Vietnam Vet vs. Vietnam-Era Vet

| May 12, 2020

Bottom Line Up Front:  A National Defense Service Medal vs. a Vietnam Service Medal.

I don’t know all the fine details of this case, including the logo posted on this man’s campaign site, but I’ll give you the broad overview.

Larry Walsh is serving as a County Commissioner in Douglas County Nevada and had claimed on his reelection website that he was a Vietnam veteran. His rival’s campaign manager questioned that claim…

Commissioner defends using Vietnam veteran logo

An opponent questioned the way County Commissioner Larry Walsh’s characterized his military service in his advertising and on his web site.

Mark Gardner’s campaign manager Virginia Starrett pointed out that Walsh claims to be a Vietnam veteran.

Walsh served on active duty at Fort Lewis, Wash., from Feb. 28, 1966 to Jan. 19, 1968, according to his DD214.

He received an honorable discharge and a National Defense Service Medal, according to his military record.

Walsh said he’s never claimed to have served in-country, but defends his use of the term “Vietnam veteran.”

“I was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, which was awarded to all service members who served during the Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf and recently the Global War on Terrorism,” he said. “I think that qualifies me as a Vietnam Vet.”

People are weighing in on both sides of this issue writing letters to the editor.

May 7 Letters to the Editor

It’s Vietnam-era veteran


In regards to the Vietnam Veteran Vs. Vietnam Era Veteran.

Let’s drill this down here. The US Government does not accept the term Vietnam Vet. The correct and only legal term is Vietnam Era Veteran and was codified into law in 1974. (Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (or VEVRAA, 38 U.S.C. § 4212)

A Vietnam era veteran is a person who served on active duty anywhere in the world for a period of more than 180 days, any part of which occurred between Aug. 5, 1964, and May 7, 1975, and was discharged or released with other than a dishonorable discharge. Or was discharged or released from active duty for a service-connected disability if any part of such active duty was performed between August 5, 1964, and May 7, 1975.

There is no such thing as a “Vietnam Veteran.” So even if you were stationed in South Africa passing out basketballs at a gym, you qualify to call yourself a Vietnam Vet, because that term has no legal standing and is a colloquialism.

The US Government does not recognize “in-country” identifiers (Just like there is no such thing as a “confirmed kill.” ) The main reason is that troops stationed in Vietnam sometimes were tasked with missions in Laos and Cambodia. This keeps the US from having to acknowledge “Laos” or “Cambodia” Vets since officially there were no combat actions in those countries

These are the facts with the corresponding reference above where you can do the research yourself. This should clear up the argument but I know that some people will disagree, but facts are facts.

Jacqueline Paris


It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Category: Army Poser, Valor Vultures, Viet Nam, Vietnam

Comments (110)

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  1. Commissar says:



    ThenGulf War makes the example most obvious…

    Serving during the Gulf War does not make you a Gulf War vet.

    Serving in theater during the Gulf War does.

    The same applies to all wars.

    There is some wiggle room with the Global War on terrorism. But those who didn’t serve in country don’t get to claim “Iran” of “Afghanistan” veteran status.

    • FuzeVT says:

      I know there were a lot of folks that served in the military and somehow skated their way past serving in Iraq or the ‘Stan (or pretty much anywhere overseas). I don’t think anyone who isn’t a faker would say they are an Iraq or Afghanistan Veteran who didn’t actually go (once again, someone who isn’t a faker). It seems, however, this “Vietnam Era” veteran thing keeps coming up. Does that mean that in 50ish years we’ll start having “No I meant that I’m an Iraqi Era Veteran” BS to deal with? I’ll be dead by then so it really doesn’t matter to me.

      • MustangCryppie says:

        I retired in 2005, and I served in theater in Southern Watch, but I would never call myself a Gulf War or Iraq vet.

        And I’m not a GWOT vet either. Sat on my ass in Hawaii for the most part.

        What I do consider myself to be is one of Reagan’s Cold Warriors. As a Russian Linguist in the Navy I pretty much spent the entire 1980s chasing Rooskies all over the Pacific and Med. Damn proud of it too. Should have been paying the Navy it was so much fun.

    • Reaperman says:

      I spent the entire ‘WOT’ on the ‘G,’ goshdarnit. Not like those wimpy astronauts. 🙂

      I’m not technically sure I can even call my purple GWOT a participation medal without putting quotes around it, but I can confirm that I was, in fact, on the globe.

