Staff members from The American Legion's National Headquarters office in Washington, D.C., speak with Texas Rep. Roger Williams inside his office July 13 on Capitol Hill. Photo by Holly K. Soria

Legion continues efforts in garnering coin bill support

It’s been a little over a month since staff members from The American Legion’s National Headquarters office in Washington, D.C., visited Capitol Hill to request co-sponsorship from congressional offices for H.R. 2519 and S. 1182, the Legion’s 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act.

Since that time, the Legion has been working hard to encourage its members to contact their representatives and senators to support this important legislation.

“Now that the House of Representatives is in recess, meaning the members of Congress are not in D.C., they cannot officially be added to the coin bill until September 5,” said American Legion Legislative Commission Chairman James Oxford. “The Senate will either be in regular session for one or two more weeks. During the recess, congressional staffers have more time, permitting them to schedule meetings easier and allowing us to supply them with information.”

Although Congress is currently dealing with other issues such as health care, the National Defense Authorization Act, and passing of the Forever GI Bill (or Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act), Oxford said the Legion is confident it will reach its goal of 300 co-sponsors.

“In the Senate, our official number is 70 which means we passed the minimum of 67 to get unanimous consent for the bill,” Oxford said. “We are still actively engaging other senators and requesting co-sponsorship. We hope to advance the bill soon.”

As of July 30, about 269 House representatives stand in support of H.R. 2519. Oxford said there is still a lot of work to do, however, as the Legion is still 21 members away from the 290 required.

“Our goal is to pass 300 and with members of Congress being back home, the grassroots level is a great way to encourage our members (Legionnaires) to join this veteran-centric legislation,” he said. “This also serves as a way for our National Legislative Division staff to sit down with the remaining congressional offices and request their support.”

Unique among U.S. Mint products, the Legion centennial coin will help raise money for important causes as well as commemorate important aspects of American history and culture. The funds gained from this bill, introduced last month, would support the Legion’s four pillars of service:

• Veterans services such as health care benefits and claims assistance, employment and homeless veteran initiatives;

• Military personnel and their families, including comfort items for the hospitalized and financial assistance for military families;

• Americanism programs that promote patriotism, citizenship, flag protocol and education; as well as

• Youth programs such as Boys State and Boys Nation, Family Support Network, National Oratorical Contest, American Legion Baseball and more.

This legislation is at no net cost to the government. Thanks to the co-sponsorship from all members of the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, along with others, Oxford said the Legion is honored and proud of the work it does as an organization devoted to mutual helpfulness.

“This is all due to the great amount of teamwork and devotion from everyone involved. We simply can’t thank them enough,” he said.

The American Legion 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act provides Congress with a valuable way to thank the Legion for its service to the nation, and to invest in the organization’s shared values. If authorized by Congress, commemorative coins minted would be issued only during the one-year period beginning on Jan. 1, 2019.

Legionnaires are encouraged to ask their Congress members for co-sponsorship of this important legislation by sending a prepared message here.