S.743 is a bill introduced on March 16, 2015 by Senator John Boozman. Its title is the Honor America’s Guard-Reserve Retirees Act of 2015. Its true meaning is to recognize as a veteran, “any person who is entitled to retired pay for non-regular service (reserve).” The entirety of the bill is comprised onto one page and amends title 38 of the United States Code. This seemingly small change does make a very large difference on both sides of the table.
Under title 38 of the United States Code, a veteran is defined as “a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service, and who was discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable.” Active duty is further defined as full-time service, and does not include active duty for training, which the National Guard and reserve Annual Training falls under.
Over the last few years, this issue has come up repeatedly as retiring reservists and National Guard members who have never been deployed or called up to active service are surprised that they cannot claim veteran status. This effects job applications and, generally speaking, what they feel is a sense of worth for their service to their country.
S.743 has sat at the Senate for months, and has been referred to the Committee on Veteran’s Affairs. It is likely to fail, even though it states that those identified for veteran status under it will not be entitled to any benefits. In other words, it is simply a feel good bill. So why should it even matter?
From the active duty perspective, service members have given up long periods of their lives to serve their country. They have moved repeatedly, started and stopped school for children, jobs for spouses, and lost and started over their networks around the world. When they claim veteran status, it affords them certain benefits on job applications, hiring preferences, or simply recognition.
When National Guard and reserve members who have never been activated seek to claim this status, they are missing this key element. Except for an annual training once a year, or drill – neither of which counts as active duty, they are able to live in one place, maintain residency, jobs, and continuity for themselves and family. They are providing a service to their country, but if they are not activated for an excess of 180 days, such as a deployment, this does not warrant the title of veteran.
This does not discredit their service, nor does it diminish their contribution, but is simply how the word is defined. Attempts to change it are purely for the feel good satisfaction and as such, fall under the category of ‘everyone gets a trophy.’ Instead of focusing attention on making people feel better about themselves, if the government wants to focus attention on this subject, the government then should seek laws that actually make a difference in the lives of the people it affects. The amount of energy dedicated to this law will result in no change for service members.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.