Veteran Status Debate

By 119 Comments 3,287 views

UPDATE: Welcome Michael Yon sycophants! So much for moving on, huh? Kind of weird digging into posts a year old.

I originally wrote this for my blog, but then decided that perhaps it's information that I can better encourage debate on here.

Yesterday, the local morning conservative talk show host brought up a question about the status of veterans. He said that words mean things and he's right. The issue was the Stolen Valor Act (which I disagree with, believe it or not) and whether veterans that never served in Vietnam, but served in the military during the Vietnam War, can be called “Vietnam Veterans.”

The host was trying to make the case that if someone serves in the military during a time of war, there is nothing wrong with calling themselves a “[insert campaign/war name] Veteran.” I wholeheartedly disagree. I see his point of view, but military personnel don't think this way.

For example, I was in the Army during Kosovo, Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Iraq, but I'm only an Iraq Veteran. I never served in those other conflicts (well, I head to Afghanistan in a few weeks) and would NEVER call myself a Kosovo Veteran or a Bosnia Veteran. I would never call myself an Afghanistan Veteran before serving there!

The next point was that many veterans are beginning to use the term “Vietnam-Era or Desert Storm-Era Veteran.” I'm confused by this. My father served in the Navy (32 years before retiring) during the Vietnam War and has NEVER called himself a Vietnam-Era Veteran. He's a Veteran!

The status of “Veteran” is already – or should already be – an honorable title. I don't understand why some veterans seem to want to inflate their status by saying that they served during a particular war. The way I see it is that these people aren't satisfied with their service and are trying to puff themselves up.

For the veterans out there, this is what I'd like to know. I think it confuses civilians who have no clue about military service. They hear Vietnam Veteran or Iraq Veteran and the assumption is that this Soldier or Marine or whatever served IN combat!

The host thinks it's okay for veterans to just call themselves veterans of a particular war just by virtue of serving during a time of conflict. Now, I can see his point. To some degree, everyone that serves in the military during wartime is to some degree helping the effort. We still have a stateside mission of training and equipping forward deployed units, but it's a completely different job entirely. You can't be a veteran of war when you've never been in potential life-threatening danger. And I think that just the act of serving in and of itself is an honorable endeavor worthy of respect from Americans whether that honorable service lasted a month or 32 years!!

Not everyone gets to serve in combat. Sometimes it's by choice and sometimes it's just the cards that are dealt. Just ask my wife how frustrated I've been that I haven't deployed since I returned from the Iraq War in late 2003! While others have 3, 4, and 5 deployments, I've been resting on ONE! It drives me nuts, but I kept getting slotted in positions that weren't deployable.

When I got home from Iraq, I was PCS'd (moved for civilians out there) to Fort Irwin to head up the Task Force IED to train deploying troops on how to recognize, identify, and react to IEDs. The position was a non-deployable position that I was in for about two years. I was chosen for the position based on my experiences with them in Iraq. After that, I was transferred to a unit in D.C. with a very specialized mission. I did have a chance to deploy to an interrogation billet, but that jackwagon John McCain ruined my deployment when he made changes to the definition of an “interrogator” and I was immediately considered “unqualified” despite my extensive training and experience. This, of course, was a response to the Abu Ghraib situation and qualified interrogators must have gone through the military interrogation school. I went through a defense-contracted interrogation course that basically taught the same thing, but wasn't good enough even though I was a highly successful interrogator in Iraq, capturing 8 of the top 55 in the deck of cards! After that assignment, I was assigned as a First Sergeant at a strategic unit in Huntsville, AL – another non-deployable slot.

So, I couldn't help it for the past six years. When it was time to move on, I ensured I would get deployed and chose a unit I knew was slated to head to Afghanistan. I want to do my part and I don't feel comfortable personally resting on my one deployment while so many others have sacrificed so much more.

There are instances where that happens, but the jobs that I filled during the past six years were just as important. It was a vital piece of the overall mission that SOMEONE has to do and there is nothing dishonorable or wrong with that. Why would any veteran want to call themselves a Vietnam Veteran, Desert Storm Veteran, Iraq Veteran, or Afghanistan Veteran when they didn't actually fight in those wars unless they were trying to mislead people? Why do some of our veterans feel the need to identify themselves as an “era” veteran? Have we really diminished the service of our great Americans that much that the mere act of serving and being a “Veteran” is no longer enough?

I don't think so.

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119 Responses to “Veteran Status Debate”

  1. 101

    Joe

    @Aaln: Hi, Aaln- Do you know there’s hats available online that you can wear with the word “Vietnam Era Veteran”?
    By the way, you are not misrepresenting yourself as define by the VA. A “Vietnam Veteran” it’s define on the word itself, anyone can tell this difference. I consider myself a “Vietnam Era Veteran” and proud of it! To all “Viet Nam Era Veterans” don’t let these in-country Nam vet’s fool you. it sounded like to me, all they wanted is to take all the credit’s for themself.
    Thank you for your service!

