Eligibility for Cold War vets in the American Legion

Members of service defended some of the most dangerous places known to man, and did so with honor and love for God and Country. Some of the service members were wounded, injured, POW\'s, or even KIA. Others were wounded, injured, or killed during day-to-day activities or training missions far from any hostile region. Still others are listed as MIA to this day. All during times of \"peace\". The American Legion itself believes that the Cold War was a WAR. It is the mission of this grassroots effort to offer those Cold War Veterans who served during the non-eligible periods for membership in the American Legion \"tangible recognition for that service\". With the Department of Defense expressing their view that a Cold War Medal is not needed and the American Legion believing the Cold War was a WAR, I petition every member of the American Legion family (Legionaires, Sons, Auxilary) to support an act of Congress to include eligibility for membership in the American Legion to those service members from the five branches of service who served and defended our Country during the Cold War. Some will say that the Cold War was not a real war. The American Legion itself acknowledged in its resolution for a Cold War Victory Medal: \"WHEREAS, The defeat of the former Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies constituted the greatest success of the American armed forces since the end of World War II.\" Some will say that this will open the books to just about anybody in the service. I counter with the fact the books have been open since 1990 (14 years and counting) and that members of the armed forces have been injured, wounded, POW\'s, listed as MIA or KIA during the Cold War. Some of those service members were injured, wounded, POW\'s, listed as MIA or KIA during \"peacetime\". If members of the armed forces were lucky enough to be performing their tasks and assignments during the Cold War outside of the \"hot\" war zones, but during the eligiblity dates, they are eligible for membership, but those who risked life and limb so that our nation would remain free and served outside of those dates are considered not eligible for membership. The issuance of the Cold War Certificate was a tremendous first step. But it was flawed. It recognizes anyone in military or federal service during the Cold War. Soldiers who risked their lives for their country should not be grouped with civilians working at the Post Office as the only recognition for their service. We need to go beyond the Cold War Certificate. For the American Legion to take the lead to recognize the service and sacrifice of EVERY Cold War veteran would show the nation that these brave souls are not forgotten as \"peacetime\" soldiers. The membership rules as they stand now only require one (1) day of service during any eligible period. Some conflicts were \"handled\" by a very minute portion of the armed services but all members of the armed services are considered eligible for membership for that period. Members of Cold War service may have served four (4) or more years in hostile environments and under enemy fire, but are not eligible for membership because it was during \"peacetime\". If it is the Congress that does not want to recognize the Cold War as a conflict, and the Dod does not believe they are worthy of a Cold War Victory Medal, then it is the duty of every American citizen to ensure that the sacrifices of these brave men and women are recognized at a level that is worthy of their sacrifice. Membership in the largest and greatest veterans organization would be worthy of their sacrifice and a tangible recognition for that service. Admittedly, some will become eligible for membership, should Congress recognize the Cold War as a conflict, that never saw a day of action, but doesn\'t every member of the armed services that joins the service during times of conflict understand that at anytime they could be put in harms way to protect the United States of America, and the freedoms and privliges that are afforded her citizens. The American Legion already has such members, and they have served the Legion with pride and honor. An old vet once told me that it takes ten (10) members of service at home to put one (1) soldier on the battlefield or in combat. Since the American Legion does not delineate between combat and homefront, service veterans from the Cold War would fall into the same category as eligible members do now. Please seriously consider what I have put forth to you and think about the sacrifices that were made by those Cold War veterans during times of \"peace\". Please discuss this with your family, friends, Legionaires, Sons, and Auxilary members. It is time to include all veterans who have protected our lives and liberty with theirs during times of conflict and war. May God Bless America and may God bless our veterans, Michael J. Rahilly


Michael J. Rahilly A Cold War veterans son who thinks that the time has come for the American Legion to realize all veterans who have served during times of conflict and war.


  • Robert D Rowan I believe that if you served our country honorably on active duty, you should be eligible to be a member of the American Legion. I have been a member over 50 years, and am proud of that fact.

  • John Noce This is only right!

  • DONALD BUONOMO Served in USN in support of "Lebanon Conflict" July 1958.

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    Jack Paul Bess, Jr.

    1 month ago State: Virginia
    Comments: It is unfair that Soldiers that joined my National Guard Unit who attended AIT 6 months after I completed my AIT are admitted into the American Legion and I am not. None of us were deployed during the Gulf War, but I remain not eligible. I served 6 years of National Guard duty comprising the Gulf War READY TO GO if called-upon and this is UNFAIR !!!
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    2 months ago State: New York
    Comments: Received Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for service in Beirut, Lebanon 1958 and 3 out of 4years foreign service. Separation 12/9/59. Discharge2/2/62.
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    Andrew E. Devlin

    2 months ago State: New York
    Comments: I served honorable in the Marine corps from July 1975 until 1981.
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