The American Legion

The American Legion was chartered and incorporated by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization devoted to mutual helpfulness. It is the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization, committed to mentoring youth and sponsorship of wholesome programs in our communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting strong national security, and continued devotion to our fellow servicemembers and veterans.

Hundreds of local American Legion programs and activities strengthen the nation one community at a time. American Legion Baseball is one of the nation’s most successful amateur athletic programs, educating young people about the importance of sportsmanship, citizenship and fitness. The Operation Comfort Warriors program supports recovering wounded warriors and their families, providing them with “comfort items” and the kind of support that makes a hospital feel a little bit more like home. The Legion also raises millions of dollars in donations at the local, state and national levels to help veterans and their families during times of need and to provide college scholarship opportunities.

The American Legion is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization with great political influence perpetuated by its grass-roots involvement in the legislation process from local districts to Capitol Hill. Legionnaires’ sense of obligation to community, state and nation drives an honest advocacy for veterans in Washington. The Legion stands behind the issues most important to the nation’s veterans community, backed by resolutions passed by volunteer leadership.

The American Legion’s success depends entirely on active membership, participation and volunteerism. The organization belongs to the people it serves and the communities in which it thrives.

History

The American Legion was chartered by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization. Focusing on service to veterans, service members and communities, the Legion evolved from a group of war-weary veterans of World War I into one of the most influential nonprofit groups in the United States. Membership swiftly grew to over 1 million, and local posts sprang up across the country. Today, membership stands at over 2 million in more than 13,000 posts worldwide. The posts are organized into 55 departments: one each for the 50 states, along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, France, Mexico and the Philippines.

Over the years, the Legion has influenced considerable social change in America, won hundreds of benefits for veterans and produced many important programs for children and youth.

For a chronology of significant dates in Legion history, click here.

Preamble to the Constitution

FOR GOD AND COUNTRY WE ASSOCIATE OURSELVES TOGETHER
FOR THE FOLLOWING PURPOSES:
To uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America;
To maintain law and order;
To foster and perpetuate a one hundred percent Americanism;
To preserve the memories and incidents of our associations in the Great Wars;
To inculcate a sense of individual obligation to the community, state and nation;
To combat the autocracy of both the classes and the masses;
To make right the master of might;
To promote peace and goodwill on earth;
To safeguard and transmit to posterity the principles of justice, freedom and democracy;
To consecrate and sanctify our comradeship by our devotion to mutual helpfulness.

Eligibility Information

If you have served federal active duty in the United States Armed Forces during any of the war eras listed below, and have been honorably discharged or are still serving — you are eligible for membership in The American Legion!

AUGUST 2, 1990 TO TODAY (PERSIAN GULF/ WAR ON TERRORISM)*
DECEMBER 20, 1989 TO JANUARY 31, 1990 (OPERATION JUST CAUSE – PANAMA)
AUGUST 24, 1982 TO JULY 31, 1984 (LEBANON/GRENADA)
FEBRUARY 28, 1961 TO MAY 7, 1975 (VIETNAM)
JUNE 25, 1950 TO JANUARY 31, 1955 (KOREA)
DECEMBER 7, 1941 TO DECEMBER 31, 1946 (WORLD WAR II)
APRIL 6, 1917 TO NOVEMBER 11, 1918 (WORLD WAR I)

*Because eligibility dates remain open, all members of the U.S. Armed Forces are eligible to join The American Legion at this time, until the date of the end of hostilities as determined by the government of the United States.

U.S. Merchant Marine eligible only from December 7, 1941 to December 31, 1946 (WWII).