By Aila Boyd
President Donald Trump signed the LEGION Act (Let Everyone Get Involved In Opportunities for National Service Act) late last month, which will allow roughly 6 million veterans the opportunity to become members of the American Legion.
Rep. Ben Cline, the freshman Republican who represents Botetourt County, co-authored the bipartisan bill in the House of Representatives with Rep. Lou Correa, D-Calif. The Senate version was introduced by Sen. Krysten Sinema, D-Ariz., in February at which time Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., joined as a sponsor.
Cline noted that veterans’ issues allow members of Congress the opportunity to work across party lines, cutting through what he described as the “partisanships that has bogged down Washington.”
“This is a momentous occasion for all veterans who have honorably served in the United States Armed Forces,” Cline said in a press release. “I thank President Trump for signing the LEGION Act into law and expanding the reach of the American Legion to even more of our nation’s heroes. This is the type of bipartisan work I am proud to do in Congress. I will continue to join with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to best serve the people of Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District as we tackle the challenges facing our nation.”
Cline spoke about the importance of the LEGION Act during his first town hall in Botetourt County in April. He described the American Legion as being “a great organization that does so much across the country.”
“Only veterans of active conflicts have been able to join in the past. Now anybody who was honorably discharged during a time of peace or war will be able to become a member,” Cline explained. “This is a great opportunity for the American Legion to expand and a great opportunity for the men and women who have served this country to take advantage of the offerings of the organization.”
In a press release distributed following Trump’s signing of the bill, The American Legion said that its eligibility criteria has now been changed “from seven war eras to two: April 6, 1917, to November 11, 1918, and December 7, 1941 to a time later determined by the federal government. No other restrictions to American Legion membership are changed.”
“This is a huge victory for the American Legion and Post 93 would like to thank Congressman Ben Cline for his personal involvement in the legislation. Post 93 in Buchanan fully supports the new legislation,” Frank Ware, post adjutant, said.
American Legion Post 240 Commander Dennis Craft said that he’s aware of at least one local individual who had expressed interest in joining the American Legion but was prevented from doing so due to the previous membership restrictions.
When asked if he plans to run for re-election, Cline said that he currently plans to do so.