Thursday, November 12, 2009

Veterans Day for all 'Veterans'

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.

Use the “Write to Congress” function on ROA’s Web site to tell your Senator to cosponsor this bill.


Col. Leo H Fox said...

Dear Mr. Small. On behalf of literally thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of us who have served for decades in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corp, National Guard and Coast Guard reserves, who through no fault of our own have not been called to extended active duty,I thank you and the Reserve Officers Association for your initiative, support and efforts at having our service recognized for purposes of being classified and legally recognized as veterans. I have long been of the belief that any American who wears the military uniform, regardless of their term or branch of service and who successfully completes their service receiving an honorable discharge there from, should be officially recognized as a militray veteran. The extent to which veterans benefits are provided should not be a determinate as to what type of service must be performed for one to be recognized as a Veteran.

Personally, I served in the active reserves for over thirty-seven years, (Air National Guard, 28 years and AF reserves, 9+ years)and although I have spent well over 180 days of active duty, the service has never recognized as such since I was serving on a temporary basis rather than for an extended period of time. My temporary active duty was for attendance at basic training, technical school, special military courses and in support of commands to which I was assigned including the Rhode Island Air National Guard, the Defense Logistics Agency and the Navy War College.

For my service, I have received numerous military awards and decorations including the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal, two meritorious unit commendations, the National Defense Service Medal and the Humanitarian Service Medal as well as longevity service medals. Upon completion of my years of active reserve military service, I was officially ordered to the Retired Air Force, I was not discharged. For my service I receive a military pension and other benefits for which I, and my wife, will be eternally grateful. None the less, after all my service, I have long been very destressed at not being considered or able to say to others that I am military veteran. It makes me feel that I spent all that time for nothing. The most I ever wanted was to be a member of the military establishment and be recognized as such upon retirement. But the most important recognization has been denied me. I pray that the ROA and Congress will correct that transgression.

Thank you,

Leo H. Fox, Col. USAF (Ret)

Col Leo H. Fox said...

I should have used spell check before sending the comments.

Col Fox

ReserveOfficer said...

Col Fox, thank you for your support and for your service. David Small