      • Reaperman says:

        Kidding aside, this has got me thinking. I’m “a vet” for the purposes of getting federal work because I sat around some cubicles during the GWOT–fine, it works for me. But a lot of the active duty people here aren’t actually “veterans” in that sense, because they’re doing what I did, but in the wrong decade. It’s kind of messed up. For them to get the status, they actually have to go to iraq or afghanistan specifically. (as I understand) Or maybe it’s messed up that I’m a ‘veteran’ for that purpose.

        • Peter the Bubblehead says:

          In 2001 I was stationed on Shore Duty in Groton, CT. We actively worked to get combat vessels ready and scrammed out to sea to participate in OEF. For this I am entitled to wear the GWOT Service Medal, as is pretty much any active duty military member who has served since 11 Sep 2001.
          In 2003 I was assigned to a seagoing command that participated in combat missions against Iraq. For this participation, I am entitled to wear the GWOT Expeditionary Medal for direct support of OIF (and to a lesser extent, the ongoing OEF).
          But never having had boots on the ground in either Afghanistan or Iraq, I cannot wear the Afghan Campaign nor Iraq Campaign Medals.
          I am still a Global War on Terrorism Veteran, but I would never tell anyone I was specifically an Iraq Veteran or an Afghan Veteran.

    • 26Limabeans says:


    • xyzzy says:

      What about those who were in the Pentagon on 9/11? Are they GWOT Veterans as well?

  2. ninja says:

    Steve Balm wrote:

    “It will be interesting to see how this plays out.”

    Looks as if Larry Walsh is identifying himself as a Vietnam Era Veteran:

    • ninja says:

      “Statement from In Plain Sight Marketing re: Larry Walsh and Vietnam Veteran Image” (dated 24 April 2020):

      “As co-owner of In Plain Sight Marketing and the person that made the call on utilizing the Vietnam Veteran image on Mr. Walsh’s website, I would like to apologize and explain. We were given direction from our client, Mr. Walsh, to share that he was designated by the U.S. Army a Vietnam Veteran. I chose the imagery to match the description I had, and unfortunately, I made a mistake in choosing the wrong image.”

      “I am deeply sorry if my mistake caused any hurt to our veteran community. I have family that has served and continues to serve our great country and hold the utmost respect for our veterans. It is unfortunate that this error on my part has created an atmosphere of divisiveness in our community toward a veteran of the Vietnam era who has served his country and serves his county. I regret deeply the harm caused to Mr. Walsh because of my error and I look forward to the community reuniting in thanks to our veterans.”

      “Mr. Walsh has been nothing but transparent. He supplied local media with his DD214, which states he was drafted as a Senior in college. He chose to serve instead of receiving a deferment to continue his education. The Army chose to station Mr. Walsh in Washington as a disbursement specialist in the finance division based on his field of study. The United States government awarded the National Defense Service Medal to all who served during that time and the designation of Vietnam Veteran regardless of where they served, which is where I was confused on the appropriate imagery.”

      “Again, I am deeply sorry for any harm my mistake caused to our veteran community.”

      “Sincerely, Renee Plain”

      • timactual says:

        “The United States government awarded the National Defense Service Medal to all who served during that time and the designation of Vietnam Veteran regardless of where they served,”

        “and the designation of Vietnam Veteran regardless ”

        Show me.

      • Ex-PH2 says:

        Hey, all I have is my gedunk medal (somewhere – I’ll find it) and my DDs and those papers don’t say “Vietnam Veteran”. They just tell you where I was discharged.

        Perhaps one should get verification of this guy’s service. I do NOT care where he served; it’s about how he presents himself that matters.

  3. Jonny F. says:

    Its the same with Vet tags on your car. Anyone with a DD214 can get Vet plates. At least in Virginia.

    • AW1Ed says:

      I edited your name- please hit the Valor Vultures tab at the top of the site and scroll until you come to my PSA to see why.

      If new here, it’s also a good idea to go to the TAH FNG tab to see what you can expect here.

  4. Green Thumb says:

    If he is honest (if) and he says that he never served in country but did serve honorably (honorable discharge) then I really do not have an issue, per se.

    If he starts throwing bullshit around like that idiot assclown Blumenthal, then that’s another thing.

    But then again, Vietnam was not my war. I guess its the same thing as an Iraqi or Afghan vet (or both) versus GWOT vet. Unsure. I guess I see the problem.

    • Peter the Bubblehead says:

      Someone can be a GWOT Vet simply by serving during the time-frame and being awarded the GWOT Service Medal, even in a CONUS assignment.
      You have to have deployed to the designated war zone for a certain amount of time to be awarded the GWOT Expeditionary Medal, which covers all service within the designated areas beyond having boots on the ground within the recognized borders of Afghanistan or Iraq.
      If you served in-country in either of those countries since 11 Sep 01, you are authorized the Afghanistan Campaign Medal or the Iraq Campaign Medal.
      If you have already earned one of either of those two medals, and you find yourself deployed there a second time, you have the option of adding the GWOT Expeditionary in lieu of the Campaign Medal Second Award.