  2. 105

    Joe

    This week I am getting my new” Vietnam Era Veteran During Conflict” plates, a tee shirt that said “Vietnam Era Veteran” and a hat that said “Vietnam Era Veteran” Previously I have “Honorable Discharge” plates in my car, but I like the new Vietnam plates better…To all Veterans of Vietnam Era feel proud of your service no matter where you served in-country or anywhere in the world…welcome home! and thank you for your service.

  3. 107

    Joe

    Now, I feel connected to Vietnam more than ever. By the way, I will never pretend to be a Vietnam Veteran. Iam Just proud to be a ‘Vietnam Era Veteran also a 3 year active member of The American Legion. post #0888 ( Every since I was a little boy ) I always wanted to be a Vietnam Veteran.

  4. 108

    ilovebeeswarzone

    Joe
    yes and AMERICA is proud of having you and all the VIETNAM VETS, come back to tell the real story of that WAR,
    many where killed and where torture, we must think of them with prayers also,
    which you all gave so much with courage to go beyond your limits humanly possible,
    this is an fact for the CITIZENS be unable to understand if they never fought in there,
    best to you. and all the VETS, we respect them all, for fighting for AMERICA to stay free,

  5. 110

    Rick

    My name is rick and at 19 years old, in 1969, I reported to Fort Bragg, NC on new years eve for basic training, right alongside guys in the 82nd airborne…AIT was in Fort Belvoir, VA…I was a construction draftsman, mos 81B20…after all of this I was not called up to go to Vietnam; instead, because I was a sign painter, I hand lettered stars and numbers on all sizes of military vehicles, from jeeps to M-290 front end loaders…I was also my company captains Jeep driver…I served from 1969 to 1975, and I am proud of it, it made a man out of me and taught me to be respectful of others…for all of the above reasons, I do call myself a “Vietnam Era Veteran”, I am now 62 and I can’t tell you how many times over the years that when asked by people about my military sevice for those years, they immediatly think you were in Vietnam and want to ask about it, so of course I put them straight…but I have decided to wear Vietnam Era t-shirts and patches, because as I said before, I served my country during that era and I’m proud of it…I hope this helps you Vietnam combat veterans understand this position a little better…PS- I have 2 close friends who DID serve in combat in Vietnam(I had a 3rd, but he died last year from tumors from agent orange) and they have NO PROBLEM with me wearing Vietnam Era Veteran stuff!!!

  6. 111

    ilovebeeswarzone

    Rick
    yes you served and what you did was helpful for your COUNTRY,
    and let no one forget it,
    thank you for coming and give your opinion here at FLOPPING ACES
    it’s well received, we admire the VETERANS for their contribution
    to AMERICA the BEAUTIFUL because of all the braves like you.

  7. 112

    Aaln

    Rick, I think that the issue is specifically that you have to specify “era” when you wear your gear in order for in-country vets to accept you. Supposedly in previous conflicts, everyone who served during the conflict was accepted as a veteran of that conflict regardless of where they served. With Vietnam, those who served during that era
    but did not receive the service medal are, in some cases, resented or treated poorly by those who did receive the service medal. I’ve even been told that guys who served aboard ships in direct support of operations and who received the service medal are resented by some of the in-country guys. It’s kinda like they think we’re trying to steal their glory or are trying to make ourselves into something that we’re not if we don’t specify the word “era”
    In any event, thank you for your service.

  8. 113

    ilovebeeswarzone

    Aaln
    hi,
    I think I get it, what they have in mind to be in a special group,
    and stick to it even by lowering the other who where of services too, but not in the front line,
    IT’s MOST PROBABLY THEY HAVE SUFFER SO MUCH, they have also seen their buddy die
    right in front of them, so they fixate on being the special unit,
    we have to forget their insisting to be special, because of that enduring times sounded like a thousands years, and we cannot understand the magnitude of their times in hell,
    so they feel they earned it, and they are right too.
    don’t forget they where critisize by the citizens listening to the idiocies of the many JANE FONDA all of them,
    they have carry on their shoulders the HURT AND THE SHAME FOR WHAT THEY ACCUSED THEM,
    they took it personal although they where the ones dying in the front line,
    they came back and face the resentment of their COUNTRY, that was hard to bare wasn’ t it,
    so they dam sure feel now to use their right from the CONSTITUTION AMENDMENTS to speak
    and demand special statues for having been there in front lines of fire.
    and they are right to feel special because they are, we must let them be what they feel in their guts
    and thank them again and again. they have been wounded in their spirits from THE CITIZENS of AMERICA, they did not yet receive the APOLOGY required from the CIVILIANS,
    we need to understand the deep wounds which will never heal,
    the special letters is for them alone we must give it with a thank you,
    which is so little compare to what they went through,
    I have looked in the war VIDEOS of VIETNAM, and I was looking in their eyes looking at the camera,
    and I felt the special human they are, so
    what ever they want, give it to them, they deserve it, it’s their most special ultimate posession,
    let them express their inner thoughts, let us listen carefully to what they have to say,
    it is important to know and understand. without wanting the same special treatments,

  9. 114

    Aaln

    Hell, I don’t want the same special treatment that these guys and girls deserve, but I also don’t want them disrespecting those of who served at the same time but were lucky enough to have done so outside of the war zone. I honor and respect their service and only ask that they do the same for mine.

