Veterans Day: How Do You Define Who Is a Veteran?

Photo courtesy of the VA website.

Who are veterans? They are our next door neighbors, our co-workers, our family members.

An essay by a Navy veteran who saw no combat questioned if she should be considered a veteran in the same breath as a WWII seaman who served on a PT boat in the Pacific.

Alison Derr wrote:

There are very few words that catch me quite like “Veteran”. It’s such a short word, but in today’s world, it means so much and identifies a person in just seven letters.

So, we asked how you define who is a veteran. Here are a few of the responses:

From Motorcycle Enthusiast:

If you have a DD 214 you stepped up to the plate regardless of duty station or MOS.

From Lisa, Veteran U.S. Army:

General Douglas MacArthur gave his famous farewell speech to the cadets of West Point on May 12, 1962 where he spoke about “duty, honor, and country”. I believe his words speaks volumes of the word “Veteran”.

“And what sort of soldiers are those you are to lead?  Are they reliable? Are they brave? Are they capable of victory?  “Their story is known to all of you.  It is the story of the American man-at-arms.  My estimate of him and her (sic) was formed in the battlefields many, many years ago, and has never changed.  I regarded him (her) then, as I regard him now as one of the world’s noblest figures-not only as one of the finest military characters, but also as one of the most stainless.    “His name and fame are the birthright of every American citizen”.  In his youth and strength, his love and loyalty, he gave all that mortality can give.  He needs no eulogy from me, or from any other man.  He has written his own history and written it in red on his enemy’s breast”.

General Douglas MacArthur, May 12, 1962

The website – MilitaryAvenue.com – offers this definition:

A military veteran is:
  experienced in a trade
  trained and skilled in their job
  knowledgeable about being on time and on target
  salutes the flag with purpose
  wears or has worn a uniform
has sworn and taken an oath
has carried a weapon
has polished boots
  understands what ‘taps’ means
  comprehends an order
has awoken to reveille
  knows the chain of command
has spoken the language of acronyms
has longed for leave
  owns a set of dog tags
  has access to organizations like the VFW, American Legion, VA, MOAA, NCOA
  garners respect when speaking of service
  has protected the integrity of our constitution
has pledged allegiance to our flag, and meant it!

 Steven Vandervort writes what being a Veteran means to him:

Being a Veteran means finally getting to that all important retirement date and having saved vacation days for years to have a three-month transition time and you start applying for civilian/federal jobs only to find out that your skill set and/or background or the fact that you’re a veteran is preventing you from even landing any interviews.

You can read his full definition of what being a veteran means HERE on the VA blog, VAntage.

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4 Responses

  1. i too did not have real combat even though i received the combat action ribon i was on uss blue ridge we stened directly for this north viet nam island till they fired on us then the capt. said return fure and get the hekk out of hear

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  3. Anyone who puts on a uniform to serve our country, IS a Veteran.

    • From what I have experienced in life, it seems veteran original defined people who served time during war or combat. Whether sitting on your but in a comfy office or lying in dirt on the front line both came back as veterans. i agree they are both veterans of war, but…. only the person who has served on the lines earns my full respect and deserves the title Veteran. Now you/they all have my respect. Please never feel that I don’t. You/they always will. The people who serve on the lines, however, are truly experiencing the central focus of being a soldier, DEATH. Soldiers walk with death both dealing it and avoiding it. They do so to protect life. To protect the people. Not symbols, names or constructions that change with time. A true soldier does not complain about being poor, homeless, degraded, betrayed, scorned, disfigured, alone, or purposeless. They wait. They survive. Until they are needed again. Then no matter their condition. No matter their age. They rise again. They take up “arms” to protect life, because they must. It is their duty. Why? A life for life….. Theirs for ours. No question. No regret. Nothing from a walking corpse….. They know what they must do….. it is those soldier who have my full respect and truly deserve the title veteran, or maybe some other more fitting title? Sorry… the soldier concept is important to me. i guess my main point really is yes you/they may be a veteran of war but that does not make you/they are true soldiers showing traits burrowed deep with in many of our heroes and heroins. having the title but potentially none of the traits is saddening to me. I, however, am describing details of a world that does not exist right now. We need to support what we have right now though. All “Veteran” whether you agree with the definition or not. We need to care. we need to do because we care. Me must care otherwise nothing will change. it simply will not.

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