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?