One of The American Legion’s strengths is the organization’s ability to mobilize Legionnaires across the country. The ability to mobilize members at the post and department levels was further enhanced during the 1975 spring meeting of the National Executive Committee when American Legion leadership approved Resolution No. 45 establishing the National Legislative Council. The Outline of Authorization was updated in 2013 by Resolution No. 1.
The intent of the National Legislative Council is to “propagate an interest in a furtherance of the legislative goals of The American Legion and to serve as a medium for disseminating information and developing an understanding with our elected representatives.” The Legislative Council is overseen by the National Legislative Commission, which is charged with keeping the council membership up to date as well as ensuring it remains a “vital force capable of immediate effective action when members of the council are called upon.”
The National Legislative Council is comprised of 535 members – one for each member of Congress. Council members are appointed by the national commander following the recommendations from The American Legion’s departments. Appointments to the council are two years long or until Dec. 31, following the next general election of members of Congress. However, the chairman of the council is appointed annually. The current chairman is Mr. E.C. Toppin of the Department of North Carolina. The council is currently staffed by John Kamin, Legislative Associate and Grassroots Coordinator for the National Legislative Division based in Washington, D.C.
Each member of the council is tasked with serving as a liaison between The American Legion and a member of Congress. The council is most effective when members have personal relationships with the lawmaker to which they are assigned. An established relationship supports a structure that serves as a medium for disseminating information and of developing an understanding with representatives in Congress.
Legionnaires who are already politically active within their communities, districts and states are best fit to serve in these roles. The relationship between the Legionnaire and their elected representative is one of established trust, where the judgment and advice of the Legionnaire is respected by the elected official. Legionnaires interested in joining the Legislative Council should contact their post or department for more information.
The council serves a critical role in promoting The American Legion’s legislative priorities in Congress. Together — along with the National Legislative Commission and the lobbying efforts of the National Legislative Division — Legionnaires ensure that the nation’s veterans will be taken care of and honored for generations to come.