By David Small, ROA Director of Communications and Air Force Affairs
Yesterday was Veterans Day. A handful of members of the Reserve Officers Association were invited by Vice President and Dr. Biden to their home for lunch along with members of other Veterans Service Organizations. (They served an All American hamburger and hotdog meal).
The event also included Gen Shinseki, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and his key staff who were recognized for their improvements and plans to ensure Veterans are cared for after their service.
During Vice President Biden’s remarks, he said that among all the things the government does, America has only one solemn promise it must keep – and that is to care for Veterans and their families after they have given so much for this country. The remarks were incredibly touching in the shadow of the previous day’s memorial service at Fort Hood for the people who were shot in a random act of terror, the majority of whom were Army reservists.
On Facebook, a number of my friends thanked me for my service, while Krispy Kreme gave away a free donut to Veterans (among generous gestures from a slew of other businesses).
It is clear Americans value their veterans, but one thing gnawed on me throughout the day. Some people who wore the uniform for 20 years and retired are not considered veterans. Were they honored yesterday? Could they get a free donut?
Who are these people you ask… Citizen Warriors who volunteered to serve, but for whatever reason throughout their career were not called to Active Duty. They have a DD214. They wore the uniform proudly for their two week annual tours every year for 20 years. They were there and ready to be called upon. But in today’s bureaucratic dictionary, they cannot claim the label of Veteran, and they are denied access to some VA benefits.
I don’t think any American, nor would Krispy Kreme reject the idea that this group of people are veterans and should be thanked for their service, but why does our government make a distinction? I can’t answer that.
It is a problem that ROA is advocating to change. Fortunately there is a bill introduced by Sen. Blanche Lincoln from Arkansas that if passed may fix the disparity.
S.1780 is a bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to deem certain service in the reserve components as active service for purposes of laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. The bill is currently sitting in the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs.