The American Legion recently expanded their membership eligibility under a bill signed by President Donald Trump on July 30. The bill, known as the LEGION Act, declares the U.S. has been in a state of war since Dec. 7, 1941, honoring approximately 1,600 service members killed or wounded in undeclared periods of war. It also allows about 6 million veterans to become members of American Legion and its programs and benefits.
“We have one, maybe two people who have been to our meetings and they fell into that category,” said Alan Seigfreid, who serves as adjutant for the American Legion. “When we were first told about it, we were all in favor of changing that.”
Eligibility periods are now between April 6, 1917, to Nov. 11, 1968, and Dec. 7, 1941, continuing. The bill garnered bipartisan support, introduced in February by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, with Sen. Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina.
American Legion Commander Paul Kennedy said he’s excited to be able to expand membership opportunities. The Legion was inactive in Sidney for close to 10 years and it wasn’t until this past May the official meetings had enough members show up. The American Legion Post #12 in Sidney was resurrected this year and currently has 36 members.
“I look forward to leading Post #12 into greener pastures and bigger horizons,” Kennedy said. “I’m also looking forward to the restarting the American Legion Auxiliary, the Sons of the Legion and looking forward to starting the Legion Riders in Sidney.”
In addition, Kennedy said the American Legion is also responsible for highway fatality markers along the highway, the small white crosses people have become accustomed to.
“We would encourage anybody that falls into that category to come to one of meetings and see what we do,” Seigfreid said. “We’re just getting started again.”
The fee to join is $36 per year. Currently, membership applications are in the process of being updated, but can still be used. The organization is currently membership-focused as they get their footing back in Sidney.
“We are trying to get more members to the meetings,” Seigfreid said. “We are wanting to get involved again in the community. We want some participation and we think we can do some good.”
One focus moving forward will be the American Legion baseball program, which suffered this past year from low numbers.
“We are trying to make some arrangements. We want to help them and do what we can,” Seigfreid said.
“I look forward to seeing a whole new broad spectrum of veterans and people who served in our armed forces,” Kennedy said. “If they are interested they can come to our next meeting.”
To join American Legion Post #12, contact Seigfreid at 433-3010 or check out the group’s Facebook page @AmericanLegionPost12Montana. American Legion meets on the second Tuesday of each month and the Elks at 7 p.m.