What makes a Veteran?

I had my eyes opened today.

After Krav I said Happy Veteran’s Day to one of my team mates. I had seen him from time to time come into the dojo in his Navy Uniform. So of course, on this day it felt right to say..

He smiled and said, “Oh you too!”

I cocked my head a little and l laughed. “I’m not a veteran.”

“Well neither am I” he answered,

“So who’s uniform you’ve been wearing then???”


That led to a further discussion on just what exactly IS a veteran. We all have specific definitions in our head but they are drastically different depending on the person..

And that’s ironic me growing up and living my entire life within the military community..

So here’s some of the definitions I got at the dojo:

Mine: Served a bit in any branch of the US military. You can still be currently active within the military. You don’t necessarily have to have been in combat.

Friend from above: Have to have served a tour in a combat zone and then be honorably discharged…(Dear Facebook friends, especially the ones who have blasting the internet with pics of your hubby still in active duty…. you are pissing this guy off..)

A third opinion was different from mine and my friend’s: someone who was retirement age that had served in a war.. (so the people from the wars we’ve been in for 12 years won’t be veterans until they are of retirement age..but feel free to keep using VA benefits before you’re an actual veteran 😉 )

So it led me on a wild search for a reliable definition of what the US truly defines a veteran..

I got ZIP.. Other than more opinionated answers on yahoo answers


Well that’s a lie.. I got a non descript answer from the dictionary:


noun \ˈve-tə-rən, ˈve-trən\

: someone who fought in a war as a soldier, sailor, etc.

: someone who has a lot of experience in a particular activity, job, etc.

~ Thanks for helping me internet.. I thought you were supposed to have all the answers!

So I’m curious now and already compiling a list of definitions from my friends on facebook.. So far I have:

I know to get benefits you have to have served a certain length of time however I dont know if they actually have a legal type description to it. Thats’s a good question.

I think it’s a person who chose to fight for their country by signing on the dotted line, taking the Oath when they joined and honorably fulfilled their contract with their branch, regardless of time served. I don’t consider a dishonorable discharge honorably fulfilling their contract. (This one comes from a veteran)

I can say this. My husband has served with the US NAVY since 2011. He has been to combat zones and a handful of deployments. He has missed birthdays and holidays and one or  more of every single special occasion that has graced our family. He’s had to sit helpless as situations happened at home that he couldn’t help out with. He’s had to witness the majority of his son growing up from the emails I send hundreds of miles away beneath the ocean. He was honorably discharged twice with the US NAVY to be re-enlisted seconds later.

So if I can’t find a proper definition of what makes a veteran, I’ll just continue to watch my husband live out the definition in the only way a veteran can.

For those who have served, thank you.

What is your definition?


5 thoughts on “What makes a Veteran?

  1. ‘Served a bit in any branch of the US military. You can still be currently active within the military. You don’t necessarily have to have been in combat.’ and ‘I don’t consider a dishonorable discharge honorably fulfilling their contract.’

    Pretty much sums up my thoughts. Anyone who signs up knows that there’s a chance that they might see combat; that that is what they are training for. To still sign that contract and go on takes the same about of bravery, regardless of whether or not they’ve actually had to be in combat. Further more, as you mentioned, just the routine training and deployments are hard on the soldiers and their families. To weather that and still carry on takes a strength far greater than simply being sent into a combat zone. (Not that I’m discounting people who have seen combat, but I think some people under estimate how hard it is simply to be away.

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