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Agreed George, none of us here gave much consideration for personal recognition, then or now. Some of us then in the control rooms of submarines, the flight lines and missile control centers of SAC bases, the Marine expeditionary units and carrier battle groups at sea, and the front lines of the 38th Parallel in Korea or the Fulda Gap in Europe would have considered it a miracle that the Cold War didn't end in some cataclysmic global thermo-nuclear nightmare. However, the efforts and presence of many, and the dogged determination by all of us guaranteed that any first strike against the United States and our allies would not have been the last word without an overwhelming and devastating second strike in response. Through deterrence, we were able to move a paralyzed world out of the Cold War nightmare and move forward. Because we won the Cold War, Eastern Europe is no longer under the harsh yoke of Soviet dominance, and Africa, Asia, and South America, are no longer the fertile ground for up and coming Marxist regimes. Even Red China, while still controlled by a Communist theocracy, has seen the handwriting on the wall, starting with the fall of the Soviet Union and the triumph of our constitutional republic backed by a free market economy.
What Cold War veterans want is not so much the right to wear a medal or hang a certificate on the wall, but the legal recognition already granted to other war veterans who may receive greater rights and privileges through the Department of Veterans Affairs and the various veterans service organizations simply because those other veterans served in time of a “recognized” war. Sadly, as budgets are getting cut, even the VA will have to determine where the dividing lines are between eligible veterans and veterans with reduced benefits. That should never be allowed. Today’s OEF-OIF veterans are tenacious about defending their service contributions as they should. They won't fall into the same trap that many of us fell into in later years when we threw our seabags in the corner and moved on with life. The truth is we were always on the brink of world war from the day World War II ended --- until Russian Federation tanks surrounded the Soviet Politburo building in 1991 and the Soviet regime and military stood down.
Back in the mid-70s, prior to my first deterrent patrol that would take us close to the Soviet Union, and in harm’s way with our finger on the trigger, our submarine squadron commander told us during our pre-patrol brief, that our struggle will be better won if we could force the Soviets to one day stand down with no shots ever fired. That day came 16 years later because of our efforts, and the efforts of every man and woman, in every branch of service, who served from 1945 to 1991.
Write, email or call your congressional delegation and ask them to be a part of the bill to include Cold War veterans as those who served during a time of National Defense.
Your points are well taken, especially about benefits. In short, when I got off active duty in 1958 I went on to college. At that time there was no peacetime college assistance. In fact it wasn't till I got out of grad school that peacetime benefits came about. It would have been nice to have received some aid.
That said, and the issue of medals aside, I would agree that the same benefits should be accorded all who serve, regardless of the time frame and degree to which a person is in harm's way.
At this point in time, however, a much more significant issue faces us, that being the bankrupt nature of our once truly great nation. My concern is the same concern of many realists in our nation: unmanageable debt and out of control spending by our presidents and congress. It mattered not whether the head of state was republican or democrat. My persuasion is that of a conservative. Yet it was a moderate liberal in the mid 90s that brought spending (visa vi revenues) under control. And it was a moderate conservative in the last decade that started the ballooning process. Of course we all know what the current president is like.
George, I can't argue that we have to get our fiscal house in order. I believe that Ronald Reagan showed the way, and in spite of a Democrat congress during six out of his eight years, managed to spend what was necessary to end the Cold War and at the same time instill business and consumer confidence enough to bring us out of double digit inflation and a major recession. The recovery momentum started to stall when American businesses decided to go international, partly because of an emerging global consumer economy and partly because of the rising cost of labor here.
I believe that we can again recover -- and take care of our veterans. Like the Cold War veterans of your era, the Cold War veterans in the 80s were left out of VA Educational Benefits which were not reinstated until the '90/91 Persian Gulf War. As a veteran of the immediate post-Vietnam era, I was fortunate to benefit from Chapter 34 (the old 1944 GI Bill) and I may have been among the last veterans to receive it. After that, veterans had to pay into the Montgomery GI Bill or get no educational benefits. They -- or perhaps their children/grand children -- should be entitled to some sort of educational compensation, however little -- or however late. Likewise, ALL veterans should have access to VA Health Care. Remember, many veterans who make good money and have good health insurance would gladly sign on their insurance benefits to the VA instead of an outside health provider who would hit them for a much bigger deductable. The insurance money would help offset the VA's costs and keep more accurate data on the medical needs of veterans. Needless to say, VA Health Care is considered world class according to the latest medical industry standards.
The bottom line is that all veterans need to be treated better and we all need to not let ourselves to get divided by Congress -- or divided among ourselves. I blame veterans’ service organizations for much of the division and that has to end too. We can start by bringing in 45 years of Cold War vets as men and women who “signed that blank check” when thermo-nuclear war was a near certainty, and by looking out for the younger vets that come after us by staying involved in the legislative process and keeping our voices heard.
Richard, I would agree with the substance of much of what you're saying about benefits. The problem facing us (those in the U.S.) is that we're broke. Broke. As a consequence, the idea of spending more is somewhat frightening.
