What Is the Difference Between the VFW and the American Legion?

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The Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion are both support organizations for war veterans that were established after the United States Military got involved in foreign wars abroad. These groups are much more alike than different, but they do differ in their eligibility requirements.

The VFW accepts memberships from all current and former military veterans who have received a campaign medal for their service overseas. They must have served at least 30 consecutive days or 60 nonconsecutive days in Korea, or they must be veterans who have received imminent danger or hostile fire pay at any time.

The American Legion extends eligibility to active duty or honorably discharged soldiers who have served in any of seven eligible war eras, beginning with World War I. Reservists and National Guard members are eligible as well.

Both of these groups are active on the local and national levels, and they actively lobby to influence legislation for the betterment of veterans. The VFW was instrumental in the establishment of the Veterans Administration and advocated strongly for compensation for military members who suffered war-related disabilities and illnesses. The American Legion is also a vocal lobbyist, championing the rights and benefits of veterans in the legislature. Veterans are welcome to join both organizations.