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.


  • SJ Coupel USAF 1956-1960. Served in Kunsan , Korea with 3rd bomb wing.

    Member VFW for having served in Korea,but not elgible for membership in the American Legion.


  • Conley Ford Feb. 8, 2014
    To: Michele S. Steinmetz, Membership Division
    The American Legion National Headquarters
    Please forward to National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger and Members of the National
    Executive Committee.
    Dear Ms. Steinmetz:
    Again I still ask why we, as veterans and members of the American Legion organization, continue to discriminate against many of our brother veterans after 95 years by treating them as second class veterans because of service eligibility dates. It is time to tear this wall down! Conley W. Ford
    Thank you for your prompt response to my Feb. 6, 2014 e-mail, addressed to our National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger and Members of the National Executive Committee, regarding American Legion membership eligibility. However, while I understand why my original email was forwarded to you as membership chairman, I was a bit disappointed that my email sent to Deborah K. Andrews at the American Legion National Headquarters was not sent to those to whom it was addressed.
    Your response including a brief (AL) American Legion history and changing eligibility dates coupled with current statistical data help support my point and gets to the crux of the issue: membership eligibility dates need to be eliminated. As you indicated, since the first approval of AL charter of 1919 there have been several changes in membership eligibility dates. Going forward there would be no need to change the charter over the eligibility dates if the AL removed that restriction altogether! Only then will every veteran be viewed as having the same basic status. We can and must put an end to classifying veterans according to their service dates or over fear of degrading organizational traditions.
    As a long time AL member, a charter member of two Posts, and founder of a Post, I am not proud of our organization when I come in contact with my fellow veterans who do not qualify for membership due to service eligibility dates. On different occasions when out trying to recruit AL members, I have often met veterans that do not qualify for the AL. These proud veterans often relate to me that they cannot understand why the AL has branded them as second -class veterans even though they served our country. The argument over a wartime Veteran versus a peacetime Veteran should be put to rest by the AL: the reality is a Veteran is Veteran is a Veteran. Our nation has and will always be theoretically at war whether it is over budget funding to maintain and improve our national defense; protecting our borders and interests at sea and overseas; or engaged with a hostile enemy at home or abroad. The AL National leadership should seize the moment and prepare a resolution to be voted on at our next national convention eliminating all military service dates as a perquisite for joining the AL.
    As you can see, I feel very strongly about this issue and am willing to help fight for change. However, I feel that by starting at the grassroots level, there could be major delays and I would be sent jumping through a lot of AL bureaucratic organizational channels before a resolution would be properly crafted and made acceptable to present on the floor at the upcoming 2014 National Convention.
    I further believe an issue of this kind and scope would be better handled from the top down rather than from the bottom up. Therefore to avoid any delays and to put this on a fast track, it is my recommendation that the National Commander and members of the National Committee should take this issue on preparing a charter change resolution that stipulates the removal of all military service dates as a perquisite for veterans t o join the AL and present this for a vote at our next national convention.
    Respectfully yours,
    Conley W. Ford -19 Sylvester Road, Scituate, MA 02066 email: cfordcon@comcast.net
    USAF Veteran 1960-1968 Founder - Past Post Commander & Member Scituate of AL Post 144, Scituate

  • John Noce This is only right!

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