Are You a Veteran?

Stripping aside the partisan bickering, this little kerfuffle in Maine raises an interesting question- who is a veteran?

AUGUSTA, Maine — An ongoing feud over whether a Vietnam War-era National Guard member is qualified to serve on a state board has raised the question of who is a veteran.

Earlier this week, Rep. Paul Gilbert, D-Jay, questioned whether National Guard service during the early 1970s makes someone a military veteran.

Gov. Paul LePage, Republican lawmakers and members of Maine veterans organizations quickly expressed outrage that Gilbert raised the issue.

During a Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee confirmation hearing Tuesday on Christopher Pierce’s nomination to serve on the Finance Authority of Maine’s board, Gilbert said that service in the National Guard during the early 1970s “was not considered qualification for veteran’s status.”

Mr. Pierce, nominated to serve on the board, apparently served honorably in the National Guard, but fails, through no fault of his own, to meet the criteria established by the federal VA to be defined as a veteran.  But the state criteria that calls for a veteran on the board doesn’t define who is or is not a veteran.

Offhandedly, I tend to think that if you’ve got a DD214 with an honorable discharge, you’re a veteran, even if you don’t qualify for federal benefits. But I see the point Mr. Gilbert is making, and while I’m sure he has a partisan purpose in opposing Mr. Pierce’s appointment, I don’t see that he has attacked Mr. Pierce’s service, but notes solely that it fails to meet the federal definition.

What say you?

15 thoughts on “Are You a Veteran?”

  1. I also think that if you’ve got a DD214 with an honorable discharge, you’re a veteran, even if you don’t qualify for federal benefits. The uniform is the same and Guard and Reserve members were and are subject to call in an active war zone. Many Guard and Reserve members served in Irag and other countries recently.

    1. Absolutely. It may be true that many joined the Guard during the 60s and early 70s to avoid VN, but it doesn’t change the fact that they joined willingly and COULD have been activated and sent over. He’s a veteran.

  2. It’s really annoying that this question still has legs. I retired from the Air Force Reserve with 24 years, with no extended non-training active duty. I carry a grey card and draw retired pay, but fail to qualify for some federal benefits. When trying to ascertain how to respond to those blocks on many forms – “Veteran?” – the answers I have received have varied. Seems there are several tiers of veterans, but only those with extended active duty (180 days), whether leading to a retirement or not, are considered to be capital V veterans. OK, no objection to that. It just should not be so damned hard to know or find out. So far I have found no authoritative single source that lays all this out. So, how does one respond to the “Veteran?” question? Some think the real question is “180 days of extended active duty, not for training?” It’s possible to answer in good faith and still be guilty of falsifying a federal form. Pain in the butt.

    1. And strangely enough Mr. Gilbert has never served in the military (any branch Active or Reserve) he does have a long record of union membership and a long record of anti-military votes. It’s shocking that he’s a democrat !

  3. Agree…DD-214 with Honorable in appropriate block means veteran. I was a grunt in RVN, my youngest brother did 4 years as a yoeman on a FFG to avoid going to RVN and has a DD-214 with Honorable…he’s a veteran, our step-brother deserted when he found out that as a Navy Corpsman he was going to RVN with Marines so he went underground until the Carter pardon….he is NOT a veteran and stronger opinions that I hold will not be expounded upon.

    1. “stronger opinions that I hold will not be expounded upon.”

      Best to save those for family get-togethers? 🙂

  4. Ditto on the Honorable Discharge on the DD214. The DoD loves to waste $$$ on radios and a ground vehicle we may not need, but dragged it’s feet until recently and is JUST NOW putting together an awards database.

    All vets need to step up to the plate. If you served ‘during’ a conflict you still *served*. That’s more than most Americans can say. My dad was a veteran, he served from 1955-1960 in the Air Force. I have three uncles who were in the Cold War military. Four cousins who served in the reserves. I joined in 2004.

    Honorable service is honorable, we’re the real ‘1%’.

  5. This is strictly a personal opinion, not a legal one. In my personal view, the term “Veteran”, carries one extremely important qualifier. It all boils down to one word, “willingness”. The question is this, are you willing to put your life online for this nation? This does not mean, at a time of your choosing, but RIGHT NOW! Yes, an Honorable Discharge with all of the appropriate paperwork should be with it and in order.

    Many politicians are willing to send you to war, but they are not willing to be sent. I am not saying that you need to have a military background to play all of the roles in this Nation. But, it appears that the law of the State of Maine require it to play this particular role. Our Leaders on both the State and National Level, need to follow all of the applicable law to their situation at that time.

    My question is this, To these legislators, do you follow the Law with the same due diligence, as you expect from these individuals who call themselves, “Veterans ”? Your party affiliation has no bearing in this discussion.

  6. DD 214 is the answer — honorable, medical, other or dishonorable. The type of discharge only determines benefits. There are many with honorable discharges, who disregarded their oaths of office and really should be in jail or be placed in the stocks for others to throw discarded vegetables or otherwise processed foods at.

  7. While i am of the DD-214 school, the office in question is a state office. The question then becomes a matter of state law. If a NGB-22 defines vet status in Maine, then the question is answered and the “good” Rep is just being a troublesome a$$ like so many Dems have tried to make an honorable profession.

  8. I am of the opinion that Heinlein’s Law should be invoked for holding both public office and the franchise of voting. If one is not willing to die to defend the Republic, then one should have no say in running it. Period.

    I am also of the opinion that NO Service Member, Active, Reserve, or Guard, regardless CONUS/OCONUS, wartime/peacetime status should pay ANY income taxes either.

    We carry out the duty some refuse to do and others dismiss. Therefore, we should reap far and above more for our collective sacrifices for the benefit of the Republic.

    We should get especially more than the TWANLOCs . . .

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