By Kimberly Wallis

Becoming a member of the American Legion not only helps you make a difference in your community, but your membership dues help both active duty and retired US service members all over the world. Not to mention, you get a wide variety of discounts including necessities (like insurance, medical, or home services) but also on amenities (such as vacation and travel or cell service). The best answer is one you won’t find in any of their brochures though – the camaraderie! Steve Hinkle, 2nd Vice President of Leesville’s American Legion Post 145, says “the best thing is you can always get something good to eat with the potluck meals around here.”

You must be a veteran to be a member of the American Legion. However, your spouse, parents, children, and grandchildren may join the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary or Sons of The American Legion. Plus, the American Legion Riders accept members from all of these groups.

American Legion plaque at the entrance to Post 145 in Leesville

Keeping up to date on Congressional actions and lobbying for causes that directly impact veterans, such as TriCare and VA funding, reversing veteran homelessness, and improving quality of life for military families allows the American Legion to help those who previously served, as well as active duty members and their families. You can keep up with them, and current issues they’re supporting, on social media through Facebook or Twitter.

Service officers provide no-cost assistance with corrections to military records or VA claims. In addition to these services, you may also get information, resources, and referrals about a variety of other topics, such as employment, education, or death benefits.

Working with the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) enables the American Legion to provide career guidance for understanding the federal contracting process, allows for placement of veterans into job-training programs, and provides support for veteran career events. This helps thousands of veterans land jobs every year!

The American Legion strongly promotes educational opportunities.They established American Legion Legacy Scholarships to ensure military children who lost an active duty parent have funding for college. A scholarship is made available for Eagle Scout of the Year. They fund and host competitions for the American Legion High School Oratorical Scholarship Program. In addition to that, many other scholarships and education programs are offered at the national, state, and local levels. When my mother was in nursing school, she was an American Legion scholarship recipient twice, both years locally, through Leesville’s American Legion Post 145!

The American Legion supports an array of well-rounded programs for children. Posts nationwide sponsor Boy Scout units and support JROTC/ROTC units. The American Legion Boys State/Nation and the Ladies Auxiliary Girls State/Nation pairs young people with top officials to learn how the government works. American Legion youth teams compete for a chance to participate in the National Junior Shooting Sports championships held yearly at the US Olympic Training Center.

Legionnaires donate millions of hours of service every year! Mostly through VA Volunteer Services, but American Legion posts have many other ways of enhancing communities. Some examples include adopting military units, buying phone cards for use in combat zones, delivering care packages, welcoming home troops, arranging holiday transportation for soldiers, adopt-a-senior motorcycle rides, and conducting blood drive competitions between one another. Many sponsor benefits and fundraisers for those in need locally, as well as for causes such as wounded warriors or disaster preparedness and recovery. Plus, Family Support Network volunteers offer personal help such as yard work, car repairs, or child care if an active duty member has a family struggling at home. Our troops protect America, so it’s up to us to take care of them and their families! 

The American Legion, as the most powerful veteran’s organization, is able to make an impact at national, state, and local levels thanks to the time and effort put in by over 2 million members, who have already joined together across the nation as Legionnaires!