AskDefine | Define veterans

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Plural of veteran



  1. indefinite singular genitive of veteran

Extensive Definition

A veteran (from Latin vetus, meaning "old") is a person who is experienced in a particular area, and is particularly used in Russia, Canada and the United States to refer to people with experience in the armed forces or law enforcement.
The most common usage is for former armed services personnel. A veteran is one who has served in the armed forces, but usually not someone who had a dishonorable discharge. It is especially applied to those who served for an entire career, usually of 20 years or more, but may be applied for someone who has only served one tour of duty.
A common misconception is that one had to have either been in combat and/or has retired from active duty to be called a military veteran. Because of this widely held misconception, women have sometime excluded themselves from veterans groups or benefits, despite military service. Each state (of the United States) sets specific criteria for state-specific veterans benefits. For federal medical benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals, prior to Sept. 7, 1980 the veteran must have served at least 180 days of active duty, after the above-mentioned date, the veteran must have served at least 24 months. However, if the veteran was medically discharged and receives a VA service-connected disability stipend, the time limits are not applicable.
For most of history there were no fixed standing armies. Almost all warriors were militia, usually farmers for the bulk of the year, who thus had a secondary occupation to support them during times of peace. The first state to face significant veterans' affairs problems was the Roman Empire, whose professional army of career soldiers needed some new role when they retired. They were usually given land in the newly conquered locales, and the need for such lands motivated the empire's expansion. They could also voluntarily enlist again at the invitation of the consul or other commander as evocati.
Beyond giving veterans free or discounted lands in colonies, governments did little about them. There was little or no aid for veterans suffering mental or physical disabilities, and those wounded in war often had to turn to begging or crime.
Abraham Lincoln famously called for good treatment of those who have borne the battle, and their widows and infants. The American Civil War produced veterans organizations, such as the Grand Army of the Republic. The treatment of veterans changed after the First World War. In the years following, discontented veterans became a source of instability. They could quickly organize, had links to the army, and often had arms themselves. Veterans played a central role in the post-World War I instability of Germany, while in the United States, the Bonus Army of unemployed veterans was one of the most important protest movements of the Great Depression, marching on Washington, DC to get a claimed bonus that Congress had promised them.
After the Second World War, in part due to the experience of the First World War, most of the participating states set up elaborate veterans' administrations. Within the United States, it was veterans groups like the American Legion and VFW that pushed for and got the G.I. Bill enacted. These gave war heros access to free or subsidized education and health care. The newly educated GIs created a significant economic impact, and with the aid of VA loans were able to buy housing and establish themselves as part of a growing American middle class. The explosion of the suburbs created sufficient housing for veterans and their families. In the United States, black veterans continued to be denied equality at home despite President Truman's desegregation of the military during World War II. Black veterans went on to play a central role in the Civil Rights movement.
For the most part, veterans are treated with great respect in society. In Russia, a tradition was established after the second world war, where newly married couples would on their wedding day visit a military cemetery. In France, for instance, those wounded in war are given the first claim on any seat on public transit. Most countries have a holiday such as Remembrance Day to honour veterans, along with the war dead. There are exceptions to this: veterans of unpopular conflicts, such as the Vietnam War, have been discriminated against. Others, such as veterans of minor conflicts like the Korean War, are often forgotten when compared with those who fought in the World Wars.
Women have served in the United States military for over two hundred years, often having had to disguise themselves as men. Female veterans have often been discriminated against by their male counterparts and, as such, women who have served in the armed forces have sometimes been known as "the invisible veterans". Women were not fully recognized as veterans until after WWII, and prior to this they were not eligible for VA benefits. The VA estimates that by the year 2010 women will make up 10% of the veteran population. A tri-state (Washington, Idaho Oregon) women veterans conference in Pendleton Oregon. In April 2008 attracted 362 women veterans, according to the East Oregonian newspaper.
Many veterans' groups are politically active. They may appear in the media or hold rallies and protests. Issues may include improved benefits for veterans and support for or opposition to pacifist movements.


veterans in German: Veteran
veterans in Spanish: Veterano
veterans in French: Vétéran
veterans in Dutch: Veteraan
veterans in Japanese: 退役軍人
veterans in Polish: Weteran
veterans in Finnish: Veteraani
veterans in Swedish: Krigsveteran
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