Posted by: winteridge | November 14, 2007

Thank You…I think?


Those of us who love to abuse the NYS Legislature for its collective inability to accomplish anything were shocked this week to learn that they had actually passed a law somehow. Even more shocking to me was the news that this law concerned veteran benefits for all us Cold War Veterans. I just cannot imagine why this was done, certainly the Cold Warriors do not have a lobbyist in Albany throwing money at the legislators for the past 50 years. Perhaps just a token item for the legislators to put on their resume and recorded phone messages come election time. “I AM FOR THE VETERAN AND OPPOSED TO INCREASED PROPERTY TAXES! Ulp, well, I mean…”

For those not familiar with Cold War Veterans, that term takes in all of us who served in the US Armed Forces from 1945 thru 1990, during the designated periods when we were not at war with anyone. Cold Warriors, totally through luck and no fault of their own, are not eligible for property tax breaks, Veteran medical benefits, VA hospitals, veteran social/service organizations, burial benefits, or a number of other breaks the “Hot” war vets qualify for. In my own case, as an example, I served 2 1/2 years at a US Army base in France in the 1950-60’s, during the coldest part of the Cold War, not fighting Russia, East Germany, Lebanon, France, North Korea, China, and a number of other potential foes, yet I qualify for no benefits. My successor at that same base, however, after only 2 months at my job, same desk same pencil, became an eligible Vietnam War Veteran through no fault of his own. Go figure. I never said any of this would make sense. Should we be penalized because our fearless leaders did not find a war to get involved in while we were in uniform?

In their effort to correct this gross injustice on the American Veteran, and displaying their usual devotion to detailed research and extensive debate, the NY legislators voted to give the Cold Warriors an unspecified break on their property taxes, to take effect at some still unspecified time in the future. Typically, there was nothing in the measure saying how this tax cut would be funded, or by whom, or how a veteran would qualify for it. Possibly the county, town, and local governments will have to fund it (read that as you and I). Rumor is that the veteran would have to re-qualify for it every year for some reason, and, in order to qualify, he/she would need something called a “Certificate of Recognition” signed by Donald Rumsfeld himself. Yes, Uh-oh.

Just for fun, I checked into this “Cold War Certificate”. All one has to do is contact US Army Human Resources, prove his/her status as a veteran, and humbly request that the government acknowledge and recognize his service to his country during the past 50 years. In writing. And you do not have to be a US Citizen. This process should take no more than 2-6 months, providing the army can find a record of you somewhere. I’m not sure if I would need to do this every year to qualify for a property tax break. Also, I’m not sure if “Hot” war vets have to go through all this or not. One would hope not. Could this just be a plan to update the veteran records, just in case?

So, anyway, I believe I will reserve my big round of applause to Mr Bruno and Mr Silver for this gift. As with most tax breaks, the spending does not stop, so the taxes have to come out of one of my pockets or the other, and either way my pants get lighter. But if any other Cold Warriors are reading this, I wish to recognize your sacrifice in promoting the peace and stability of this great nation. I am forever grateful. But no benefits or medals for you.

Hmmmm. I just had another thought. Do you suppose this tax break could be retro-active to 1945? Now THAT would be a thank-you that I could take to the bank. Maybe I should call my legislator. In person.

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Responses

  1. After further study, I find that there is actually a Cold War Veterans Association, which it appears devotes most of its energy to obtaining victory medals for the Cold Warriors. It seems that a few years back, The Prez (Bush II) declared that the Cold War was officially over, and that our side had won. So the CWVA decided that we should all get a victory medal. I would rather have the benefits. I never even got the Good Conduct Medal the army promised me 50 years ago.

  2. Even more interesting is the notion that the two most popular veteran organizations, the American Legion and the VFW, both heartily endorse the notion of a medal for Cold Warriors, but both refuse to allow CWV to join their dwindling ranks. Strange world we have made for ourselves.

    The Legion is the worst: they send a form every couple of years (interesting that they have a list of CWV, but the government doesn’t), recruiting members, but when you send it in, you are rejected. That hurts… I guess I would rather be ignored completely, the way the government does it.

  3. It just seems obscene for a veteran to have to contact the government and ask to be thanked for his service to his country. Then Rummie (or his replacement) might respond with something like: Oh, did you serve in that one? I think we won it. I missed it myself, but uh, yeah, whatever you did for your country, uh, thanks.


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