The guns may have gone silent on 11 November, 1918, to signal the end of the war to end all wars, but clearly they have not been silent for the intervening 95 years. Throughout that long history, citizen soldiers have shed their civilian clothes for the cloth of this country, serving in every conflict and standing ready in times of peace and international tension.
This year, as the so-called “long wars” of the Global War of Terrorism wind to a presumed close in 2014, it’s fitting to reflect on the service of more than 880,000 members of all services of the Reserve Force. They have sacrificed job and family, home and health to stand on the desert ramparts against a persistent global foe. More than 330,000 of them deployed more than once. In the current national defense strategy than can expect to continue as an operational reserve force activating and deploying one year in six to fill the international commitments of our nation
They join a long line of citizen warriors in service, not the least of whom are those Reservists who served in the Cold War as a strategic deterrent against Soviet aggression. They drilled once a month on weekends, attended numerous training and planning meetings often with no pay, spent two weeks at annual training, maintained their military proficiency and stood ready for a call to prospective world war that, thankfully, never came. Their presence as that strategic reserve, however, was instrumental in America and freedom prevailing against communism and tyranny.
One of the failures of this nation has been our hesitance to publically honor these Cold War Warriors. In fact, for official federal purposes, if they did not serve for 180 consecutive days on active duty they are not considered “veterans.” The Reserve Officers Association is fighting hard to right that wrong. We have taken the lead in advocating passage of legislation that will grant official veteran status to that class of Reservists whom have served 20 or more years, retired with full honors, medals, certificates and flags, but are not considered veterans for official purposes. We estimate that more than 300,000 honorable veteran citizen warriors fall into that category.
At ROA’s urging, House Bill 1405, “Honor America’s Guard-Reserve Retirees Act,” passed the House on October 28 of this year. That bill grants veteran status to all honorably retired Reservists. It states, a retired Reservist “entitled under such chapter to retired pay for non-regular service shall be honored as a veteran...” A Senate version, S.29, has been stalled but might go to the floor with less direct language as part of an omnibus bill. Your association continues to push hard for speedy passage of the stronger bill.
So, on this Veterans Day 2013, the Reserve Officers Association renders a collective, crisp hand salute to all veterans, to those who have answered the call to service, who sacrificed much, gave of their blood and treasure, and to their families who stood beside them. We honor you.