Weekly Columns

The American Legion, the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization, is celebrating its centennial. For the past 100 years the American Legion has been a leading advocate for veterans and their families. The Legion has played a role in crafting legislation, shaping policies, expanding services and creating generations of civic-minded Americans.I’m proud to commemorate its century of service. 

Since its founding, Legionnaires have proudly worked to strengthen our country and our communities while upholding the promise our country made to those who have worn our nation’s uniform. 

The Legion has helped fight for the creation of the U.S. Veterans Bureau in 1924, the forerunner of the Veterans Administration. Decades later, the organization was active in elevating it to cabinet-level status as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

During WWII, the American Legion drafted legislation that would become the G.I. Bill. Legionnaires were instrumental in securing passage of this landmark legislation that helped returning troops further their education, buy houses and start businesses. It also established hiring privileges for veterans. 

The Legion continues its strong advocacy for improving these and other benefits. Its efforts were vital in the passage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the enhancement measure passed in 2017 which bears the name of former American Legion Commander Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act.  

I am optimistic about the progress we will make on issues important to the veterans community because of the excellent and active work of the American Legion Department of Arkansas, which has more than ten thousand members in nearly 150 posts throughout the state.

I had the opportunity recently to visit American Legion posts in Harrison, Batesville and Jasper and join Legionnaires in celebrating this anniversary. In recognition of its century of service, I presented these posts with a flag flown over the United States Capitol and a copy of the speech I delivered on the Senate floor to mark this occasion. I look forward to visiting other posts throughout the year to recognize Legionnaires for their dedication to improving the lives of veterans and their families and promoting American values and serving others. 

For 100 years, the American Legion has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of veterans and their families. In honor of the centennial, Congress approved minting commemorative coins to recognize this milestone. The coins went on sale earlier this month.  

Proceeds from the sales will help support veterans in need and support mentoring programs such as Boys and Girls State. This program has helped influence generations of leaders, myself included. 

As a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I have seen up close Legionnaires and the American Legion Auxiliary’s dedication and the results their efforts have produced in Arkansas and across our entire country.  

I’m proud to recognize the American Legion on its 100 years of advocacy and celebrate this century of service with the two million members who are making a difference each day as Legionnaires.