  5. ninja says:

    What is interesting is if a deceased Veteran’s Family or Representative obtains a Headstone through Veteran Affairs, that Veteran can have “Vietnam” inscribed on their headstone even if they never served boots on the ground in Vietnam.

    The same applies to the Korean Conflict:

    “War service includes active duty service during a recognized period of war and the individual does not have to serve in the actual place of war, e.g., Vietnam may be inscribed if the Veteran served during the Vietnam War period, even though the individual never served in the country.”:

    Have read of cases where a Veteran served during the Korean War, but not physically in Korea or the AOR, i.e. they served Stateside or in Europe during that timeframe, yet has been referred as a Korean War Veteran.

    • OWB says:

      The explanation is that it covers the timeframe of military service. Which, in a way, sort of, almost makes some sense. It’s just that they fail miserably to educate all of us that that is what it is supposed to mean instead of what we all think when we look at it.

      What me and mine opted to do was leave off the Vietnam because neither of us was in country, but both of were for Desert Storm. So they are putting “Persian Gulf” on each of our headstones. (Don’t particularly like that either, but it seems much more honest. Guess DS/DS/DS would be too many chisel strokes.)

      • ninja says:


        Members of the ninja family “joke” about this since one member served during the Vietnam Era, but not boots on the ground. Both members served during the DS, Grenada, Just Cause, OEF, OIF, with one ninja family serving in OEF, boots on the ground, while the other ninja served in both OEF and OIF, boots on the ground.

        The ninja family comment tongue in cheek is: “Will VA be able to get all those conflicts on our headstones?”


        In reality, we think just as you, i.e. only have inscriptions of OEF/OIF on our headstone. We already told close family members “Please, NO Viet of the Nam on headstone”. We have one deceased Family member who served DURING the Vietnam Era, but NOT boots on the ground in Vietnam, yet has Vietnam inscribed on his headstone. It got old quickly when we had to explain to others that the Veteran did not serve IN Vietnam…and created a temporary strife with those who insisted the Veteran have “Vietnam” on the headstone.

        Doesn’t DAB have inscribed on his headstone “Vietnam”?


        • NHSparky says:

          Only because the bird farm he was on was inside an arbitrary box off the coast, which entitled him to a VSM.

          Certainly not because he was in-country or did anything heroic beside squatting in the deep sink.

        • Eggs says:

          I have a family member (using that term loosely) with Korea on their headstone. To my knowledge, he didn’t get any closer to Korea than Guam. If he wasn’t such a POS, I probably would not care either way.

          • SFC D says:

            My dad’s stone says “WWII-Korea-Vietnam” although he technically wasn’t boots on the ground.

            Dropped several thousand metric shit-tons of ordinance on that ground, though!

            • 26Limabeans says:

              My dad never set foot in Germany but he
              sure left his mark on the place.

              His stone reads “soaring above the clouds”.

            • Eggs says:

              Dad’s headstone is just his and Mom’s name, but he gets a new flag every year for doing his part in that ordinance delivery to the Axis back in the day.

        • AW1Ed says:

          Had to go there, didn’t you.
          dab stone

          • SFC D says:

            That stone should read:

            “Lived life? Well…”

          • Roh-Dog says:

            When I see this I’m left a’pondering; how much Old Crow would one have to drink to etch marble with the steam?

          • ninja says:

            I must be a terrible person, because no matter how many times I see that picture, I still laugh…

            (Bows head and mumbled “God forgive me” while attempting to stifle a chuckle)


          • Friend says:

            LMAO..Always causes the giggles..
            Headstone should’ve said..
            DISBARRED in California, Refused license to practice in Oregon, lousy SSI representative and all around ASSHOLE!
            I think I’ll dance tonight..

          • Skippy says:

            BHWHAHAHAHAHA !!!!!!

        • OWB says:

          Best way to insure that the headstone reads as YOU want it to read is to file the paperwork yourself. We call it reserving our spot. Family loves that they don’t have to worry about it. Even if your local cemetery doesn’t do that, a decent funeral director would take the form. Especially if you prepay for the funeral. Which we did.

          • ninja says:


            You are absolutely correct about doing all the paperwork ahead of time to lessen the burden on family members.

            Thank you for the guidance!

