Period of conflict rule keeps non-conflict veterans out of Ameri - WNEM TV 5

Period of conflict rule keeps non-conflict veterans out of American Legion

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George Rathfon served in the U.S. Navy from 1976 to 1980.

He aided in rescue missions overseas after the Vietnam War.

“The last thing we did was the Iranian hostage mission. Our helicopters were used in that mission and I was on the set up crew ready for that,” Rathfon said.

When he finished his service and returned to the United States, he wanted to join his fellow veterans in the American Legion.

But they told him no.

“I just thought that they were missing out on a lot of good people,” Rathfon said.

Rathfon was told the American Legion only accepts veterans who served at least one day in a time of war, and he did not.

When Rick Maygar found out his friend couldn't join the legion, Maygar actually quit himself.

“They deserve, they put in their time. And when they enlisted into the service, there could have been a conflict coming up the next day,” Maygar said. “The reason we didn't probably have a conflict was because people like him were serving.”

Eventually Rathfon convinced him to rejoin, and together they've been challenging the legion's rule.

“I think it's important. I've been trying for a long time, so if I didn't think that I would have quit talking about it a long time ago,” Rathfon said.

TV5 called the national American Legion, and they stood by the period of conflict rule. They said it's just what congress ruled in 1919 when they formed the legion.

But for these two friends, they wish the group could be more inclusive to all who served for America.

“This is 2015. The American Legion was put together in 1919. Come to the 21st century. Let everybody join,” Magyar said.

Rathfon said, “I like doing things for other people, and the legion does that thing. And that's where I was going to spend my time, but that didn't get fulfilled.”

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