TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A new law could impact hundreds of thousands of veterans across the country, including right here in Southern Arizona.
“Every post has a unique personality and a unique opportunity to help the community," said Ben Headen, a United States Air Force veteran.
The LEGION Act (Let Everyone Get Involved In Opportunities for National Service Act) was signed by President Donald Trump last month.
The bill extends American Legion membership to honorably discharged veterans since World War II, with the eligibility now spanning from December 7, 1941, until a time when the U.S. is no longer at war, as determined by Congress.
Previously, only veterans who served during periods of declared hostilities were able to join the Legion.
“We’re ecstatic that this has happened," said Headen. “It’s a process that we’ve been trying to have changed for a while.”
Headen is a former membership director, now a candidate for Commander of The American Legion’s Department of Arizona.
According to The American Legion, the bill will give about six million veterans access to Legion programs and benefits for which they previously had not been eligible.
The LEGION Act was sponsored by Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema and North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis.
“As membership director, a former membership director, that was one of the questions we’d be talking to veterans and they’d say, ‘We’d love to join your organization, however we don’t fall into the time periods that Congress has dictated as a conflict of war,'” said Headen.
“I know multiple posts around the state, the minute it was signed the members were already at the post, did the application and processed the applications to become members of the American Legion," Headaen said.