          • 11B-Mailclerk says:

            “Cold War Era Veteran”

  6. OWB says:

    Things have changed. Not enough for me personally claim to have been a Vietnam vet when I know I was a Vietnam Era vet. But, the Vietnam Veterans of American wants me to become a member. A staffer for a member of Congress insisted that I earned one of those commemorative “Vietnam Vet” coins because I served during Vietnam. She simply would not be dissuaded. I refused until a for reals Vietnam vet told me to just take the #%@& thing to avoid the scene further escalating. I took it and nodded my appreciation for his understanding.

    This is a mess. Because some folks want to feel good about themselves because they “do stuff” for vets they actually made another no reason for it at all bad situation. There is a real difference between Vietnam vets and Vietnam era vets. Those who do not understand that need to be educated.

    Meanwhile, folks should not claim that which they are not. Ever. Even when the goobermint is trying to drive yet another wedge between us. Still, I can almost understand why this clown might be confused. The signals have becomevery confused in the past few years.

  7. SFC D says:

    Who is this “Jacqueline Paris” and why is she the approving authority on this?

    • 26Limabeans says:

      Jacques Parie

    • OWB says:

      Because she knows the law, and the rest of us who lived through it know nothing. And clearly don’t matter.

      Yeah – this irritates me.

      Call yourself whatever you want. Nothing matters except your self-image. And “the law,” when it’s convenient.

      • SFC D says:

        Apparently, she knows “A” law, not “The” law. The Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 only defines “vietnam-era veterans” as it pertains to that particular act. Nothing more, nothing less.

  8. 26Limabeans says:

    “there is no such thing as a “confirmed kill.” ”

    How about Bin Laden?, may he circulate in the oceans
    as fish feces.

  9. WOW, spot on Steve. I got off of the OKIE 3 (LPH 3) in Nov of 1966, and she changed home ports to the left coast and was in Viet Nam a few times. I only wear a cap with the ships patch on it plus a cap with the USS Haynsworth DD 700 patch from Reserve time and USN caps.I have the NDSM and AFEM ribbons embroided on the USN caps and a Dominican Republic Vet cap with just the AFEM ribbon on it and no Viet Nam Vet cap. I mentioned a month or two ago about my friend Lenny who fits in with Steves post in that Lenny who went into the Navy in 1954-1958 shows me this Korea Vet cap with the Korea service ribbon and UN korea service ribbon embroided on it so I ask him if he served over in Korea besides the East coast on the USS Guardian, AGR 1 and he says no that he wasn’t there but the ribbons were for serving there at the time he was on board his ship, so after a little explaining that for in order to have those ribbons on the cap, he had to be over there. I also said the most important thing was that if those ribbons were not on his DD 214, they were null and void. I know that sometimes awards are left out of 214’s by clerical error but not in Lennie’s case since he wasn’t there. I told him to shit can the cap and I ordered him a cap with the NDSM and GCM embroided on it. Great post Steve.
    Trivia: any old timers know what rate a scope dope was???

    • charles w says:

      Radarman, later changed to Operations Specialist

      • Buckeye Jim says:

        Technically, you are referring to “rating”, not “rate”. Rating is an enlisted specialty, rate is related (pardon the pun) to pay grade, E-1, E-2, etc. such as Seaman Recruit, Seaman Apprentice………Petty Officer First Class….etc.

        Glad we Navy guys have descriptive terms unlike the ground ponders with their number systems.

      • Radarman is right. I don’t know if all these names that were common when I was serving are still used in the “New” Navy. My friend Lennie whom I mentioned in my prior comment was an
        RD 3 aboard the USS Guardian, AGR 1.

  10. Timothy Mac says:

    so much easier for me: Submarine qualified, Classified.

    Edited your name. Go to the Valor Vulture tab and scroll to my PSA to see why. If new, it’s also a good idea to go to the TAH FNG tab to see what you can expect here.

    • NHSparky says:

      Amen. Kinda like the Expeditionary Medal, and someone asks what it is.

      “Oh, this? We counted some whales and shit.”

  11. NHSparky says:

    Got a campaign ribbon/medal from the combat zone? No? STFU.

    I was in during DS/DS but would never call myself a veteran of said conflict. No shame in not having been there–lots of vets never got orders there. Needs of the Navy and all that.

    • ArmyATC says:

      I agree. Ms. Paris, in her spit in the war veteran’s eye editorial, is ignorant of or just dismisses entirely the one defining characteristic between a war veteran and a war era veteran, a campaign medal. My father served in the Army during the Korean War and in the Ohio Air National Guard during DS/DS. Not once did he ever call himself a veteran of either conflict never having served overseas. My eldest son served in the Air Force at Scott Air Force Base during the GWOT. He never set foot in either Afghanistan or Iraq and doesn’t call himself a veteran of either war.

