Why isn't The American Legion's membership eligibility expanded to all honorably discharged veterans?


Dear Commander James Koutz:

Our Post and Unit has been working on writing another resolution to expand AL membership to all honorably discharged veterans. Through this process, we understand that “Resolutions tell leadership what members want. Resolutions help leadership make decisions.” That quote is from the AL’s guidebook on writing resolutions. We also understand that many before us have written resolutions regarding the expansion to invite all honorably discharged men and women to join the AL. Help us to understand why these resolutions have continually been turned down. What can we do to write a successful resolution before membership numbers drop lower? Thank you for your answer in advance.


Dear Legionnaire;

Please know that all resolutions forwarded to the Resolutions Committee are carefully considered and taken seriously. While all resolutions are not adopted, they are all definitely reviewed and considered in earnest.

The resolution that you discuss is much more complicated than most, as it calls upon The American Legion to change, not only our bylaws, but our charter as well. As you are aware our charter is congressionally mandated, and requesting a change involves more than just the approval of a resolution.

The issue of expanding the membership criterion of The American Legion is an ongoing discussion that the departments and Legion leadership regularly review. There have been many suggestions that include expanding membership to Cold War veterans, expanded Global War On Terror veterans, as well as your department’s suggestion of expanding membership to all veterans.

The commission that handles this is the membership commission and the Internal Affairs Division.

Thank you for contacting the Legislative Division and please remember that we are here to support you, and all of the 2.4 million members of The American Legion.

Louis J. Celli Jr.
Director, National Legislative Division
Washington, D.C.


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  3. I've never commented before on TAL's website. But a discussion on LinkedIn lead me to this particular Legislative Q&A article. Then I read the two comments above from "kopetpdzxp." It would appear, from the content, that there is no moderation of the comments as neither of them has anything whatsoever to do with the topic. Now...

    Having said that, and admitting to a general ignorance of the legislative/parliamentary procedures of TAL, my thoughts on the topic... It would appear to me that the Resolutions Committee is THE decision making entity for our American Legion. If they control which items go forward, then they have, in fact, the power to decide which issue are allowed to be addressed by the membership. If they do anything more than review the proposed resolution for grammar/spelling and any outright illegal issues, then it appears to me that they are "voting" on whether the issue is heard. If a resolution is vapid, for example, let the greater body simply vote it down. If a resolution presents problems that the leadership considers insurmountable, let them explain that to the membership. If the membership overrides leadership's concerns, and the resolution is passed, that simply provides guidance to the leadership as to how the members wish it to proceed. Nothing is instantaneous.

    So... being unmoderated, I presume this won't be read by many, either. Oh well. Vent complete.

  4. M. Ingersoll you are absolutely right. Resolutions are put to Congress at the behest of the resolutions committee. They stop the resolutions - not Congress.
    The American Legion is not as democratic as they would like everyone to believe. Why is Lebanon 1982 eligible and not Lebanon 1958. 1958 was awarded an AFEM but 1982 was a Navy/Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal and everyone, in Lebanon or not, is eligible. Can't get an explanation from anyone.

  5. We didn't fire a shot but--- our big guns were loaded!!! and pointed!! One shot away from a big war with the USSR. But we stopped it, and we are not eligible to join the American Legion!!

  6. We didn't fire a shot but--- our big guns were loaded!!! and pointed!! One shot away from a big war with the USSR. But we stopped it, and we are not eligible to join the American Legion!!

  7. Have been a member for 7 years and now being kicked out because I was short 3 months of the American Legions eligilability . I signed up in the Army march 1975 and the end of the Vietnam war was may 1975. I entered active duty sept 1975 under delayed entry because I was still in school waiting to graduate. now till me how the aAmerican Legions actions are even condonable. I am a veteran who served his country ,and am classified as a Vietnam Era vet buy every other government agency, VA etc. Its not just me you are messing with a whole lot of veterans who are not very happy. Are you going to reimburse us for all our annual dues that you so happyily took or are we going to have to hire laywers and get them back. I personally would like to keep my membership.

  8. "The commission that handles this is the membership commission and the Internal Affairs Division."
    Who are the members of the above groups ?
    How do they get into those jobs?
    How can we contact them directly?
    How can we contact, Louis J. Celli Jr.
    Director, National Legislative Division
    Washington, D.C., directly?
    It is extremely difficult to know what is going on in the Legions upper bureaucracy, and to find out what is being done. Obviously, a forum such as this, is not the answer.
    This old membership restriction issue is so obviously not being properly handled, and corrected. It is shameful, that the Legion is rejecting honorable veterans, because of some archaic rule. Certainly, there is no one in congress who wishes for that to happen, so do not try to blame it on them. Stop ignoring your responsibility, and just get it done!

  9. I joined the Navy in 1955, March I believe and was honorably discharged in 1960. It's a damn shame that men and women like me are rejected from joining because a state of war was not present during out enlistment. Our intension's were the same as anyone joining during a war effort, but because we fall into a lull area, were considered unexceptionable. Hell of a way to be treated by the government you were willing and proud to fight for, don't you think!