Posted by: winteridge | December 22, 2007

War Veterans?

I’m sure everyone heard on today’s news that America’s oldest living World War I Veteran has died at age 109. Now that is a good long life. Got me to thinking again, though, about the gross inequality of our country’s treatment of its veterans. Yes, it’s the Cold War Veteran thing again.

Now, I have nothing against Mr J. Russell Coffey; I’m sure he served his country well and did all that was asked of him. I’m not even sure if he ever took advantage of any of his veteran benefits over the past 90 years. Perhaps he took part in the famed march on Washington after the Great War to protest the government’s treatment of veterans.  Our government has a long history of that, from George Washington’s volunteer troops to the current patients at Walter Reed hospital. 

But as the story goes, he enlisted in the US Army in 1918 just 1 month before WWI ended, and spent that month in basic training. He was discharged one month later. So here is a “War Veteran” who served his country faithfully for just 2 months, never heard a shot fired, never left the USA, yet he was eligible for full veteran benefits for the past 90 years. He probably even received a medal and a certificate of appreciation from his government. Even got to march in all the parades and hang out at the American Legion and swap “war” stories with the guys. For 90 years.

Compare this to my own military history in 1958 to 1960, the so-called “Cold war”, which we won, incidentally. I voluntarily gave my country three years, 2 1/2 of them in a hostile foreign country. Well, it was actually France, but General Charles DeGaulle was in charge. My veteran benefits? I think I may have been eligible for a GI Bill, which was too insignificant to even pay the rent, let alone cover tuition and groceries and such. That’s it. Does anyone see the irony here? The injustice? The humor? Oh, well. Rest in Peace, Mr Coffey.



  1. You received more benefits than this WWI veteran. He recieved no benefits since the benefits you clearly enjoy only came about from 1944 on.

    You need to grow up. I had VEAP, what little education benefits you had pales in comparison to the $8,100 I received and I had to put in $2,700 to get that much. But let us not forget the individuals that served between 5/5/1975 to1978, they had no GI Bill or VEAP. Your complaint is what? You had more but I had less, but I gave the Government 10.5 active and 12.3 reserve and you enjoyed more than I have yet your complaining about lifes unfairness.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, etihwr: and you apparently received $8100 more than I did. Sorry if I sound as if I am complaining personally. I use my personal example to attempt to illustrate the foolishness of excluding the millions of Cold War Vets from being treated as veterans. They are even blocked from the American Legion. Anyway, in the words of Donald Rumsfeld;

    “We wish to recognize your sacrifice in promoting the peace and stability of this great nation. We are forever grateful.”

  3. […] wrote an interesting post today on War Veterans?Here’s a quick […]

  4. The question is whether those who serve for a longer period, or who serve in a “hot” war zone, are entitled to more benefits. And for what?

    Arguably someone who lost his legs in a jungle in Vietnam is entitled to more than someone who sat in an office in France. And they need to draw the line somewhere.

  5. Thanks for your input. I do not, would not, question the rights of anyone who was wounded or served in any war, even for 1 day. My point is that we treat our Cold War Vets as non-vets, based only on arbitrary calendar dates as to when we were at war and when we were not at war, something the veteran had no control over. And I seek no personal benefits, not even a medal.
    Here is another example, again using personal experience of veterans I know: One man served 3 years in Germany during the Korean War. He saw no combat. He was considered a Korean War Veteran. Another did a year on the DMZ in Korea in 1958-59, with his life in danger every day. He is not a veteran (or only a CWV). Make sense?
    In my opinion, if one honorably serves his country in uniform he should be considered a veteran, and honored as a veteran. Pick a length of service: 1 day, 90 days, 1 year, whatever, and disregard who we may or may not be at war with at that time. End of argument.

  6. There are definately some flaws in the regulation of classification of what or who should be a Veteran. I am not sure what civilian is deciding but someone with a firm grasp of what is or has happened during a certain conflict or time frame should be make that decision. Dont disrespect the REAL VETS by giving someone Veteran Status with full benifits for serving one day as a Soldier. This is regulated and should continue to be regulated as time marches on and perhaps someone showed go back and take a closer look at conflicts of the pass weither COLD or HOT (determined by someone in a plush office rather then someone with boots on the ground) and reclass some events of the pass and honor those SOLDIERS with the proper status they deserves

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