Friday, January 9, 2009

The Wait Goes On For Veterans

How long is too long to await recognition? Is it five years? Ten years? Or even longer as it has been for our veterans.

This year marks the twentith anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, the seventeenth anniversary of the end of the Soviet Union, and still no medal for the heroes of the Cold War.

The brave men and women who for 46 years stood the line and held fast against larger forces with more equipment. The threat was real, those who lived it understood that any drill they participated in could bethe real thing. This time the SAC planes might drop their bombs; or the missile silo might actually fire a live missile toward the Soviets.

The U.S. Navy with ships at sea and submarines beneath the waters, the Air Force with planes in the sky, Army and Marine units on the ground; all manned twenty four hours a day. The men and women who were statside or elsewhere around the world in support positions, ready to keep the front lines active and supplied.

No one in the military doubted that it was possible at any moment for nuclear war to start, and once it started the only end might be the end of mankind as we know it. To some the stress was unbearable, and the feelings do not go away when your enlistment is over.

Presidents have called it a war, claiming victory for the United States and our allies. Saying we defeated the Soviets at their own game, we out classed them, out lasted them.

The backyard or basement fallout shelters are forgotten, many of the military bases have been closed. Even though some of the missile silos are still in place, vacant and rusting; but still there.

Now our military is facing much more lethal fighting, Iraq, Afganastan, possibly Iran; and who know what the next crisis will be. We understand the problems, the fear and uncertainity.

The American Cold War Veterans are only asking for remembrance, recognition and a little honor. All the men and women who were part of the Cold War wonder when will it happen.

Our national leaders madea great deal of mentioning the Cold War during the last few months. A few even went so far as to say they would be in favor of a Cold War Victory(Service) Medal.

Thus we are left to wonder: will this be the year? Congress has tried in the past to authorize a medal but to date nothing has been accomplished. Last year Senator Clinton, as she has in past years, introduced a bill that would authorize a medal. That bill never made it out of the Senate Armed Services Committee. There was a provision for a medal in the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act 2009, but it was taken out during the joint committee meetings.

So we are asking that each and every one of you, now while the 111th Congress is still new and getting organized; please take the time to contact your elected officials. Ask them to introduce legislation that would authorize and DIRECT DOD to issue a Cold War Victory/Service Medal to all those whoserved honorably from Sept. 1945 to Dec. 1991.

The Department of Defense is sure to object, they are using figures possibly picked out of a hat. Numbers that are entirely to high. Look at the Korean Defense Service Medal, DOD only purchased about 200.000(and some of those are still being handed out for current duty). Another objection is duplication of awards,which again is an untruth. Far too many of our military completed their tour of duty and received no awards of any type.

Contact your Senators and Representatives early and often. Tell them our veterans have waited too long, and now is the time to give them some small honor. Also contact President Obama ask him to issue a medal by executive order (he can do that).

All of our contry's veterans will thank you and be grateful that we are finally remembered.

Jerald Terwilliger
National Vice Chairman/TreasurerAmerican Cold War Veterans
"We Remember"