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Who is a "veteran"?


stratasfan
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Don't know if any of you have seen the great new addition to Find A Grave . . . you can now designate a memorial as "Veteran" and that is searchable. Of course, like any other thing, it is only as good as the memorial owners marking the memorials "vet". But, it is grand when it is on there! 

 

Well, Sis sent in a lot of edits to designate Crimean War soldiers who fell at a particular battle. They were all declined this morning and the memorial owner states that a Veteran has to be discharged from service and that nobody who dies in military service is a "veteran". 

 

This got us on to looking for the reason behind that thought and it arrived to US "vets" or not. We are interested in other member's opinions here, as we started looking into what the classification of "Veteran" is, and there is a huge debate on the Find-A-Grave forum about this, too. 

 

 

Under Title 38 of the U.S. Code, a veteran is defined as a “person who served in the active military, naval, air, or space service, and who was discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable.” You have seen from the title 38 definition above that there is no minimum time of service required to be considered a “veteran” so long as you served on active duty. [from va.org]

 

Also, from reading the above, "Military" means only Army, Coast Guard and Marines, since they are not listed after like Navy, Air Force, and Space Force which are not military but other Armed Forces.

 

So . . . interested in any thoughts as to what others think a "Veteran" is and what about Army, USCG and USMC being "military while the others are not? This is all new to me, and I really am wondering about all this. 

 

What would you classify as service to entitle the use of "veteran"? What about KIA or DNB or DOW or MIA?

 

 

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5 minutes ago, triplecanopy said:

This photo pretty much says it all.

 

 

Not talking about holidays.   You don't designate a KIA person as a "Memorial". 

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triplecanopy

The point I was trying to make is about Veterans who served then hung up their uniform (were discharged) and actually lived for a while after service. KIA's, MIA's and those who Died of Wounds are certainly honored at Memorial Day, but would not be considered Veterans since they either died or went missing while in service.

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Interesting to hear  ...  What would you call a person who died in service?

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triplecanopy

If you mean like an accidental death ie: a parachute not opening, helicopter crash or vehicle accident?  The incident would be considered a training casualty. Also any death like that is investigated to determine if it occurred in the line of duty. The term Veteran according to the dictionary means a former member of the Armed Forces which implies discharge or retirement.

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11 minutes ago, stratasfan said:

Interesting to hear  ...  What would you call a person who died in service?

A Hero.

 

Bill

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24 minutes ago, USMCR79 said:

A Hero.

 

Bill

Then that means that you need a new word to replace hero; otherwise you don't recognize the difference in Audi Murphy and some trooper who dies in a training accident, or a car wreck. 

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24 minutes ago, SA1911A1 said:

Then that means that you need a new word to replace hero; otherwise you don't recognize the difference in Audi Murphy and some trooper who dies in a training accident, or a car wreck. 

Does it matter - Hero’s come in all forms - No need to over think this label 

 

Bill

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8 minutes ago, USMCR79 said:

Does it matter - Hero’s come in all forms - No need to over think this label 

 

Bill

 

No, I think that is a point. . . . However, the question is not what we think a hero is . . . 

 

If "Veteran" only applies to a person who was in the military and was blessed to have survived their time of enlistment to be discharged . . . what is a person in the military who gave the ultimate sacrifice termed? They are not a veteran? 

 

To add to my question - Here is the top part of the two versions of the PA Veteran's Compensation Form from post WWII (ran from 1950 - 1966):

 

Form No. 1-

 

image.png

 

 

Form No. 2 - 

image.png

image.png

 

 

 

Back then, dying in service made you a veteran. Now, it seems that has been lost. What would you term Mr. Colecchi now, since he is no longer a veteran? I can't seem to find anything that says what you should call a person who served in the armed forces and died in the service (whether training accident or on the battlefield . . . what are they when they don't survive their enlistment? 

 

(And I am totally not upset here, I'm really trying to find out what they are called! :) ) 

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RustyCanteen

The issue here is that an American interpretation of the term is being applied internationally. 'Veteran' does not mean the same thing across all cultures or languages. In some countries it is possible to serve honorably, and yet not be a veteran unless one experienced combat. In other countries a veteran is a designation for benefit-based purposes in an official document, but colloquially can be used to mean more or less than what the 'official' definition might be. 

In this case veteran as defined outside the US (in this specific case) is used to define the past tense of military service. So if the service member succumbed to disease (very common in the pre-20th Century) or combat, they did not live to be considered a 'veteran'. Again this is going to vary widely across continents, cultures, and even individual beliefs. While it may seem to be a clinical if unfair way to see things, we are used to a wider meaning of the term in the US. 

The history and etymology of 'veteran' is particularly interesting to research. There are some rabbit holes though, and we can see how the term has evolved in the US by simply examining the history of the VFW, and that organization's membership criteria over it's existence, in comparison to the AL or other veteran's organizations. 

