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The American Legion is the largest veterans’ organization in the United States, with a 2009 membership of about 2.4 million members organized in 14,000 posts in 51 U.S. departments and 4 outside the United States. This entry describes the history of the American Legion and its advocacy efforts on behalf of veterans and their families.

Founded in 1919 by and for the veterans of World War I, the American Legion has gradually extended its eligibility criteria to cover honorably discharged veterans who served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam and interventions in Grenada, Lebanon, and Panama, and to active-duty personnel or those honorably discharged since the beginning of the Persian Gulf War in 1990. Since its inception, the legion has emphasized veterans’ affairs, a strong ...

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