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A moment in time

How long do you have to serve on active duty to be eligible to join The American Legion?

Just one day of honorable service during a congressionally determined war era:

  • April 6, 1917 to Nov. 11, 1918 (World War I)
  • Dec. 7, 1941 to Dec. 31, 1946 (World War II)
  • June 25, 1950 to Jan. 31, 1955 (Korean War)
  • Feb. 28, 1961 to May 7, 1975 (Vietnam War)
  • Aug. 24, 1982 to July 31, 1984 (Lebanon/Grenada)
  • Dec. 20, 1989 to Jan. 31, 1990 (Panama)
  • Aug. 2, 1990 to today (Gulf War/War On Terrorism)

It has been this way ever since the formation of the Legion in 1919. The feeling is that all those who take the oath of service immediately assume a risk to themselves, and that they are thus all equally deserving.

This means that servicemembers currently on active duty are certainly eligible to be members. Visit to read about the great reasons to continue your service as part of the Legion.

How was creating a home for Post 11 in South Dakota a real team effort?


Which U.S. president did the drum corps from New Hampshire's Post 25 meet in 1929?




January 3, 2013 - 3:10pm

The "requirements" for joining the AL has been a bone of contention with me since I joined many years ago. I realize that the "rules" were set down many years ago, at the end of "The War to End All Wars". the originators never thinking that there would be anything like the world had just experienced. Well, we of course know different. The requirements then [and remain to this day] were being on active duty "during time of war". Since 11/11/19 we have been involved in many conflicts, as well as years of peace. But Americans nonetheless volunteered for active duty to serve and protect America. Yet these "Grey Era" soldiers are denied membership in the AL. We are supposed to be an organizations of Veterans yet we don't recognize the service of those in the "Grey Eras".
I have been told, "if you don't like it",write a resolution!!!
Why has the "leadership" over the years not recognized this??? The millions of potential new members "lost" or felt "ostracized" by the AL because of "what"??? Leadership??? I'll leave it at that.....

don gibson

January 14, 2014 - 9:13am

I couldn't believe more than the above posting. I just found out last evening at the council meeting that a council member could not join the AL because of this ruling. I am a Viet Nam infantry soldier and this to me is dispicable. To deny an american who served is as bad as not letting the minister say grace, because of a period of time in religion. I will be dropping my membership at the end of this term, even though the AL does many good things.


January 6, 2013 - 5:18pm

I agree with the above post... We need to change legisltaion for memebership in the Legion.....I was post Vietnam but becasue the war was officially over I cannot be a Legionaire I can only join the auxilary yet i signed my name on the dotted line to protect and serve my country like all the rest.. It needs to be changed to serve ALL veterans...


August 18, 2014 - 3:43pm

I was in the indian ocean during the iran crisis in the late 70's USN. War? no...Risk of life? yes...I was first slapped and realized the bias of the legion when my daughter graduated High school and we realized my service did not qualify her for a local Legion scholarship. I'm not sure but if the legion is supported by tax dollars at all but if so this practice is probably illegal as well as illogical.

Adam B. Mergist II

November 4, 2014 - 12:04pm

I am a grey Era Vet and appreciate the above post. I would like nothing more than have the opportunity to join A.L. We are today's forgotten Vet's. It is if our time service and dedication meant nothing. Still I am a proud Marine and was happy to do my part. Semper Fi.

C. Schwartz

November 10, 2014 - 7:22pm

Thank you for all the above comments. I too am a "grey era vet" who served on active duty before Lebanon/Grenada and then again before Panama and Gulf War, before my discharge in 1994. However, after 10 years of service I am not allowed to join because my active duty time does not meet the requirements. To me this unwritten statement says that I am not a veteran, which I totally disagree with. When I signed on the dotted line and took my oath, I agreed that I would serve this country even if it mean giving up my life. Afford me the respect of allowing me to be a "veteran" at least in the eyes of the American Legion.

B. Churchill

November 26, 2014 - 10:07pm

I am a Vietnam veteran, and a 14 year non-active member of the American Legion. I very recently retired, and became an active member of our local American Legion Post. I have become a member of the Honor Guard in our post, and very proudly served in my first military funeral today. As proud as I am to once again put on the uniform representing our country, I have to tell you, I was filled with even more emotion when I recently found out the membership into the Legion is restricted to only those who served during a,"war." That rule NEEDS TO CHANGE! As one other person said, it may have seemed a good idea when they made it in 1919, but it DEFiNATELY is not appropriate Lin 2014. PLEASE, let's start a movement to get this rule changed,so we can allow our, "brothers and sisters" who served our country in peace times, a chance to join the American Legion. It is the RIGHT thing to do.


April 20, 2015 - 8:38pm

I agree any Veteran should be eligible They took the oath and signed on the dotted line. I was not aware of these rules and will likely reconsider my membership...Its time to change


September 1, 2015 - 11:00am

I agree that many veteran organizations try to make it sound like other veterans are not "real" veterans. But, I would like to point out that the Legion is by far the least of these offenders, and much more welcoming than, oh, say the VFW!

Truth be told, any veteran, or veteran organization that says "you aren't a real veteran, because..." should be removed from the map. Such talk belittling other veterans is akin to treason.

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