Earning the Status of “Veteran”
By Debbie Gregory.
On November 10th, the Senate passed the Century Veterans Benefits Delivery Act (S 1203), a bill to grant “honorary” veteran status to as many as 200,000 Reserve and National Guard retirees. Although they signed up to serve, these brave individuals have never been deemed veterans because they did not serve a qualifying period of active service under federal orders.
On November 16th the House passed the Honor America’s Guard-Reserve Retirees Act (HR 1384), a standalone bill from Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.) which echoed the sentiments of the Senate bill.
Both the Senate-approved language and the House bill bestow veterans’ status on as many as 200,000 retirees. It will not, however, expand their benefits beyond what federal law now allows.
Impacted retirees are those who left service without a DD-214 or Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. Though they had 20 or more “good” years of drill points earned on weekends and through annual training, they were never called to active duty. Many of these retirees, as well as most civilians, are surprised to learn they aren’t legally veteran.
The bills will only bestow the right to be called a veteran, but it will have a few caveats. The bill recognizes the retirees as vets to honor their service but will not extend the same benefits as active duty and other veterans. They will receive the treatment from the VA that qualified vets receive. They may get a VA home loan.
David L. McLenachen, Director of the Pension and Fiduciary Service, Department of Veteran’s Affairs said, the VA opposes extending “veteran status to those who never performed active military, naval or air service, the very circumstance [that] qualifies an individual as a veteran.”
Shouldn’t all Guard and Reservists be recognized as veterans, given that they signed on and served their country in the capacity that they were ordered to?
Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, and their families.
Since the term ‘Veteran’ no longer means that a person is a combat veteran, there is no reason to require that a person be on active duty for 2 years to be one. Because military service has been voluntary for over 40 years, we should not discriminate against reservists or guardsmen who may be activated and sent to a foreign country to fight in an unpopular war for an unknown amount of time. Since 9/11, reservists and guardsmen have been activated at approximately the same rate as active duty persons. There is no longer the presumption that only active duty personnel will be sent to war. So, active duty should no longer used to distinguish between certain military members and those of the reserve and guard. Therefore, all members of the military should be given the honor of the term veteran when they complete their service. x
I don’t understand our status. I am a 36 year ARNG retiree but was never called to active duty. Can I now consider myself a veteran? If so what change in value did I inherit? I already have all the privileges of an active duty retiree except the title of “veteran”. This is all very confusing.
Wayne J Spaulding
BG ARNG (Ret.)
As a combat wounded vet, most of the people in this group signed up to avoid the Vietnam draft, not to serve their country. Anyway, if they didn’t do what would make them a vet such as serve on active duty then they don’t deserve veterans status. Doing this is an insult to the real veterans.