  12. Wilted Willy says:

    I served during the Viet of the Nam, but I was never boots on the ground! I would never think of saying I was a Viet Nam Vet because I am not! I fail to see this whole argument? If you were not in country then you are not a Viet Nam Vet Now get over your fucking self!!!

    • 26Limabeans says:

      Yeah but you survived Ft. Monmouth.
      We are brothers.

      • ninja says:

        26LB and WW:

        Do I qualify as a member of the Fort Monmouth Gang?

        My Birth Certificate has Patterson Army Hospital listed on it.


        • 26Limabeans says:

          “Do I qualify as a member of the Fort Monmouth Gang?”

          As a natural born citizen of the place you
          can be our leader.

      • Wilted Willy says:

        Amen, I used to love that sub shop that was right outside the gate. Big old fat dego behind the counter made the best subs. I ate more there than the messhall!

  13. Martinjmpr says:

    I’m pretty sure that the government DOES distinguish between those who were “in country” and those who weren’t. For example, those who served “in country” were awarded campaign medal(s), those who did not serve “in country” did not.

    Also, service in specifically designated countries is often annotated on the DD-214 (for example, my DD-214 from my OEF mobilization clearly states I served in Afghanistan from XXXXX date to XXXX date.

    Furthermore, the Army, at least, keeps a record of those who have served in a designated combat zone on either the 2A or 2-1 (can’t remember which one, it’s the old computer-generated form that I think has now been replaced by the ERB.)

    I’m assuming other services have similar record keeping techniques but the implication by Jaqueline Paris that the US government does not “accept” the term “Vietnam veteran” is not true nor is it true that veterans of subsequent wars are characterized only be “era” without regard to where they actually served.

    Finally, common usage and common understanding of the English language should make it clear that when most people hear the term “Vietnam Veteran” they mean someone who actually served IN Vietnam.

  14. Martinjmpr says:

    On the flip side, adding (a little) support to the proposition that “Era” = “veteran”, I know that quite a few states (including Colorado, where I currently live) will issue “[name of war] Veteran” license plates to anyone who can show a DD-214 that proves they served at any time during the era of said conflict.

    So anyone with service from 1950 – 54 can claim “Korean War Veteran” license plates even if he served as a sonarman on a submarine in the Atlantic ocean.

    Anyone who served from 1961 – 1975 can claim “Vietnam Veteran” license plates even if they were a missile technician at Minot AFB in North Dakota.

    And anyone can claim a “Desert Storm” veteran plate even if he spent the whole Gulf war watching it on CNN at Fort Lewis, WA (me.)

    I’m sure the reason this is done is because the tired and overworked DMV clerks cannot be expected to be able to decipher the incomprehensible acronyms used by all the military services. They just look at the dates and if it’s genuine, they issue the plate.

    • Green Thumb says:

      What is a Veteran these days?

      90 days or some shit.

      I have seen dudes do everything to get to at least that number to qualify for discounts.

    • ArmyATC says:

      That may be true, but there are many states, such as Indiana and Ohio, where you have to have a DD-214 showing a campaign medal before getting a war veteran plate.

      • Steve 1371 says:

        Ditto Vermont. You have to submit it to the state veterans affairs office. They verify it and forward it to the DMV drones.

        • NHSparky says:

          Campaign medal or Expeditionary medal required in NH before you get property tax break, but anyone who served and got a General or Honorable Discharge can get vet plates and driver’s license.

  15. Comm Center Rat says:

    Whether a veteran earned a VSM or a NDSM it’ll still cost him about $2.69 for a large coffee at Dunkin.

  16. 26Limabeans says:

    I have the coveted NDSM so according to Jock Parie
    I served in all wars. I am the universal veteran.
    Thank me very much.

  17. thebesig says:

    The Gulf War Era Veteran versus Golf War Veteran distinction is what this guy is probably leveraging when claiming to be a Gulf War Veteran. If he served in theater, it may have been sometime in the 1990s after eligibility of the Southwest Asia Service Medal ended.

    He has even coined the term, “Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal Veteran” and “Hostile Fire Pay Veteran”:

    • ninja says:


      All I heard (and saw) was the sound of a chainsaw….🤔

      • Roh-Dog says:

        Yeah, WTactualF? Backstory?

      • thebesig says:

        That’s what he’s calling his “Red Leg Combat Team Special Issue Army Utility Knife”.

        If you want entertainment, click on the “videos” tab.

