Magazine article VFW Magazine

You Are a Veteran-In or out of Uniform

Magazine article VFW Magazine

You Are a Veteran-In or out of Uniform

Article excerpt

If someone is on active duty in Afghanistan or Iraq, he or she is eligible for VFW. Let's get the message out to these veterans.

"All of my friends I was in the Army with don't consider themselves veterans," an Afghanistan vet recently told a newspaper reporter. "I'm so young, I don't consider myself a veteran."

Here is another exampie. After joining a VFW Post in Illinois, this is what a 21-year-old who served with the Illinois National Guard in Iraq had to say. "I don't even look at myself as a veteran," he told the Associated Press. "It wasn't like Vietnam or World War II. I have nothing but respect for what they [vets of those wars] sacrificed."

These unfortunate and misinformed notions are far too prevalent among today's young veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq. Age and current military status have no bearing on VFW eligibility. VFW membership should not be confused with the definition of a veteran as it pertains to requirements for VA benefits.

The Encyclopedia Britannica defines a military veteran as "a person who has completed a term of service in the armed forces and returned to civilian life." While this has been the commonly held view, especially in the era of the draft, it is not necessarily accurate. The latter part of that statement dearly does not apply to VFW membership qualifications.

In fact, VFW has long admitted personnel on active duty, and today that includes mobilized members of the National Guard and Reserves.

Let me relate this story from our organizational annals. …

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