The American Legion, an organization of U.S. war veterans, was issued a federal charter by Congress on this day in history on Sept. 16, 1919, for its continued aid to wounded warriors and military families, legacy of community volunteerism and significant role in establishing important national legislation, according to the official website of The American Legion.
The American Legion also provides free, professional assistance — for any veteran — in filing and pursuing benefits claims before the Department of Veterans Affairs, the same source cited.
It was founded in Paris on March 15–17, 1919, by delegates from combat and service units of the American Expeditionary Force, Britannica.com indicated.
The national charter granted by the U.S. Congress on Sept. 16, 1919, was subsequently amended to admit veterans of World War II (1942), the Korean War (1950), the Vietnam War (1966), the Lebanon, Grenada and Panama hostilities (1990), and Operation Desert Shield/Storm (1991), the same source noted.
The American Legion is both nonpolitical and nonsectarian. The organizations’ membership criteria is honorable service and an honorable discharge, noted several sources.
The American Legion’s national headquarters are located in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The American Legion is made up of veterans and service members and has over two million members and 14,000 posts nationwide, making it the largest Veteran Service Organization in the United States, according to Veterans.com.
One of the American Legion’s missions is to care for disabled and sick veterans. The organization was instrumental in establishing hospitals and other services for World War I veterans — services that have been expanded to meet the needs of veterans of later wars, Britannica.com recounted.
The organization has been and continues to this day to be instrumental regarding America's veterans and service members. The Legion successfully sponsored the creation of the U.S. Veterans Administration in 1930, according to Britannica.com.
Also, the American Legion drafted the first "Flag Code," which was adopted by Congress in 1942. Known as the Federal Flag Code, it contains rules for handling and displaying the U.S. flag, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
In 1944, it played an important role in the enactment of the GI Bill of Rights for World War II veterans, and later in supporting similar legislation for Korean War veterans, the same source recounted.
"These measures afforded college or vocational training to more than 10,500,000 veterans and enabled more than 5,600,000 veterans to purchase homes under the loan provisions of the act," Britannica.com stated.
In 1989, as the result of an American Legion-led effort to ensure that veterans have representation within the federal government, the then-Veterans Administration received Cabinet-level status as the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to Veterans.com.
The American Legion has more than 12,000 posts in communities throughout the United States. In addition to posts in every state, The American Legion has posts in the District of Columbia, France, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Philippines, according to the American Legion.
Presently, the organization sponsors thousands of Boy Scout troops and junior baseball teams.
Since 1919, American Legion posts have sponsored over 2,500 scouting units across the country, and annually, The American Legion honors an Eagle Scout of the Year with a $10,000 scholarship, the same source cited.
Legion Baseball was formed in 1925 and today the program registers more than 5,400 teams in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico, according to The American Legion.
Also, approximately 20,000 young men annually participate in Boys State, a Legion program dedicated to promoting leadership.
Boys State alumni include former President Bill Clinton, news commentator Tom Brokaw, professional basketball player Michael Jordan, astronaut Neil Armstrong and many more, the same source indicated.
The work of The American Legion is impactful — and members are continuing to care for and meet the needs of veterans, their families and community.