Who Are Veterans In The United States?
For those people who didn’t serve in any of the military services, it may be hard to understand what a veteran is. In 73 countries, serving in the military is either through draft or mandatory, each country has its system. The list includes U.S., South Korea, Finland, Iran, Switzerland, Russia, Taiwan, Turkey, Egypt, Greece, etc. In the U.S., there is a mandatory selective service system where a certain age group must register in case that conscription is required.
When you say the word ‘veteran’, some people quickly think that it only involves those who actively serve in the military like US Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air, Force, Coast Guard, Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service, and Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association during war times. However, people who served in any of these units even during the peaceful times are also considered as veterans.
In the past, it was called as the ‘Armistice Day’, which was a celebration of the end of World War I. It was first celebrated on November 11, 1919, and became a national holiday from 1938. It was in 1954 that President Dwight D. Eisenhower changed the name to Veterans Day by signing the legislation. This day is celebrated by speeches and parades to honor the veterans who served any of America’s wars. There are three states where more than 1 million veterans live: California, Texas, and Florida. However, the annual celebration takes place in Virginia at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. Note that you should not confuse Veterans with Memorial Day. The Memorial Day is the tribute for those who lost their lives in combat.
- War Veterans
This is the term that is used for people who were ordered by any USAF branch to venture into foreign lands and participate in direct or non-direct activities against the enemies of the U.S.
- Combat Veterans
These are the people who served in a USAF branch and are experienced hostilities, or took part in an action against an enemy soldier for a certain time frame due to friendly, defensive, or offensive military actions.
According to the American Community Survey, there were 21.2 million veterans in the U.S. in 2012. This number includes 1.6 million female veterans, 11.3% black, and 9.6 million veterans who are included in the age group of 65 and older as well. In addition to these figures, there are also statistics about veterans who are suffering and in needs of help. 12% of the total number of veterans are homeless and ended up living on the street for 8-9 times the length of their deployments. On the other hand, there is an unemployment rate of 6.2% of Gulf War-era II veterans. Some of the main reasons why veterans are having a hard time maintaining relationships and get a stable job are due to mental health issues and drug addictions. Don’t you think, considering that they served the government and supported the country, it is important to help them too?
Wartime medals are awarded to individuals based on their combat involvement, sacrifice, and/or valor. However, the benefits for different kinds of veterans give huge help.
- Honorable Discharged Veteran
Veterans can get benefits based on Congressional regulations depending on their status: Honorable Discharge or Under Honorable Conditions. However, they cannot claim retirement benefits. They can only get benefits and entitlements based on the duration of their service and the duties that they performed. In the case that a person was discharged due to bad conduct, he/she is entitled to only limited benefits or not at all.
- Military Retiree
Retirees are those who have more than 20 years of service or a medically discharged status. They are eligible for a wide range of privileges, benefits, and entitlements that may accrue. In addition, retirees can access military bases to gain medical, commissary, and exchange benefits. However, not all services can be accessed due to the congressional regulation limits.
- Disabled Veteran
A person who suffered wounds, illness, physical ailment, serious injuries, or other medical conditions during their military service is eligible to receive benefits. Generally, the benefits come in the form of disability ratings with percentages. The compensation can be as low as 10 and up to 100 percent, depending on the severity of the condition. A medical condition is not limited only to combat-related cases. In case that you are on active duty but had an off-duty sports injury, it will still be considered as service related, and the veteran is qualified for both medical and financial benefits.
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