Despite it being overwhelmingly approved by the South Dakota House of Representatives earlier this week, an Aberdeen lawmaker believes it’s still possible to derail a proposal that would change the way the state defines its military veterans.
Republican Rep. Dan Kaiser said Thursday that the unexpectedly easy passage (63-4) of House Bill 1179 on Tuesday does not necessarily mean it’s clear sailing for supporters of the measure. The bill would remove a stipulation that requires members of the South Dakota armed forces reserves and National Guard to serve 90 days of “continuous federalized active military duty” in order to receive veteran status.
The House’s action has displeased a number of veterans around the state.
I find it distressing that other veterans are pushing against this redefinition of veteran status. I might have spent my fair share of time teasing the Weekend Warrior crowd, but the fact is, one who signs on the bottom line, and serves his or her state and country is a vet.
Service members don’t get much choice in just how they serve. Whether they’re called up, deployed, sent into combat, those are things beyond their control for the most part.
And let us not forget that service in the reserve components has challenges that active duty members don’t face. Many reservists actually spend a great deal of money simply attending their drills, to the point where some are actually losing money by staying in.
That’s not even taking into consideration the disruption to their primary employment if and when they are activated. Federal law provides protection for the civilian jobs of reserve component members called to active duty, but enforcing that law is difficult, and many employers have been known to ignore it, safe in the knowledge that they’ll almost certainly get away with either discriminating in the hiring process, or finding creative ways to fire reservists.
The benefits South Dakota are offering here are modest. The service reservists are offering to their state and nation may be modest as well (or not), but should also be recognized.