    • ArmyATC says:

      The clown is or was a fraud – don’t know if he’s still alive. He hasn’t made one of his idiotic videos in three years. He didn’t know that the term POG described anyone not a grunt, including his “red leg” self. When confronted he couldn’t tell what units he was in outside of saying he was “1st Cav.” He refused to offer a DD-214 as evidence for his service. Just look at his YouTube channel and see his asshattery. But don’t watch any of them unless you want to drop your IQ by 100 points. He’s nothing more than a moronic valor thief with a heavy emphasis on moronic.

    • Steve 1371 says:

      Thats a sissy saw.

  18. Combat Historian says:

    For whatever it’s worth, this is how I see my various wartime tours:

    -Assigned to USCENTCOM HQs at MacDill AFB right after DS and stayed there until initial phase of Somalia. Did not set foot in the Sandbox and thus did not rate the SWASM. I am NOT a DS/DS or Somalia vet…

    -Assigned to Germany as USAREUR C&C for TF Eagle, TF Hawk, and TF Falcon in the Balkans during JOINT FORGE, ALLIED FORCE, and JOINT GUARDIAN. I am NOT a Balkans vet, as I did not physically serve down there in the mud…

    -Called up for OEF, and served OCONUS in support of opns there, but did not step foot in Afghanistan AOR and did not rate the ACM. I am NOT an Afghanistan vet…

    -Called up for OIF, and spent twelve months on the ground in Iraq. I earned the ICM, and I AM an Iraq vet…

    At least that’s the way I see things…

  19. E4 Mafia '83-'87 says:

    The thing about the Vietnam War is when the war was still going on nobody wanted to go there. Now that its long since over guys (especially politicians) want to say they where there. Hmmm, provocative.

    On a side note, the Left calls DJT “bone spurs” for him not serving despite Clinton and Biden receiving also receiving deferments during Vietnam. Its better than lying “Da Nang” Dick Blumenthal.

    • A Proud Infidel®™ says:

      Hell, once “Blowjob Willie” was in Britain he penned a letter disparaging the US Military!

    • ArmyATC says:

      Yeah, and didn’t the left’s favorite old white fart, Bernie Sanders, spend some of that time in Russia with the commies?

      “Hey, Grampa? What did you do during the war?”

      “I spent it sucking the cocks of our nation’s presumed enemy.”

  20. Skyjumper says:

    If my thought process is screwed up on this, don’t smack me too hard due to the fact that I’ve been spray painting/clear coating my JD rider this morning along with copious amounts of caffeine and even had one smoke.

    According to the U.S federal law definition, VETERANS are persons that have served in any branch of the armed forces in the U.S. for a certain time frame. Some of the uniformed services are:

    Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard

    WAR VETERANS are specifically those persons who were ordered by any branch to foreign waters or soils to take part in non-direct or direct support activities against a United States enemy.

    COMBAT VETERANS, on the other hand, are those that serve in any branch and experience hostilities of any level or take part in an action of enemy combatant for certain duration as a result of friendly, defensive, or offensive fire military action that involves a perceived or real enemy in a combat proceeding.

    This also why these two medals were awarded to U.S. military personnel whom served in or within the waters/skies of Viet Nam.

    If you don’t have these two, IMHO you are an “era”vet.

    Should go the same for any war/conflict/combat situation.

    Now back to paint fumes, caffeine & nicotine. (grin)

    • Poetrooper says:

      Back when I was writing opinion pieces for various websites I used to describe my military bonafides as coming from my service as a “ground combat veteran of Vietnam” or a combat infantry veteran of Vietnam precisely to distinguish my service experiences from the many wannabee’s.

      That said, I do not demean any service member’s contribution to the mission. I recall a fellow I knew back in the 90’s who spent his entire career in the Army Veterinary Service Corps on poultry farms in the Midwest candling eggs to ensure their acceptability for Army procurement.

      I used to joke with him that his service impacted far more Army lives in a positive way than mine ever possibly could.

      • ArmyATC says:

        Candling eggs? That’s still a thing? I would have figured someone would have come up with a better way by now.

  21. 5th/77th FA says:

    Bovine excrement. I don’t give a flying fat rat’s buttocks what the “official designation” is. My feet never touched the ground in South East Asia and I will never claim to be a Vietnam Veteran. I enlisted and volunteered for said service, in the Artillery, and Thank God and Nixon, a plane load of us on our way to VN got diverted to FRG. According to my Sisters, it was more Mama’s Prayer Group’s talk with God than it was Nixon not sending us in Country 2 days before Christmas. I served, Honorably, in a Sergeant and a Lance Missile Battalion, and some time in an MI Detachment at Bragg. That does not make me a Vietnam Veteran. And delivering classified materials to Camp Mackall and eating snakes with the Green Beanies doesn’t make me Special Forces. I was awarded the NDSM (didn’t know everybody got one /s/) and the Good Cookie (that for not getting caught banging the Battery Commander’s or the Chaplain’s Wife). And yeah, both were HOT! I was put in for an ARCOM and never bothered to get the completed paperwork to S1. There was some other something or another gedunk, but I forget what it was for now. The good news was there was NO AWARD of the “I forgot to duck” Purple Heart and even better news, they didn’t give one to Mama or my bride.

