THE HISTORY OF AMVETS
AMVETS was founded August 1943 in the midst of WWII with victory still two years away. The new Veteran organization, later to be known Americans of World War II, had its beginning. Formed in Washington D.C., two independent clubs, one on the campus of George Washington University, the other a group of Veterans employed by the government, joined together to sponsor a serviceman's party. By September 1944, other such veterans clubs organized in California, Florida, Louisiana, New York, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas and Tennessee.
In December of 1944 leaders of these groups met in Kansas City, Missouri to link their service clubs under one national organization. The word AMVETS was later coined by newspaper headline writers, and soon became the organization’s official name.
In October 1945, two months after the end of WWII, the first national convention was held in Chicago. In 1946, AMVETS petitioned Congress for a federal charter. On July 23, 1947, President Harry S. Truman signed the AMVETS charter.
When war broke out in Korea and later in Vietnam, AMVETS requested that Congress to amend the charter to allow the new veterans to become members. On September 14, 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a bill redefining the eligibility dates for AMVETS membership, stating "Any person who served in the Armed Forces of the United States of America, or any American citizen, who served in the armed forces of an allied nation of the United States at any time after September 16, 1940, and on or before the date of cessation of hostilities as determined by the government of the United States is eligible for regular membership in AMVETS, provided such service when terminated by discharge or release from active duty be by honorable discharge or separation." On May 7, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Proclamation 4373, terminating the Vietnam War era and announcing the cessation of hostilities. Effective May 8, 1975, the United States Armed Forces became a peacetime service.
For almost 10 years AMVETS did not accept serviceman and women who served after May 15, 1975 into membership. On May 31, 1984 President Ronald Reagan signed Public Law 98304 which amended the AMVETS congressional charter to open membership to all members of the military who served honorably and actively after May 15, 1975. AMVETS is now the only congressionally chartered Veterans organization that recognizes the sacrifices of those Veterans and service personnel by extending membership eligibility.
At the AMVETS National 46th and 47th conventions, all National Guard and Reserve forces were recognized for membership since WWII. And at the AMVETS 49th National convention, Merchant Marines from either the Navy or the Coast Guard and who eligible for Veterans Affairs benefits, are eligible for AMVETS membership.
Today, Team AMVETS™ Department of California and the Service Foundation lead the way assisting the over two million brave men and women Veterans and their families of our great state. Team AMVETS™ Department of California Service Foundation is "Committed to Serve...Those Who Served"® through numerous supportive programs....our heroes deserve "NOTHING LESS!"