The American Legion was chartered by Congress in 1919 as a partriotic veterans orginization. Focusing on service to veterans, servicemembers and communities, the Legion evolved from a group of war-weary veterans of World War I into one of the most influential nonprofit groups in the United States. Membership swiftly grew to over 1 million, and local posts sprang up across the country. Today membership stands at over 2.4 million in 14,000 posts worldwide. There are 55 departments: one for each of the 50 states, along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, France, Mexico and the Philippines.