What is a Combat Veteran?

What is a Combat Veteran?

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.

[However, 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.

The above statements are pretty broad and do not adequately describe the troops of Charlie Company.  So here are my definitions of an Army Combat Veteran who served in Vietnam:

–          You were eligible and received a Combat Infantryman Badge.

–          You were eligible and received a Combat Medical Badge.

–          You may have received a Purple Heart.

–          You may have received various medals with V device for valor.

–          You were assigned to Charlie Company and humped the boonies.

Fast Freddy says:

if you lived behind wire, if you were in the rear echelon, if you slept in a bed, if you ate hot food, if you took hot showers, if you used a flush toilet, if you got laid regularly, you were NOT a Combat Veteran

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3 thoughts on “What is a Combat Veteran?

  1. Hey Fast Freddy,

    I was a 71H30 – personnel management specialist. The guy who slept in my bed before me was killed by a rocket. Does his purple heart make him a combat veteran? Three of our perimeter guards got hit by a RPG one night, all wounded, one lost a leg. Are they combat veterans? Two guards in a base nearby were killed, how about them? I spent 65 nights on guard duty, 10 sappers came at us one night while I was on guard. We caught them, our M-60s repelled them and our helicopters killed them all. Am I a “combat” veteran? My base, Dong Ba Thin, got hit by hundreds of rockets and mortars. We had men wounded and men killed by incoming as well as sappers. Everyone on my base was a combat veteran. A pretty good friend of mine was 11Bravo and in the Bush for 6 months and never once got shot at or shot at anybody. We all fought in that ugly war, Fast Freddy. Randy

  2. I served in Viet Nam from Feb 15, 1969 til March 31, 1970 with 1st BN, 12th Inf Reg, 4th Inf Div. I was a radio operator on several Fire Bases; LZ Mile High, LZ Nicole, LZ Penny, LZ Radcliff. We were shot at, We were shelled, and had sappers breach or defenses. I would consider myself a “Combat Vet”. Am I wrong?

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