American Legion Post 534 Commander Tom Downs has waited years to welcome fellow veterans home.

President Trump signed The LEGION Act (Let Everyone Get In Opportunities for National Service Act) on July 30. The bill declares the U.S. has been in a state of war since Dec. 7, 1941, opening up membership to the American Legion to about 6 million more veterans.

“It now opens membership to the Legion for all those millions of veterans who have been left out for so many years,” Downs, said. “It brings the rest of the family home if you will.”

The bill also allows family members of veterans to access benefits they have previously missed, as well as membership to the Sons of the American Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary.

A news release from the American Legion Post 534 notes, “The American Legion sought the declaration as a way to honor approximately 1,600 U.S. service members who were killed our wounded during previously undeclared periods of war.”

Now that the legislation has been signed, the American Legion’s eligibility criteria immediately changes from seven war eras to two: April 6, 1917, to Nov. 11, 1918, and Dec. 7, 1941, to a time later determined by the federal government. No other restrictions to American Legion membership are changed.

To be a member of the American Legion, a veteran must serve at least one day of active military duty since Dec. 7, 1941, and be honorably discharged or currently serving.

Those who are interested should contact or visit their local American Legion Post to speak with a representative.

– Cottage Grove: Post 248, 116 W. Reynolds St., Cottage Grove, WI 53527

– McFarland: Post 534, 4911 Burma Road, P.O. Box 556, McFarland, WI 53558

–Madison: Post 501, 105 Dempsey Road, Madison, WI 53614

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