Tester, Heller seek to modernize American Legion for newest veterans

Membership dues could be paid electronically, instead of only by cash or check

(BIG SANDY, Mont.) – Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) teamed up today to modernize the way veterans can pay membership dues to the American Legion, Sons of the American Legion, and the American Legion Auxiliary.

The American Legion’s charter, which is approved by Congress, currently requires veterans to pay membership dues only by cash or check.  The Tester-Heller bill would allow the organization to accept debit and credit card payments online.  The Senators say the change will make it easier for newer generations of veterans to become members and pay dues.

“Veterans returning home should be able to easily access the support and services of the American Legion,” said Tester, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “This simple change will make it easier for more veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan to become members of the American Legion with the ease and convenience that today’s technology offers.”

“The American Legion has been a powerful and effective advocate for our nation’s veterans for many decades,” Heller said.  “Congress must make sure the Legion continues to have the flexibility it needs for years to come.  This legislation will help expand veterans’ access to the Legion’s many resources by allowing veterans to pay their dues online and protecting it from frivolous lawsuits.”

“The American Legion has been advocating for veterans for almost a century and one of the most important ways we do that is by connecting our members to the resources and support available,” said Merv Gunderson, National Vice Commander and a member of The American Legion Department of Montana. “As our nation’s largest veterans service organization, it is critical that we keep up with the times to help serve each new generation of veterans. I appreciate the leadership of Senators Tester and Heller in introducing this important legislation because it shows their determination to help the American Legion fulfill our vital mission.”

"This amendment to our organization's congressional charter would further clarify the autonomous, independent nature of our posts and departments across America," said Fang A. Wong, national commander of The American Legion. "This statute enacts what the courts have already said. To wit, no independent entity of The American Legion is responsible for the actions of another. We are grateful to Senators Tester and Heller for sponsoring this amendment to our national charter."

The American Legion was chartered in 1919.  In 2010, the National Convention of the American Legion adopted an amendment to allow for dues to be paid online with debit and credit cards but all changes to the Legion’s charter must be approved by Congress and signed into law by the President of the United States.

A copy of the bill is online HERE.  The House of Representatives is considering similar legislation.