Monday, June 16, 2014


As our nation works its way through the VA flap, questions about “levels of service” will likely become more important. After all, who should be entitled to free VA medical care? We like to call all our veterans heroes, but it seems obvious to me (and yes, I’m a vet) that the service of some of our vets is demonstrably “more heroic” than that of others. So what levels of service should entitle a vet to free medical care for life?

Certainly, men and women permanently disabled by wounds incurred or diseases contracted while serving in a combat zone.

Certainly, men and women awarded Medals of Honor, Silver and Bronze Stars, and other awards presented specifically for heroism under fire.

Certainly, men and women held prisoner by the enemy (although the Bowe Bergdahl situation makes this assumption seem less of a “sure thing”).

You might say, what about vets awarded a Purple Heart? Well, that depends—did he get it for a gunshot wound, or for a cut received while opening a C-ration can?

What about the 4 million WWII vets who never left the continental U.S.? Are they entitled to all the benefits earned by a vet who lost a leg at Iwo Jima or Anzio?

And what about a man or woman who sat at a desk in an air-conditioned office in Saigon during his/her entire tour in ‘Nam? These folks certainly served in a “combat zone”, but would likely have been in greater danger serving in a recruiting office in Detroit or East St. Louis. Do they deserve exactly the same benefits as a combat medic or helicopter door gunner?

You see, there really are differing “levels of service,” and it will be easier to resolve the VA flap if that fact is recognized by all the players involved.

What do you think?

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