    Calling oneself a VN Veteran when you weren’t there is a slap in the face to all the ones who were. Just my opinion.

  22. Jay says:

    Technically, im an OEF Vet: I got all the cool candy that came with it (OEF, NATO, and SSDR). I got my shit mounted for the ball that year, cursed because it was 2 additional medals I had to pay to get mounted….and thats about it. I didn’t consider myself a VET of ANYTHING before I went. I was somehow a contender for world “hide and seek” champion from 2001-2012. Independent duty and recruiting will do that to you. After that, I spent 5 months eating at the DFAC and smelling burning shitters. Not exactly the best way to start a “So there I was…” story. 9 times out of 10, my interactions about being in AFG go:

    “You were in Afghanistan?”
    “Cool.”/end scene.

    If some of these guys are using a deployment from 40+ years ago to define their entire LIVES…wow.

    • David says:

      And that last line is the truest and saddest part. I see guys with great careers, families, and grandkids, defining themselves by one year (to which they were drafted, kicking and screaming) like it was the acme of their life.

      • 3/17 Air Cav says:

        I was drafted, I didn’t kick and scream. But most definitely was not real happy about it. Vietnam? yes. Grunt? Yes CIB? Yes Door Gunner? Yes. Does My time in that shit hole define my life? Absolutely not.

        Back then I would have traded it all to be a Vietnam Era Troop!
        Fast forward to today. I put that twelve months of my life in the closet for decades. I drink to much, Im tired of the nightmares, the dreams of that time in Vietnam!

        I used to comment on this site frequently, I stopped because it made the nightmares more frequent.

        I’m a Vietnam Vet, god dam It! Not a Vietnam Era Vet!

        There’s a big difference! Sometimes I wish I could trade!

    • ArmyATC says:

      As people grow older they look back on their lives, some with fondness, others with regret. Military service is one of those life events for many, especially wartime service. vets look back on their service, remembering places they’ve been and people they served with. But for many, it was a defining moment in their lives. Some learned a discipline they never had before and set them up for success in life. Others were injured in some way that effected the rest of their life. I see all that in my own experiences. I served in Germany in the early 80s. That’s where I met my wife of more than 36 years. Fast forward and I found myself in Iraq for OIF 2. That’s where I earned a set of wheels to use instead of my legs. that one cost me two careers that I loved. I don’t think anyone would disagree that both are defining moments.

      The ones that truly bother me are those who use their veteran status as a cudgel in an attempt to silence others or to place themselves on a pedestal above mere civilians. I’ve seen it many times. A guy is losing an argument or debate. His immediate fallback is some variation of, “I’m a veteran! What have you done?” or “You’re just a civilian! What do you know?” As if that makes anything he says gospel that must not be refuted.

  23. Ex-PH2 says:

    What’s argument about. I ran into a Korean War USNAV veteran who was stationed at Okinawa and never got over to Korea. That doesn’t mean he isn’t a veteran
    I never set foot anywhere in Vietnam, but since I have two hitches, I just refer to my branch of service and let it go at that.
    People who are looking for glory and approval have to self-ID as “in country” rather than “era”. And there are/were plenty of WWII vets who never went to any of the war theaters, but were here in the USA during the entire thing.
    So does that make them any LESS veterans? No, it does not.
    This is just silly. If the VA wants to say “VN Era” instead of distinguishing between in-country or not, that’s their business. I do not care one way or the other.
    It’s the false claims that annoy me.

  24. timactual says:

    ” because that term has no legal standing and is a colloquialism”

    ALL words, even colloquialisms with no legal standing, have meanings. The clear meaning of “Vietnam veteran” is one who is a veteran of Vietnam just as “Vietnam era veteran” means one who served in the military during the Vietnam war.

  25. AW1Ed says:

    Since we’re all ‘fessing up, I have the Beirut Campaign Medal, a SWASM with two bronze stars, coveted NDSM, and flew in the Adriatic as a civilian during Operation Allied Force.

    I answer to “Navy Vet.”

    • Skyjumper says:

      Same here AW1Ed.