 

RC


 

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@RustyCanteen - Yes . . . I know some other Countries don't actually use the term Veteran. However, here I'm just trying to work out the US meaning. US only, really. 

 

Using the example above, Mr. Colecchi was in the US armed forces.

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snake36bravo

Veteran is anyone who has served in the Armed Forces of the United States of America, was discharged, and is living. 

 

A casualty, someone who was killed in action or was killed in a training accident or you worded it, paid the ultimate sacrifice, is a causaulty. They are not a veteran of military service as they are dead. Meaning they did not survive their military service. The surviving members of their family typically recieve benefits.

 

A combat veteran used to be any member of the Armed Forces of the United States of America that was in direct action with the enemy for a period of 30 days or more in an area designated as a war zone. Areas of hazardous duty often do not fall into this category despite the fact they can involve direct action. Think Beirut, KFOR, or North Camp in Sinai that routinely took mortar and harrasment fire. That definition could have changed since I got out in 2001.

 

Good question for members who never served to understand the differences in terminology.

 

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7 minutes ago, snake36bravo said:

Veteran is anyone who has served in the Armed Forces of the United States of America, was discharged, and is living. 

 

A casualty, someone who was killed in action or was killed in a training accident or you worded it, paid the ultimate sacrifice, is a causaulty. They are not a veteran of military service as they are dead. Meaning they did not survive their military service. The surviving members of their family typically recieve benefits.

 

A combat veteran used to be any member of the Armed Forces of the United States of America that was in direct action with the enemy for a period of 30 days or more in an area designated as a war zone. Areas of hazardous duty often do not fall into this category despite the fact they can involve direct action. Think Beirut, KFOR, or North Camp in Sinai that routinely took mortar and harrasment fire. That definition could have changed since I got out in 2001.

 

Good question for members who never served to understand the differences in terminology.

 

 

Sad . . . So, someone who served two years in peacetime gets designated a veteran and the only thing someone who died in service gets is "casualty"? Wow. I'm underwhelmed. Anyone know when this changed post-1966? Since this is obviously something new. 

 

 

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2 hours ago, stratasfan said:

Don't know if any of you have seen the great new addition to Find A Grave . . . you can now designate a memorial as "Veteran" and that is searchable. Of course, like any other thing, it is only as good as the memorial owners marking the memorials "vet". But, it is grand when it is on there! 

 

Well, Sis sent in a lot of edits to designate Crimean War soldiers who fell at a particular battle. They were all declined this morning and the memorial owner states that a Veteran has to be discharged from service and that nobody who dies in military service is a "veteran". 

 

We are interested in other member's opinions here, as we started looking into what the classification of "Veteran" is, and there is a huge debate on the Find-A-Grave forum about this, too. 

 

 

Under Title 38 of the U.S. Code, a veteran is defined as a “person who served in the active military, naval, air, or space service, and who was discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable.” You have seen from the title 38 definition above that there is no minimum time of service required to be considered a “veteran” so long as you served on active duty. [from va.org]

 

Also, from reading the above, "Military" means only Army, Coast Guard and Marines, since they are not listed after like Navy, Air Force, and Space Force which are not military but other Armed Forces.

 

So . . . interested in any thoughts as to what others think a "Veteran" is and what about Army, USCG and USMC being "military while the others are not? This is all new to me, and I really am wondering about all this. 

 

What would you classify as service to entitle the use of "veteran"? What about KIA or DNB or DOW or MIA?

 

 

Title 38 of U.S. Code.....I just cant wrap my head around any manner in which that would apply to the Crimean War or any one who served or fell while engaged in that conflict. To my knowledge( admittedly limited) the United States was not engaged in that conflict.

The first paragraph in this link defines it as clearly as it can be defined. Various opinions have no bearing.

https://va.org/what-is-a-veteran-the-legal-definition/

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No . . .I guess I wasn't clear on this . . . I'm not talking about the Crimea. We got on to this because of the Sis' edits for Crimeans "casualties" (they didn't serve, they just died). 

 

I'm asking about US people who actually spent time in the military. 

 

I think that link is the same quote. But I still say . . . what is someone who actually dies in service called? Also, in that VA thing - why are the Army, USMC and USCG "military" and the others are their own thing?

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snake36bravo
6 minutes ago, stratasfan said:

 

Sad . . . So, someone who served two years in peacetime gets designated a veteran and the only thing someone who died in service gets is "casualty"? Wow. I'm underwhelmed. Anyone know when this changed post-1966? Since this is obviously something new. 

 

 

 

That's kind of the whole point of the wording actually. I dont personally see that as sad. Those who are killed while serving are still very much honored, still respected, and their accomplishments are usually on their tombstones which still get American flags planted by them in honor of their service and sacrifice.

 

I would venture to say its the living that carry the heaviest burden and designating them veterans is appropriate.