  10. 115

    Joe

    I agree with Aaln , all we want is for them to stop putting us down” Era Vet’s” Just because we din’t serve in country, Regarless! and beside the point, they are called “Vietnam combat Veterans” what else do they want? we are not traying to steal their glory. we just wanted to be as proud as anybody else.And for them to know that no matter where we served in the world, we were all together in that conflict. I am just happy with the name Vietnam-Era Veteran and I really don’t care much about The status Vietnam Vet. I know what i am acordding to the congress.

  11. 116

    ilovebeeswarzone

    Aaln Joe
    this is not a ping pong game, you are bigger than that,
    just the service you gave them and they needed your help,
    they know it too, just don’t play the back and forth ping pong game with them,
    think they are a reason to be moody and need to express it, some will never do it they left
    and never returned, so you don’t need to engage in a conversation which you know will hurt
    one of you.
    hell you are veteran of the same war, can’t you understand your brothers in arms?

  12. 117

    frank tortorici

    @Joe: My Air Force career was from 10-67 to 10-77 – I was active duty during the Vietnam War – but was never actually in Vietnam. Nevertheless, I loaded B-52’s with 750 lb and 500 lb bombs at Anderson AB, Guam during operation Bulletshot/Archlight in 12-72. I fully believe I should have no reason NOT to be able to call myself a Vietnam Veteram – BUT I don’t – I use the term Vietnam Era Veteran out of respect to all those guys in country at that time. However – I have a better solution to this dilema to all my brother/sister veterans from that era who never served in country – let’s call ourselves ‘Vietnam War Veteran’ – I think that sums it up best and is totally accurate. My thoughts

  13. 118

    ilovebeeswarzone

    you know, you are all precious to AMERICA, THE GIANTS WHO WHERE AT THE POST ,
    AND THERE WAS MANY POSTS TO FILL.
    THE LADDER HAD TO HAVE ALL THE STAIRS FILLED , FROM THE BOTTOM UP,
    NOT FROM THE TOP DOWN,
    YOU ALL SWEAT THE SAME SALTED LIQUID, AND YOU ALL DID A JOB,
    IF YOU GO BACK TO THE WW ll WAR, HOW ABOUT THE WOMAN WHO FOR SOME EXPLODED WORKING IN BIG FACTORY, MAKING BOMB AND WEAPONS AND WHAT EVER DANGEROUS WAR THINGS,
    THEY NEVER HAD A SPECIAL NAME AFTER THE WAR, THOSE WHO WHERE IN OFFICE DEALING WITH PAPERWORK WHERE AS IMPORTANT AS THE OTHER ON PRODUCTION TABLES,
    YOU NEVER EVEN HEAR OF THEM,
    SO IT MIGHT MAKE YOU ALL ON BOTH SIDE REFLEX OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THOUGHT ,
    THAT IS, YOU NEEDED BROTHERS AND SISTER TO SUPPLY YOU, AND DO NOT MAKE THE MISTAKE TO OVERLOOK THEIR ADMIRATION AND TEARS WHEN THEY PICKED UP THE DEAD IN MANY PARTS
    TO BRING THEM IN THAT BOX BACK IN AMERICA,

  14. 119

    Redteam

    I just saw this subject and just have to comment. First, I’m a US Navy veteran. I did not ‘fight’ in any war. I served in 1957-61. On an aircraft carrier. I joined the Navy because all the girls loved Navy uniforms. In other words, so I could be a lover, not a fighter. I am honored to have been allowed to serve the United States of America in the US Navy. I enjoyed my experiences and got some excellent training. But about the subject at hand, who is a ‘veteran’ vs an ‘era’ veteran? I wonder if Douglas MacArthur would be considered a WWII veteran? He was actually in a combat zone very little or not at all. The same might be said about Dwight Eisenhower. I know that when young men started being drafted heavily in the 1960’s they ‘thought they were being drafted for the Viet Nam War’. Maybe they didn’t end up in Viet Nam but they sure could have. I’m not a combat veteran, but I see no distinction, if you were in the US Military during WWII, you are a WWII vet. Ditto the other wars also. Anyone that feels as if they are a Viet Nam vet, is one, in my opinion. I was eligible for all the Veterans benefits that most vets were, the GI Bill, VA loans, etc. I can be admitted to a VA Hospital if I have no other medical coverage, which I do, Medicare. I am entitled to a Veterans Headstone for my grave. No one that volunteered for military service, or were drafted, should be belittled for the ‘nature’ of their service. I don’t see how serving off the coast of a country that you are at war with, launching aircraft to bomb that country is any less important than any other military function in the conduct of that war. And, it is certainly possible that a bomb could be dropped on that aircraft carrier that would kill many persons. I wonder if the sailors that are still in the USS Arizona are considered as veterans of WWII? Thanks to everyone that have served in any US military service.