What is a Combat Veteran?

  1. What the U.S. Government states:
  • The VA states:

Veterans, including activated Reservists and members of the National Guard, are [Combat Veterans] if they served on active duty in a theater of combat operations…and have been discharged under other than dishonorable conditions.

[The above definition is for eligibility for VA benefits]

  • The American War Library states:

What is a Veteran? – A veteran is defined by federal law, moral code and military service as “Any, Any, Any”… A military veteran is Any person who served for Any length of time in Any military service branch.

What is a War Veteran? – A war veteran is Any GI (Government Issue) ordered to foreign soil or waters to participate in direct or support activity against an enemy. The operant condition: Any GI sent in harm’s way.

What is a Combat Veteran? – A combat veteran is Any GI who experiences any level of hostility for Any duration resulting from offensive, defensive or friendly fire military action involving a real or perceived enemy in Any foreign theater.  Wartime medals also define various levels of individual combat involvement, sacrifice and/or valor.

  1. Hotel Company 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division definition of a Combat Veteran
  • For more than two centuries, the ground combat units of the Marine Corps have asserted combat power and established battlefield dominance. We trained in a ground infantry unit before going to Vietnam with  specialties within Infantry including:
    1. Rifleman: Trained in close combat, operates M16A4 rifle, M203 grenade launcher, the M72 LAW with the M61 Grenade and the M18 Claymore.
    2. Machine Gunner: Employs medium and heavy machine guns (M60’s) in support of maneuver elements.
    3. Mortarman: Provides indirect fire in support of maneuver elements using light, medium or heavy mortars with M19 60mmm mortar and the M1 81mm mortars.
    4. Assaultman: Assaults fortified targets with rockets, demolitions and breaching/infiltration techniques.
  • Infantrymen are trained to locate, close within and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver, or repel the enemy’s assault by fire and close combat. Riflemen serve as the primary scouts, assault troops and close combat forces within each infantry unit.
  • In our day, our mission was to seek out the enemy, kill or be killed while fighting the enemy face to face in close combat both during the day and all through the night. We lived on the ground and fought most of those days we were in country in Vietnam.
  • A combat veteran was one who engaged with the enemy, sweats, shed tears, and bleeds on the battlefield. One who gave all we had to fight for freedom from communism and justice.  We fought to keep our families, friends and all Americans free, secure, and out of danger.
  • All combat veterans express similar thoughts about who we are. Many of us say we are survivors that started out with idealistic and positive goals about the war but all of that evaporated in the brutality of combat. Many of us still grieve the appalling casualties and losses we suffered, not to mention the appalling casualties among the civilian populations we were sent to protect or liberate. But beyond that, we experienced tremendous loneliness when we returned home — the unique isolation of knowing that our closest friends and family will never really comprehend the hell and destruction that we went through.

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