterans group. The Congressional Budget Office puts the likely number at 3.4 million and a medal's cost at $33 million.

    "If it's about the money, I'll pay for my own medal," Frank Almquist says. He is 50 and drove Army tanks in the Fulda Gap early in the 1980s. "Just authorize it. I'll buy my own."

    In 2006, Mr. Almquist, who lives in Illinois, complained to his then-senator, Barack Obama. Mr. Obama emailed back, calling a Cold War medal "appropriate," and hoping "that this impasse can be broken soon." It wasn't. Now the vets intend to ask him to create the medal by executive order.

    They have campaigned, too, to have May 1 (communism's May Day) declared Cold War Victory Day. Maine and Kansas have done it. Independently, Matamoras, Pa., has put up a Cold War monument. San Diego had a Cold War parade in 2010. Omaha had one last July.

    Now comes Manassas. Banners on street lamps here commemorate Civil War battles in the fields beyond its strip malls. At a burger joint with "Thank You Veterans" ketchup on the tables, a waitress was asked what the Cold War was. "Just...like...a war?" she said.

    "People don't realize there was a Cold War," Russ Keating was saying at Legion Post 10. He is an Air Force vet, and president of the parade committee. "They grew up with Vietnam and the Gulf."

    It was the Cold War's invisibility that led the post to sponsor the parade (a separate nonprofit is running it). At Legion headquarters in Indianapolis, a spokesman says the matter of membership "has been brought to our attention." But the leadership has no plan to change the rules. Even if it did, Congress would have to amend the charter to let any veterans come in from the cold.

    Parade planning has taught the Manassas Legionnaires one other lesson about Cold War vets: They're hard to find. No database lists them. A sign-up sheet at the county fair went unsigned.

    "We're having a hard time," said Mr. Meier, the post commander. "They don't want to participate in our parade."

    Kevin Bryne, in charge of participation, got up and told him: "When you have veterans that can't be members of your organization, they don't rush out to help you."

    Mr. Bryne, 53, is a security contractor. He never joined the military; his father did. So he joined the Sons of the Legion. Kurdt Carruthers, the colonel's Navy-veteran son, will never do that.

    "I told my father," he says on the phone from his home near Fredericksburg, "if I can't join the Legion, the hell with it."

    He is 56 and spent four years, 1977-81, hunting submarines aboard the USS Peterson. "Interacting with the Soviets wasn't fun and games," he says. "We weren't waving at them and sharing movies." He missed getting a National Defense Service Medal by months.

    Kurdt Carruthers was expecting to drive to Manassas today for its Veterans Day Parade. But he won't take part. He'll be standing in the crowd, watching his dad march by.

    Write to Barry Newman

  47. Why do you not recognize Cold War veterans for membership? I served in the USAF from Dec 1983-Feb 1990 entering a Titan II Missile silo everyday from 5AM to 6PM maintaining an instrument that prevented nuclear escalation and the start of WW3. How is it that you have members that are sons and daughters of veterans that have never served a single day protecting this great nation and deny actual VETERANS? Please do not say that congress determines your membership guidelines. You, as an organization, should be pushing for this change regarding Cold War veterans. It took too long for Korean War vets to be admitted due to the fact it was originally a "conflict". Everyone calls it the COLD WAR, but I guess I did not serve in a wartime period....I just served and protected and PREVENTED WAR! Your membership declinations to Cold War veterans is shameful and makes us feel less than what we are. I do not need your organization to validate my service or patriotism, but it would be nice to be recognized as such.

  48. With dwindling numbers of veterans across the country, these organizations should be accepting all Honorably Discharged veterans.
    Former Air Force Veteran Oct. 1975-81..

  49. Missed qualifying by several months and definitely feel cheated and unappreciated.

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