Membership and Eligibility FAQs
To be eligible for membership in The American Legion, you need to have been assigned to at least one day of federal active duty service any time during the eligibility periods as determined by U.S. Government, and received an honorable discharge/discharge under honorable conditions or currently serving in one of the U.S. Armed Forces. Are you eligible? Here are a few frequently asked questions regarding American Legion eligibility. For any other eligibility questions, feel free to contact National Headquarters us at email@example.com or 317-630-1321.
I’m currently on Active Duty. Am I eligible?
Yes. The current eligibility period from is from August, 1990 to present, and includes the current war campaigns. All current active duty military are eligible for membership at a discounted annual membership rate.
I didn’t retire from the military, but was on active duty during one of the qualifying time periods. Am I eligible?
Yes. As long as you have served at least one day of federal active duty during any of the qualifying periods, you are eligible for membership.
I served during one of the qualifying periods, but was never in a combat zone. Am I eligible?
Yes. Location of active duty service is not a consideration for membership.
I am currently in the National Guard / Reserve. My unit was activated under Title 10 orders during a qualifying time period. Am I eligible?
Yes. Title 10 orders are issued by the Secretary of Defense and therefore are federal orders.
My National Guard unit was activated for crowd control under Title 32 orders during one of the qualifying periods. Am I eligible?
No. Title 32 orders are issued under a governor's authority, whereas Title 10 orders are issued from the Secretary of Defense.
I am currently a cadet at one of the U.S. Military, Naval, Air Force or Coast Guard Academies. Am I eligible?
Yes. The American Legion has considered service in the military academies as eligible for membership since WWI.
Can I be an honorary or social member of The American Legion?
No. Per National Constitution and By-laws, no form or class of membership is authorized except regular active or paid up for life.
I served my entire military career in the National Guard / Reserves, and only have a DD-214 from my Active Duty for Training that I was in during one of the qualifying dates. Am I eligible?
Yes. In the mid-1960’s, all basic training and occupational training schools were considered federal active duty service.
I served active duty as a SPAR, WAC, WASP, or WAVES during the one of the qualifying periods. Am I eligible?
Yes. Even though women served separately than men, their service is equal.
I served with allied military forces during one of the qualifying periods. Am I eligible?
Yes, only if you were a U.S. citizen at the time of entry.
I served with the Civil Air Patrol / Civilian Technical Corps / USPHS as a civilian during two qualifying periods. Am I eligible?
No. Eligible members must have federal military service during a qualifying period and received an honorable discharge or discharge under honorable conditions.
I enlisted and went to basic training, but received an uncharacterized discharge due to a medical condition. Am I eligible?
Yes. Uncharacterized discharges are assumed to be under honorable conditions unless specifically stated otherwise.
I am eligible for The American Legion, but do not have a copy of my DD-214 to show as proof of eligibility. How can I get one?
You can go to www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records to request another copy of your discharge papers. A copy of orders putting you on federal active duty can be used as proof of eligibility as well.
I know I need my 9-digit Member ID number to take advantage of member benefits or to access some of the on-line features. If I don't know my number, where can I find it?
Once you join The American Legion, you're assigned a permanent 9-digit Member ID number that will remain yours as long as you're a member. (If you ever transfer to another post, always make sure to provide your original Member ID Number). You'll find the ID number on your membership card and it's also the first 9 digits shown above your name on our magazine labels. (It always starts with a 1 or 2.)
Can I submit an address change online?
Yes, you can change most of your record information, including your address, on our website at www.legion.org. Select the MEMBERS option from the menu bar then, under Quick Links, select Manage Your Membership to access a domestic address change form. Or go directly to the form at www.legion.org/membershipmanagement. We can also take your address change over the phone at 1-800-433-3318 one of our Customer Service Agents will be happy to help you. (Normal business hours are Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EST) Members who are moving to a foreign address should submit their address changes via email to firstname.lastname@example.org and include their name, Member ID number, current address and new address.
By the way, you can also set-up a myLegion account and manage your membership information anytime. The myLegion site allows members to see their information on file at National Headquarters, view messages and events published through the department and post myLegion sites, and even network with other myLegion members using networking tools. Go to legion.org and look for the myLegion.org link to get started.
I submitted an address change a month ago but my latest issue of the magazine went to the old address. What happened?
Although address changes are immediate when your record is updated, the preparation for mailing each issue of the magazine actually begins about 6 weeks in advance of the mailing. This is simply because of the time it takes to prepare a mailing so large. So for example, if you're moving to your new address effective July 1st, you would need to notify National Headquarters in early May in time for the July issue to be sent to the new address. If you can't let us know that far in advance, and assuming that you've notified them, the USPS will forward your magazines until the address change catches up with the magazine production.
I belong to a local post and renewed my membership on-line. When will I get my membership card?
Thanks for taking advantage of the on-line renewal option! You should have received and, hopefully, printed the acknowledgment form showing your new membership card since it will serve as confirmation that your dues are paid. National Headquarters usually updates its records within 24-48 hours to reflect the dues payment. Your Department Headquarters is also notified and your Post Adjutant receives notification through the Post Officers version of the myLegion website. Your pre-printed annual membership card is at your Post and it should be forwarded to you after they review the notification of your renewal. If you don't receive it in a timely manner, contact your Post Adjutant for assistance.
I received a membership invitation in the mail and it says I can also join online at a special website shown on the application. If I join online, will I still get my membership card and the free gift mentioned in the letter?
Yes, you’ll get your membership card and any free gifts mentioned in the letter, as long as you apply from that special website. You should receive your new member packet, including your membership card and free gift, approximately 4-6 weeks after you submit your application. However, if you decide to go ahead and mail your application to us, it would take about 4-6 weeks after we receive your application at National Headquarters. (Applies only to new members who join through National.)