      Very proud of having had the honor of serving this country for 21 years. Don’t wear a baseball cap with bling on it ( have a full head of hair at 71 and my theory is if you wear a cap it just rubs off the hair 😉 , no bumper stickers,
      t-shirts, jackets or belt buckles, just my small “Retired Soldier For Life Pin” on my jacket.

      I answer to R–k…….or…….Sky. (grin)

      • AW1Ed says:

        My only bling is a Naval Aircrew Wings ring. Don’t really have to say much more. If it’s recognized, good. If not, so what?

    • Poetrooper says:

      Ed, I suspect there’s a bit of a difference when it comes to referring to oneself as a Vietnam vet. It’s a matter of long-held defiance of the liberal Left and their antiwar movement.

      Many of us take a certain measure of pride in knowing that we were willing to do that which most other American males of our age were seeking to avoid in spite of the unpopularity of the war ginned up by the Left and the liberal media.

      Before he died, author, Pat Conroy, (The Great Santini) admitted what I had long suspected, that in his own case and, he strongly believed, that of most other war resisters of that era, the motivation for that avoidance was not high-minded political principles but a very mundane personal cowardice.

      I am proud not to have been among that liberal lemming herd, so many of whom have since tried to claim Vietnam service.

      • AW1Ed says:

        I get the distinction, Poe.

        Conroy graduated from The Citadel, and could have had his pick of Service Commissions. He chose another route and lived to regret it. I’ll ask API to look up “sympathy” for him.

  26. Doc Savage says:

    “I think that qualifies me as a Vietnam Vet.”

    I read about Vietnam….that qualifies me as a Vietnam vet..

    • Combat Historian says:

      I have read AND wrote academic papers on Viet of the Nam. That makes me a two-tour Vietnam Vet…

  27. gitarcarver says:

    I worked on the Space Shuttle at NASA.

    That qualifies me to be both a rocket scientist and an astronaut.


  28. 26Limabeans says:

    Most people could not then nor can they now
    point to Vietnam on a map. Perhaps that should be
    the deciding acid test.

    I’m a Vietnam Vet!
    Ok, point to it on a map…..
    Hint: somewhat south of the 17th parallel.
    The what?

  29. A Proud Infidel®™ says:

    “Larry Walsh is serving as a County Commissioner in Douglas County Nevada and had claimed on his reelection website that he was a Vietnam veteran.”

    MY ASS, sounds like CYA damage control to me, and the only sympathy I have for him is what you find somewhere between “shit” and “syphilis” in a dictionary.

  30. Ret_25X says:

    All I know for certain is that when I went to the VA upon retirement, the fact that I ACTUALLY served in the suck “over there” was extremely important to them.

    The CIB, Campaign Medals, Awards, etc were the difference between PRESUMED service connection, and “prove it buddy”.

    My buds who did not ACTUALLY serve in the suck had a very different experience at the same VA in St Louis.

    I’m thinking the VA sees a definitive difference between serving during wartime and serving in the war based on how it all was handled.

    At least, that is my mileage…

  31. 26Limabeans says:

    Speaking of Vietnam Veterans, I just came back
    inside after lowering my US flag to half staff for
    my friend Scott F. Andresen. KIA at tah ninh this day.

    Each year he gets a new flag the day after my private
    ceremony at dawn. More than 50 years later it still
    hurts like hell but I will do it as long as I can.

    Scott was a real Vietnam Veteran. He died with just
    two weeks in country. So yeah, the distinction matters.

  32. Skippy says:

    What ever you do don’t tell the VA they are not Vietnam Vets they get pissed off

  33. Steve Weeks says:

    In 1969 I was minding my own business and receive a draft notice, went too Fort Jackson for boot camp, told everyday that if I did not do what I was told that I would die in Vietnam. Went too AIT as a Clerk, than to Texas as a Medal Record Spec. Than too Vietnam where they did not need my MOS. I was then order to Okinawa where I spented 14 months as a 71L20 Admin. Spec. Discharged in Calf. where I was asked too leave a Rest. because I had on my Greens. I know that I was not in country long enough too be A Vietnam Vet. but I should feel like one.

    • 26Limabeans says:

      If you smelled the stench when they cracked the hatch
      and alit down the stairs planting your feet on the
      tarmac, you get a nod from me.

  34. Keepin' It Real says:

    We few, we so happy few…

    “Defending our country and looking good on paper.” — The Service Record Book Commandos —

  35. Ken Personaluser says:

    I was drafted into the US Army 66/68.

    Spent my two years stateside.

    I have never referred to my service other than

    “Vietnam Era Veteran.”

    Vietnam veteran doesn’t seem proper to refer to my service period.

    Works for me