Monday, May 11, 2009

American Cold War Veterans, a VSO Met In Washington, DC

The American Cold War Veterans gathered from across the nation in Washington, DC on April 30Th and May 1st.

April 30Th members of the Veterans Service Organization met with Congressional staff members to discuss proper recognition for Cold War Veterans. All the veterans report
that the staff members were courteous and understanding, seemed to realize our urgency.

Among the topics discussed were a Cold War Victory/Service Medal to honor the ignored and most misunderstood America's Longest War, The Cold War.

Another topic was "equality for all veterans". Many Cold War Veterans are denied care at VA hospitals or clinics.The Cold War was an undeclared battle against Communism that lasted 46 years. Since it was not recognized as a "war period" we are ineligible for many benefits.

Cold War Veterans are often told they are not "real veterans". Other comments we hear are "you were not shot at", or "you just showed up and did a job."

As the revisionists rewrite history, the Cold War is being relegated to the dust bin. People seem to forget the threat and fear of nuclear war. Fallout shelters, air raid drill, drop and cover, tune your radio to a Conalrad station are no longer on the public mind.

But, the brave and dedicated men and women who served in the military during that era do not forget. We who lived with that threat and feared the possibilities, who worked with and around nuclear weapons know it was real.

Those who were on the ground manning the front line, in SAC bombers, aboard ships and submarines with "prime rounds", in missile silos, at our bases around the globe want the world to remember. Stop and reflect on what might have happened if not for our military.

The stress was real and palpable, knowing that you were responsible, that just one push on a button could create"Nuclear Winter"; along with the deaths of millions of people. This
is something not easily dismissed nor forgotten. The ghosts live on in our minds.

For security reasons most of what took place was done in darkness and it was done in secret.
Things many of us can not talk about even today. The general public was unaware then, and
they remain unaware to this day.

For these reasons we hold our yearly meeting in Washington, DC; over a two day period.
This year the group hosted a Congressional Breakfast on the morning of May 1, in the Hart
Senate Office Building.

During the breakfast several members were presented the Army Freedom Team Salute, which includes a certificate and letter off thanks signed by the Army Chief of Staff and the Secretary of the Army. I received this award myself, it was quite a surprise and a very special honor for
a Navy veteran like myself. I was told I was in the Army for the day.

Following the breakfast a ceremony was held at Arlington National Cemetery to honor "The Forgotten Heroes Of The Cold War." This included short speeches,a color guard and bugler playing Taps. A bell was rung21 times to simulate a 21 gun salute.

After the ceremony several small groups were formed to place flowers, with military honors, on the graves of some of these Forgotten fallen heroes. A slight rain was falling during the proceedings, it seemed like a fitting tribute; angels sending a gentle mist to mix with the
tears in our eyes.

Afterwards visits were made to the Vietnam Memorial,Korean War Memorial, The Tomb Of The Unknown and other memorials in the area.

Now we ask that everyone please contact your elected officials in Washington; ask them to introduce or be a cosponsor for legislation to authorize and direct the Department of Defense to issue a Cold War Victory/Service medal to all who served honorably during the Cold War.

Let us give these veterans the respect and honor they earned and deserve. Now is the time for our country to honor the promises made when we joined the military.

We will not be ignored any longer. Do not let history forget. We stood up for our country,
now let our country stand up for us, and all veterans of every era.

Jerald Terwilliger
National Vice Chairman
American Cold War Veterans
"We Remember"