 

I dont know anyone who just served 2 years and is done. 

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Thanks for the opinions. Guess that's it. Appreciate the comments. I'm off to spend my time on something happier and a bit more meaningful.

 

That only the surviving ones count so that you get benefits and the best someone who is killed in service gets is "casualty" and a flag put on their grave one day of the year? I'd say that is sad.

 

Well . . . thanks for the info. 

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Oh, if anyone actually can find out when it changed after 1966 . . . tag me, as I'm very much interested when the meaning of veteran became what it is now according to VA benefits. 

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Jim McCauley

I'm up to eight times being honorably discharged.  Working on my 9th time.  Since I'm currently on active duty, based on what I'm reading here, does that mean I'm not currently a veteran but was in the past? (Kind of reads like a George Carlin joke.)

 

In my opinion, for what it's worth, service members who served honorably and completed their service, whether through death or discharge, are veterans.

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Just now, Jim McCauley said:

I'm up to eight times being honorably discharged.  Working on my 9th time.  Since I'm currently on active duty, based on what I'm reading here, does that mean I'm not currently a veteran but was in the past? (Kind of reads like a George Carlin joke.)

 

In my opinion, for what it's worth, service members who served honorably and completed their service, whether through death or discharge, are veterans.

 

Correct . . . you are not a veteran by the standards of the VA. You were for the time between those discharges. My Grampa was in the USCG for over twenty years, and he was discharges something like 6 times. I guess it means he was only a veteran because he was lucky enough to have survived his final discharge. 

 

You and I can have a club of one. Death "discharges" you from military service. It "releases" you from the world. I say "veteran". I guess I'm politically incorrect, though. Thanks for the comment. 

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Jim McCauley
2 minutes ago, stratasfan said:

 

Correct . . . you are not a veteran by the standards of the VA. You were for the time between those discharges. My Grampa was in the USCG for over twenty years, and he was discharges something like 6 times. I guess it means he was only a veteran because he was lucky enough to have survived his final discharge. 

 

You and I can have a club of one. Death "discharges" you from military service. It "releases" you from the world. I say "veteran". I guess I'm politically incorrect, though. Thanks for the comment. 

 

The VA does consider me a veteran.  I have my VA card and they mail, email and occasionally call me.  Because I'm currently on active duty, I can't access many of the VA benefits, not because I'm not a veteran but because I'm currently eligible for TriCare. 

 

It hadn't occurred to me that this could be confusing but after reading this thread, I can see it is a bit confusing.

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triplecanopy

In several of the British Commonwealth Nations that I was fortunate to visit, the term used was 'Returned Soldier' instead of Veteran. They have RSO or Returned Soldiers Organizations and Returned Soldiers Day just like our Veterans Day to honor those who served. The American Veterans Administration is a Governmental run Veterans Care organization for living (discharged or retired service personnel).  The ones who died who are casualties of war or training accidents are honored their service and sacrifice in many ways. They are our fallen service personnel (regardless of branch of service). They were cut down in the prime of life and there are numerous memorials each year to honor their service.

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1 minute ago, Jim McCauley said:

 

The VA does consider me a veteran.  I have my VA card and they mail, email and occasionally call me.  Because I'm currently on active duty, I can't access many of the VA benefits, not because I'm not a veteran but because I'm currently eligible for TriCare. 

 

It hadn't occurred to me that this could be confusing but after reading this thread, I can see it is a bit confusing.

 

Well . . . I'd say you are a veteran. But, try and find that. That's not what Title 38 is saying. And the VA only uses Title 38, and the VA is what every place is giving you to define "veteran". I know what Veteran has meant for 35 years going around non-serving members of the general Mid-West public. That's what really surprised us when we were trying to see what "veteran" meant and why it had erupted into an argument on Find A Grave. There are US people rejecting edits to mark WWII "casualties" as veterans. I still ask . . . what do you (you being general here) call them? And when did it change from back in 1966?

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2 minutes ago, triplecanopy said:

In several of the British Commonwealth Nations that I was fortunate to visit, the term used was 'Returned Soldier' instead of Veteran. They have RSO or Returned Soldiers Organizations and Returned Soldiers Day just like our Veterans Day to honor those who served. The American Veterans Administration is a Governmental run Veterans Care organization for living (discharged or retired service personnel).  The ones who died who are casualties of war or training accidents are honored their service and sacrifice in many ways. They are our fallen service personnel (regardless of branch of service). They were cut down in the prime of life and there are numerous memorials each year to honor their service.

 

Thanks . . .but again, not talking about non-US here and I'm not talking about yearly or bi-yearly or any other period during a year "holidays" or services. I'm trying to figure out the basic thing of how do you refer to an individual denoting that they served in the armed forces and did not live to see their discharge date? Not memorial days . . . but what do you call them themselves? (And I get that those last two words are totally not grammatical! -grin- )

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