If I join online or submit a membership application to National Headquarters, will I belong to a local Post?
When you first join The American Legion, through National Headquarters, your membership will be assigned to the Department (State) Headquarters Post in the state where you live. The HQ Posts are basically administrative posts only and there are no meetings or activities, although you’re entitled to the same membership benefits as anyone else, and can visit the local posts as a guest. Of course, you can choose to remain in the HQ Post but we recommend that you visit posts in your area and if you find one you like, you're free to apply for transfer (it’s easy) just talk to one of the officers to get it started). It’s a great way to get involved with your local community.
How do I transfer my membership to another Post?
The transfer process is really easy. All you need to do is call or visit the Post you're interested in joining and speak with an officer. Each Post has its own simple process; you'll need to provide your 9-digit Member ID Number and you should also be prepared to provide a copy of your DD-214 (or similar) to verify your eligibility. After acceptance of your membership, he / she will submit the necessary paperwork to notify the Department (State) and National Headquarters of your transfer.
Why doesn't my membership card reflect the total number of years I've been a member?
The annual card reflects your continuous years of membership. Continuous being the key word here. If you miss even a single year of paying dues, your continuous years start over at one. However, if you think there's a mistake, contact your Post Adjutant and if it's confirmed there is an error, he / she can submit a request to correct your record.
How much does it cost to rent a Post for a special event, like a birthday or reception?
You'll need to contact the Post you're interested in renting. Each Post runs its own business affairs, including whether or not the facilities can be rented, and National Headquarters isn't involved in any way. If you're looking for an American Legion Post in your area, you can visit (www.legion.org/posts) to use our post locator.
When does my membership expire?
Your membership actually expires on December 31st of the paid year shown on your card. It can be a little confusing sometimes because your annual dues are supposed to be paid by January 1st each year so National starts accepting dues for the upcoming year on July 1st. The goal is to have everyone renewed for the new year by January 1st, when it begins.
I paid my dues a while ago so why did I get another renewal notice?
Renewal notices are mailed from National Headquarters based the information on our records at the time the notices are printed. So, although you may have paid your dues a month ago, or even longer, the National portion of your dues may not have reached our offices yet. Briefly, when you pay your dues to the Post, they process your payment and keep a portion for the Post; the balance is sent to your Department Headquarters with your membership card; and finally, the Department deducts its portion of your dues and then forwards the remaining balance and your membership card to National. Once we receive your dues and card, we usually have renewals processed within 48 hours of receipt. (New memberships take a little longer since they have to be hand-processed.)
If you look at the bottom right-hand corner of the renewal notice, you'll see there is an “as of” date which tells you when the notice was printed. If you paid your dues sometime around that date, your dues and the renewal probably just crossed in the mail, and you shouldn't receive another one for that membership year. BUT, if you paid well in advance of that “as of” date, then you should contact your Post Adjutant to verify the status of your renewal payment.
Are there any death benefits available from The American Legion?
There are no death benefits simply by virtue of your membership, however, if a member passes away, the family should check to see if he / she held a life insurance policy with any of our benefit partners. (Since this is protected information, National Headquarters doesn't have this available on its records.) Family members can contact our insurance providers at the numbers listed below to see if the member had an active policy:
Additionally, some Departments (States) offer a free $1000 accidental death benefit with a paid membership, which is also separate from the National Organization. You would need to contact the member's Department Headquarters to inquire about a possible death benefit; you can find a listing of the Department offices on our website at www.legion.org/membershipmanagement.
By the way, you should also contact the Veterans Administration at 1-800-827-1000 to see if there would be a death benefit as a result of the veterans military service.
How can I get help with my VA claim?
The American Legion Department Service Officers are specially trained to provide information and assistance relating to the VA and other veteran's issues. You can call our Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Division in our DC office at 202-861-2700 or email them at VAR@legion.org. You can also find a listing of American Legion certified Service Officers on our web site at www.legion.org/serviceofficers. Or, if your cell phone service permits it, you can also download The American Legion Claims Coach, our mobile application; it contains information, directories and other valuable resources for veterans.
How can I find a local post?
It’s easy! Visit the National website at www.legion.org/posts to search for posts by city or zip code, using the post locator.
How much is a lifetime membership?
Our life membership program is called Paid-Up-For-Life (PUFL). To find out how much it would cost for you to become a PUFL member, visit www.legion.org/pufl to get a personalized quote. You can print an application to mail in, or just complete and submit your application online!
I never served in the military but can I still join?
I served on active duty but my dates of service don't appear on your membership application.
My family member served on active duty so can I join under his / her service?
The American Legion was chartered by Congress in 1919 as an organization for war time veterans. Membership is open only to men and women who served active duty in the US Armed Forces during specific periods designated as “war time” by the US Congress, and who have received an honorable discharge, or are still serving honorably. Eligible veterans would be able to provide a Form DD-214 (or similar) to verify their eligibility. If you don’t meet these requirements, then we're sorry, but you're not eligible for membership.
It’s possible that you may be able to join one of the other organizations in the “Legion Family”. The Sons of The American Legion (SAL) is comprised of male descendants, adopted sons and step-sons of American Legion members. (There are no age limitations.)
Our sister organization is the American Legion Auxiliary. Eligibility is open to mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, grand-daughters, great-grand-daughters, or grandmothers of members of The American Legion, or of deceased veterans who served in the United States Armed Forces during the listed war eras. (Women who are eligible for membership in The American Legion are also eligible to join the Auxiliary.)