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.


  1. Dear.Legionare Commander.My Name is Vicente Ferdinand. Member @ Post 368 State of Virginia; My question today is in regards to,The American Legion posicion on Social Security Benefits for Wounded Veterans Whom have Paid in to the System then was wounded while Serving in the Military. Had a Total of 15 creditable quotas,but not enought to qualify under Social Security Rules. If a Veteran is Considered by Both The VA.& Social Security Judge to be Diable. That Veteran can't received SS.Benefits due to quotas Rules. But if that Veteran is not able to continue in any gainful Employment due to Disability? The Rules should have Made that Veteran with More than TEN quotas In My Opinion Elegible Due to His or Her Disabilty. Has A Waiver in such Cases.
    Would You Please address this issue for all Wounded Warriors!

    Thanks Sincerely
    Vicente Ferdinand

  2. With all due respect Commander, yes, the by-laws and our charter would require amending.....So? Let us amend both, it is not an impossibility, the VFW has done so with their by-laws and charter. Let's face it, the big stumbling block is not the aforementioned, the problem all comes down to money! The AL doesn't wish to lose our tax exemption status awarded to "wartime veterans." So be it, understood, but we shouldn't have to lose this status if we change a word or two in the IRS Code Section that reads - "To meet the membership requirement at least 90% of the members must be "war veterans"...then it goes on to state "For the purpose of the 90% test, war veterans may include members of "expeditionary forces," who actually served in combat situations in foreign countries between the periods of war as defined. "

    All well and good, understood, but! How about those veterans who served between periods of declared wars that were shot-down, held POW or were shot at in these foreign countries? Do they not deserve membership? When an individual who has served 20 years stateside is allowed membership since he served during a time of war, is not the veteran that found themselves within the aforementioned categories deserving of membership? Why not simply work with the IRS to remove the wording "expeditionary forces," and replace it with "any veterans who actually served in combat situations in foreign countries." Doesn't that veteran who was shot at by the North Koreans while flying a routine patrol off the coast of Korea deserve membership just as much if not more so than the vet sitting in Navcomsta San Francisco during the Vietnam War? In so doing, we are not changing the wartime requirement that would cause us to lose our tax exempt status.

    Changing by-laws and charters is not an impossibility, it is written by man and therefore can be changed by man!

  3. I served 14+ years in the National Guard, but the only active duty time I had was basic training, annual training, several 2-week schools. I served from October 1957 until June 1972 and understand I am not eligible for membership or veterans benefits. How can I check this?

  4. Eligibility in the American Legion is stated in our Constitution. You had to serve on active duty during on of the wartime periods. As far as VA benefits I suggest you talk to a Veterans Service Office in the State and County where you live. I believe the law is that you need to have served 180 days on active duty to qualify for veterans benefits.

  5. We all served our country many soldiers payed the altermate sacrifice active reserve and national gaurd Strength only in numbers(membership)