Magazine article VFW Magazine

Recognizing Cold War Service

Magazine article VFW Magazine

Recognizing Cold War Service

Article excerpt

An estimated 22 million veterans and former federal employees are eligible for the Cold War Recognition Certificate.

Approved in 1998, the Cold War Recognition Certificate was created as a substitute for an actual medal. This decision was and remains controversial among many veterans, although the certificate has proved popular. To date, 728,312 certificates have been printed and mailed. Some 1,265 are pending.

Proponents of the certificate and existing medals (primarily the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal) argue that virtually all Cold War operations are already covered. Though it is true that the AFEM was conceived to recognize such military missions, it was made retroactive only back to 1958.

This allowed major categories of Cold War veterans to fall through various medals' eligibility cracks. For example, all the GIs who served in armored cavalry regiments along the Iron Curtain in Germany from May 1955 (when the Army of Occupation Medal ended) to December 1991 were excluded.

Secrecy was another element not considered. Crews who flew classified and highly hazardous aerial reconnaissance missions along Communist borders from 1946 into the 1970s also were ineligible.

Advocates of a medal believe these and all other veterans (especially those stationed overseas) of the era rate a medal. Since the Department of Defense disagrees, any movement in this regard will be up to Congress to rectify, which is not likely soon.

(VFW Resolution 471, passed in 2003, calls for Congress to authorize a Cold War Foreign Service Medal for overseas duty between Sept. …

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