This informational guide was produced on behalf of our membership, the wartime veterans of the 20th and the 21st century, who can be found in more than 14,000 posts and nearly every community across our great nation.
Still serving: it’s who we are
In 1919, The American Legion was founded on four pillars: Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation, National Security, Americanism, and Children & Youth. Each of these pillars encompasses a variety of programs that benefit our nation’s veterans, its service members, their families, the youth of
Pillar I: Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation
For nearly 90 years, The American Legion has acted as the nation’s leading advocate for proper health care, economic opportunity and legal benefits for
Pillar II: National Security
Since its founding in 1919, The American Legion remains steadfast in its support of a strong national defense, which is reflected in the Preamble to The American Legion Constitution: “To uphold and defend the Constitution of the
• A well-funded, well-equipped and well-trained military.
• Awareness and surveillance of rogue nations, terrorist groups and global threats to
• Support for the Department of Homeland Security and urging its steadfast protection of
• Comprehensive disaster preparedness.
• A decent quality of life for troops and their families – active-duty and reserve components alike – that includes reasonable compensation, benefits, health care, child care and family-support programs; and an efficient and compassionate healing and transition program for wounded and ill warriors. Matters such as transition to civilian life, and using the VA health-care system, TRICARE or TRICARE for Life also fall within the realm of national security. The American Legion represents military members during the medical discharge process and assists in their pursuit of education benefits, employment counseling, training and health care.
The American Legion works as an advocate for an improved disability evaluation system within the Department of the Defense by providing counseling, guidance and representation for service members through the proceedings of the medical evaluation boards and physical evaluation boards. Staff regularly meets one-on-one with military personnel and in group settings to alert them to the resources and opportunities available as they prepare to return home.
Pillar III: Americanism
Many cultural, moral and patriotic values have come under serious attack in the
U.S. Flag Protection
The U.S. Constitution should be amended to add the following: “The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the
The American Legion supports manageable, legal immigration. By multiple resolutions that determine policy, the Legion adamantly opposes illegal immigration, amnesty for those who illegally enter the
Voter Registration and Participation
The American Legion connects good government with active citizen participation in the electoral process. Legion posts throughout the country offer their services and facilities to stimulate registration and turnout at the polls. Posts also provide facilities and opportunities for non-partisan, voter-education forums and debates. Under the provisions of its federal charter, it is important to note that The American Legion is prohibited from supporting, opposing or providing aid to any political party or any candidate for public office.
Boy Scouts of
The American Legion vigorously opposes attempts to strip the Boy Scouts of public support, sponsorship and facility space due to the organization’s membership or leadership criteria. The Scouts teach skills, build character, and provide a healthy and wholesome outlet for young Americans. The organization should not be punished or persecuted for acknowledging God in its oath or for setting leadership restrictions based on a moral code that the majority of Americans endorse.
The Pledge of Allegiance
Recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance by students and teachers in our nation’s schools should be a regular part of school activities and events. In support of keeping “under God” in the pledge, The American Legion affirms that pledging allegiance to the flag is the voluntary offering of a patriotic oath to the nation, that no one should be denied this opportunity, and that the removal of these words will set a precedent that questions the propriety of numerous references to a supreme being in historical documents, on currency and on many of our government buildings, including the U.S. Supreme Court.
The American Legion is dedicated to combating the secular cleansing of our American heritage, performed by lawsuits that attack the Boy Scouts, the public display of the Ten Commandments and other symbols of
The American Legion Legacy Run
“My dad had an impact on my life that no one else could have on me. He was so many things to me; he was my support, my guide, my confidant and my comfort. Losing him was the worst thing that I have ever had happen in my life. I would like to honor him and would like to make him and my family proud by achieving my goals. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to make this happen.”
