GREENSBURG – Last month, President Trump signed the LEGION Act of 2019 into law.

LEGION is short for Let Everyone Get Involved in Opportunities for National Service."

Prior to passage of the LEGION Act, only veterans who served actively after a United States Declaration of War until the hostilities of that war were declared over were eligible to be American Legion members. Accordingly, only veterans serving active duty during World War II, the Korean War, the Bay of Pigs, the Vietnam War, the Dominican Republic, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, the Gulf War, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, the Global War on Terror, Afghanistan, the Iraq War, and the war against the Islamic State (ISIS) were eligible for membership in the American Legion.

The new law grants veterans eligibility during two periods: April 6, 1917 to Nov. 11, 1918, and Dec. 7, 1941 to the present.

Trump has officially recognized that the United States has been at war constantly for 78 years, and therefore any veteran serving at least one day of active duty in those 78 years is eligible to take advantage of Legion benefits including assistance in understanding and applying for military medical benefits, career counseling, education benefits/free and reduced tuition, mental health benefits and counseling, USAA Financial services, reduced government loans for education and home buying, and female-specific services for women veterans, to mention just a few.

"It also affects Sons of the Legion and the Auxiliary, too," said John Tumilty of the Greensburg American Legion. "Sons of the Legion have to be sponsored by their father or their grandfather as well, so it gives all those folks the right to become members as well. We don't have a service officer here right now to help new members, but there are all kinds of funding for things people might not expect. There are emergency funds for members, and it only costs $45 for Legionnaires, $30 for Auxiliary members and $25 for Sons if they'd just sign up,"

"Sons, mothers, daughters, wives, husbands, grandchildren of veterans are all good sponsors for membership," added Auxiliary member Brenda Riehle.

Riehle joined the American Legion over 30 years ago, "Out of respect for those who've served, and almost everyone in my family has served in the Armed Forces. I want to honor them and thank them for their service."

Written on the application for membership in the American Legion auxiliary is written: "In the spirit of service, not self, the mission of the American Legion is to support the American Legion and to honor the sacrifice of those who serve by enhancing the lives of our veterans, military, and their families both at home and abroad. For God and Country, we advocate for veterans, educate our citizens, mentor youth, and promote patriotism, good citizenship, peace and security."

To learn more about the American Legion and membership benefits, go to www.legion.org or call American Legion #129 in Greensburg at 812-663-2199.

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Contact Bill Rethlake at 812-663-3111 ext. 7011 or email bill.rethlake@greensburgdailynews.com