One of the main problem is entitlements. Social security, medicare, welfare. The list goes on & on. Many, if not most in America, believe that we are entitled to something. That includes me. I contributed over my working lifetime, and still do, handsomely to social security. Considering the imputed earnings that I would have received had I been allowed to invest this money means that the government still owes me a great deal. I'm entitled to it. Those on welfare feel they're entitled to it. Those receiving medicare feel they're entitled to it. This includes me.
Now, what's the solution? Clearly, a total reexamination of all entitlements. All. VA benefits included. Welfare especially. Social security, medicare, the whole lot. I've told many that I would be willing to give up one third of my social security provided that the entire entitlement issue is dealt with. We both know that this won't happen.
In the interim, I'm like many of Tea Party people. No new spending. Cut spending. Bring about a restoration of reality now. Later is too late. This means no additional benefits to anyone, including peacetimers in the military. And certainly scrap the idea of awarding medals to those serving in peacetime. My position remains the same: medals should be awarded for valor, only true valor.
You and I will never agree on many issues, Richard.. That's good. We need to have a diversity of ideas. Even Obama can't quiet this process. Of course I realize that my views will never sync with many, be they military, vets, or just plain ordinary folks.
I do have to disagree with your statement "very few people were in danger, much less fought."
Men sitting in missile silos were constantly being exposed to dangerous chemicals, those on the front line
in the Fulda Gap, all along the Iron Curtain, aboard submarines on deterrent patrol, SAC planes 24/7, all
ships at sea, men on the ground were on constant alert. The danger was never more than a moment away.
The many places where our troops were placed on foreign soil, The Congo, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Panama,
Granada, Lebanon, Korea, Vietnam all part of the Cold War.
This is about recognition for those who served, and those who gave their lives to protect freedom
I hope the Armchair Warriors in Washington seriously consider us Cold War vets. I recently visited the Air Force Museum in Fairborne (Dayton) Ohio which recognized the Cold War and displayed some amazing artifacts and items from that period.
I just don't understand why they continue to ignore or avoid the recognition of military and civilian personnel who participated in that era.
The Navy Museum in the Navy Yard in DC has a whole section devoted to the Cold War. And little by
little cities and towns are building Cold War Memorial, or adding to other memorials already in place.
Congress and DoD are the big battlefields.
Well, just saying what ought to happen won't make it so. All Cold War veterans, and any other support they can muster from other veterans groups need to launch a campaign aimed at every congressional delegation in Washington. I was in the submarine service 35 years ago and all of us who served then know all too well that the entire world was ever on the brink of nuclear war. We went into this thing not knowing how it would end. Every alert, every battle stations-missile, every general quarters sounded because of a Soviet contact, every hot war in some obscure corner of Africa, the Middle East, or Asia that was due to the ongoing and residual effects of the Cold War was one step closer to a cataclysmic nuclear war that would have ended human civilization as we know it, not just among antagonists, but throughout the planet. The Cold War was a desperate struggle that appeared to have no end. It started at the Elbe River even before the Nazis surrendered and ended with a shootout between Russian troops and tanks in their own capital and Politburo-Soviet during the collapse of the Soviet Union 45 years later. How can anybody not know that we were in a desperate struggle for perseverance and survival between 1945 and 1991? I think I can answer that.
I am in the rare position of having served in the Cold War, and again in more contemporary times, with a different generation of Americans, and against a totally different enemy. As a DOD specialist, I got to know a lot of young Marines who knew nothing about the Cold War other than just a phrase in their high school history classes. Most of the Marines that I served with in Iraq were not even born when the Cold War ended. The very concept of undersea warfare against a technologically advance maritime superpower was stunning and incomprehensible to them, because they never lived in an age when there was any other superpower than the United States. Even the “senior” NCOICs and mid-ranking officers that I worked with in Iraq and here in the States were just 8-10 years old at the time – and hardly savvy of breaking news and world events in the fast paced days of the Lebanese Civil War, the Iran-Iraq War, the Soviet-Afghan War and countless other shooting wars that were fast leading toward a final showdown between the superpowers that would preclude the end of global civilization.
For years after the Cold War, we were just all damn glad that we were able to pull off the impossible and avoid what was essentially a “planned” catastrophic war, too terrible to ignore, and too frightening to not be prepared to fight. With the fall of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union, and the success of the Reagan economic recovery of the 80s which extended through the 90s, we were proud of our accomplishments, but we were also just too busy trying to get on with the world and with our lives. None of us ever thought that anybody would ever forget – but they did. That is why we need to write, email and call our congressional delegations and specifically the authors of these bills. I dare say that some of our biggest detractors will be veterans’ service organizations who cannot even agree among eachother what constitutes a wartime veteran or the definition of national defense. We must identify and contact our friends and allies from the ranks of those veteran organizations. Many of them are Cold War veterans too and they can help. Hope this helps, feel free to quote me all or in part, but let's get busy none-the-less. Finally, feel free to post copies of letters and emails to your congressional delegations in this forum and on Jerry's site too . They will inspire more members to participate in what had better be a broad grass roots effort in order to succeed.
This is a good thing, and gives respect to those who deserve it. It takes a little while but the service recognition does arrive.
We should have this medal, after all they can come up with a Berlin Airlift Medal at the end of WWII. We stepped up and did our duty. National Defense for a lot of vets - why not a medal for those of us that served during the "Cold War?"
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