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Veterans include those with much experience in a specific field, and those who served in the military. Regardless of their type, veterans play an important part in American history and culture, as we will discover in this lesson.

Service and Experience

Let’s say you are at work and you have a question. Maybe it’s not answered by a handbook or any training you’ve had, and you still need help. Perhaps you might ask someone who has worked there for a long time.

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Chances are their response will help you greatly.Such a concept is one definition of a veteran, someone with much experience. It can also include those who served in the military in similar capacities, with related experiences. In this lesson, let’s ask and answer three key questions to identify veterans, relevant classifications, and their importance.

What is a Veteran?

Like you read in the introduction, the definition of a veteran includes the concept of experience.

A practical definition of a veteran is a noun that tends to refer to someone with lengthy service in a job, occupation, position, or the like. In other words, a person could be simply referred to as a veteran. It could also be applied as an adjective. For example, a new electrician might refer to his colleague with 25 years of experience as a ‘veteran electrician.’ Or, a baseball broadcaster might call a player who has played second base for many years a ‘veteran infielder’.

Younger workers can learn from experienced veteran workers
Electrical Lineman

But wait, you might be thinking, aren’t we forgetting about those in the military? Aren’t they veterans as well? Of course! They are collectively referred to as military veterans. Their service in the military and role in society are vital parts of American culture.

What are some different Veteran Classifications?

Anyone who served at any time in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard is a veteran. This applies to those who served either in times of peace or in times of war, those who were in active combat fighting zones, or those who served on the home front.A sub-designation of a veteran could also be a war veteran, one who served during a war against an enemy, in any capacity. For example, anyone in the military during World War II or the Vietnam War is included in this sub-group.

Whether or not they saw fighting is irrelevant; thus, this includes those who served in rear or support capacities.Another sub-group is combat veteran. This applies to those war veterans who served during a war and also faced combat against the enemy of that war. For example, those men who took part in the D-Day Invasion of France, one of WWII’s most famous battles, would be in this subset.

Combat veterans are one sub-type of military veterans
Combat Veterans

Let’s use an example to help illustrate these points.

Joe was enlisted in the U.S. Army from 1967-1970. He completed basic training, then was sent to Vietnam. During his time overseas, he participated in street-level fighting during the Battle of Hue (hwe).

After this battle, Joe was sent to assist with supply services to front-line troops in an area where there was no fighting.From this scenario, we can identify Joe as the following:Military Veteran: served in the U.S. ArmyWar Veteran: served in the Vietnam War in both fighting and support capacitiesCombat Veteran: was part of the fighting in the Battle of HueAs an exception, National Guard or military reserve members are only classified as veterans if they were called into active duty.

If only serving as reservists or completing yearly mandated training, they are not considered veterans.

What is the Importance of Veterans?

There are many reasons that veterans are important. Getting back to the definition of those with lengthy service in a profession or field, their experience is invaluable. What they have seen, done, learned, and accomplished in their lengthy careers is vital to the success of not only that field of work, but to those coming up through the ranks trying to learn as well.

Think about experienced individuals you’ve potentially learned from. Would you be as educated or able to do certain tasks without them as a resource?

Veterans are celebrated during Veterans Day

Military veterans are important as well. Their experiences in both war and peace can teach us valuable lessons about history, sacrifice, service, and the gift of freedom we enjoy in the United States.

Their insights into major world events and conflicts are some of the best primary sources where we can learn about our past. Such experiences can also hopefully teach us as we move into the future. We celebrate their service on Veteran’s Day (November 11th) each year. We also honor those who gave their lives in service, who never had the chance to be veterans after their conflicts, on Memorial Day.

Lesson Summary

In the United States, we recognize veterans as those with relevant and lengthy experience in a specific field or occupation. This term also applies to those with military service. Within the military, there are sub-sets of veterans, such as war veteran, those who served during a war, and combat veteran, those who actively fought the enemy. Regardless of type, they are important because their experiences and expertise greatly add to our country’s wisdom, and ability to learn from the past, succeed in the present, and achieve into the future.

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