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The American Legion is a national organization of war-time military veterans. To be eligible, a person must have served at least one day of active duty during a period of declared war, as defined by the US Congress. A person need not have actually served in a combat zone, but must have been on active duty status at least one day during a recognized period. Currently, these dates are:

War Era From Until
Persian Gulf Aug 2, 1990 open
Persian Gulf Dec 20, 1989 Jul 31, 1990
Panama/Grenada Aug 24, 1982 Jul 31, 1989
Viet Nam Feb 28, 1961 May 7, 1975
Korea Jun 25, 1950 Jan 31, 1955
World War II* Dec 7, 1941 Dec 31, 1946
World War I Apr 6, 1917 Nov 11, 1918

* Merchant Marines from WWII are eligible, but the dates of service must be between Dec 7th, 1941, and Aug 15th, 1945.

Service members from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard are eligible in any listed time period, and members of the Merchant Marines during WWII may be eligible subject to the date restrictions given below the table.

There can be some confusion with membership because of the structure of the Legion year.  Membership runs on a calendar year, from Jan 1st to December 31st.

Your subscription to the American Legion Magazine, meanwhile, will be for one year from the date you paid your Dues. (eg. If you join the Legion April 1st, your membership will be in the current year and expire on midnight of December 31st, but you will recieve your magazine from April through the next March.)

The American Legion membership drive, however, begins in July of every year, for the following year's dues. National Headquarters will begin sending out renewal notices at this time. (To continue with the prior example, even though you signed up for membership in April, and your membership is still good through the end of December, you will still receive a notice sometime in July or August asking you to renew your membership.) The notices have to start this early because National needs time to get all 1.5 Million notices printed and in the mail, but you do not need to renew you dues until Dec (the Post, however, does have an "Early Bird Dinner" for all members who have paid their next year's dues prior to Nov 10th).

This issue is normally only a concern in the first year of membership, but it can be an annoyance when first joining the organization, and it is worth noting.