The words of a college student whose military father lost his life after the tragic terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, demonstrate just how important it is to live up to one of The American Legion’s – and our nation’s – most important obligations. Within weeks of the attacks, The American Legion Legacy Scholarship was established to help young people whose parents have lost their lives serving in the armed forces in the years following 9/11. Children of
Pillar IV: Children & Youth
The American Legion’s Commission on Children & Youth manages a pillar of service guided by three main objectives: to strengthen the family unit, to support quality organizations that provide services for children and youth, and to provide communities with well-rounded programs that meet the physical, educational, emotional and spiritual needs of young people. The commission works to provide hope for children who face health, safety, discipline or home-life challenges and provides opportunities for young people to succeed. The American Legion Child Welfare Foundation provides more than $500,000 in grants to nonprofit organizations each year that work to improve the lives of young people. These grants have aided organ-donor campaigns, supported efforts to help military children cope with deployment or loss of a parent, and funded projects that increased public awareness of Huntington’s Disease, autism, Reyes Syndrome, meningitis, spinabifida, diabetes, cancer and other conditions. The Commission on Children & Youth has focused recent attention on several important national programs, including the Children’s Miracle Network, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Special Olympics, youth suicide prevention, Halloween safety, Family Support Network and Temporary Financial Assistance for families of the deployed, and Operation: Military Kids, among others. The American Legion has been a staunch supporter of the children and youth of our nation since its founding in 1919. The commitment continues today for the National Commission on Children & Youth, as it seeks to improve the well-being of all children. Every generation of veterans knows that the key to the future of a free and prosperous country is held by the children and youth of today. The Legion strongly supports traditional family values, assistance for at-risk children, and activities that promote their healthy and wholesome development. While there is no way of knowing what issues will face our youth tomorrow, our survival may well depend on the quality of care, education and training that we, as parents and citizens, provide for young people today. The American Legion’s Children & Youth pillar includes positions on:
Child Pornography. The Legion opposes any attempts to weaken
Catastrophic Illness. The American Legion supports enacting legislation to financially assist families facing catastrophic illness of a child.
Intellectual Disabilities. The American Legion supports continuing research, and early intervention efforts, to prevent intellectual disabilities, including research on the development and function of the nervous system, fetal treatments and gene therapy to correct abnormalities produced by defective genes and early intervention programs with high-risk infants and children.
Immunization for Needy Children. The Legion urges federal funding for state and local health agencies to ensure that indigent children are afforded the opportunity to receive needed vaccines and treatments.
Family Integrity. The Legion promotes the family as the cornerstone of society and supports National Family Week in November. The Legion further recognizes that the natural family is the fundamental unit, inscribed in human nature and centered on the voluntary union of a man and woman in a lifelong covenant of marriage.
Media Violence. The American Legion supports appropriate state and federal legislation to restrict the excessive use of violence, vulgarity and immoral expressions in movies, television programs, news, video games and the Internet.
Drug Abuse. The American Legion fully supports adequate funding for all border, state, federal and military drug-trafficking prevention programs to keep illegal substances from reaching our nation’s young people.
Child Sexual Exploitation. The American Legion supports appropriate legislation aimed at the prevention, investigation and prosecution of child sexual exploitation, and seeks to empower the public to take immediate and direct action to enforce a zero-tolerance policy on the problem.
Family Support Network An e-mail sent to The American Legion’s Family Support Network in 2008 read, “I am currently in
Temporary Financial Assistance
Diana, a Lebanon/Grenada-era veteran and single mother of three, bought her first home when she was able to secure a favorable variable interest rate. With the decline of the housing market and increased interest rates, Diana’s monthly payment doubled overnight. No longer able to afford her payment and suddenly in default, Diana discovered the mortgage company would not refinance the loan until she caught up on payments. Temporary Financial Assistance was able to bring her mortgage current, allowing the veteran to refinance her mortgage to an affordable monthly payment.
The American Legion’s Temporary Financial Assistance program helps military and veteran families with minor children at home. Through TFA, a local American Legion post can call upon the national organization for cash assistance to help meet basic needs of veterans’ children. Funding for TFA comes through The American Legion Endowment Fund. In a record-setting 2008, nearly 1,500 children were helped by the fund, amounting to more than $705,700 in disbursements from National Headquarters.
The Samsung American Legion Scholarship
After researching dozens of veterans’ organizations, Samsung Group – a worldwide leader in electronics – chose The American Legion in 1995 to administer an endowed scholarship fund of $5 million. The endowment was established to show appreciation to
Child Welfare Foundation
Not all American children grow up with the same opportunities. Some face physical disabilities, parenting problems and even homelessness. For thousands, each day is a challenge marked by pain, prayer and perseverance. Many require specialized care. That is why The American Legion Child Welfare Foundation exists. Established in 1954, the foundation was developed to collect donations from individuals who wished to contribute to the betterment of children in this country. To date, nearly $10 million has been awarded to organizations to support worthwhile projects through the dissemination of information to the general public and specific target groups. In 2008 the foundation awarded grants totaling $639,695 to 18 nonprofit organizations. Among those grants was $40,000 for the Children’s Organ Transplant Association of Bloomington, Ind., for their project “Miracle Makers: COTA Volunteers in Action.” This grant will provide opportunities for COTA patients across the country to raise awareness of the need for more organ and tissue donors. Other 2008 grants went to such groups as the Huntington’s Disease Society of
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
AMERICAN LEGION NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS
DEPARTMENT OF VIRGINIA HEADQUARTERS
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIR
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