Often when people, Veterans included, think about the word Veteran, the vision they have is that of the Veteran that has experienced armed combat first hand on the field of battle. Non-combat Veterans are often overlooked and sometimes do not even consider themselves "Veterans" because they did not go to war.
The fact is that they are Veterans and did their part in keeping our nation free during time of peace serving as a deterrent for aggression. A line from the Infantryman's Creed that outlines this very well reads, "I am my country's strength in war, her deterrent in peace."
The weathered Infantryman with the Combat Infantryman Badge, the cold war Sailor with his Submarine Warfare Insignia, the Airmen that never left the United States during her four years of service and the Marine that had embassy duty in Spain are all Veterans, all fulfilling a vital mission. Veterans — whether pressed in to service by the draft or voluntarily enlisted into the armed services — swore an oath to the Nation and by taking that oath agreed to follow the United States Military Code of Conduct.
Article 1 of the Code of Conduct always had a particular impact on me. It currently reads, "I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense." That is a lot to give, after all, life is all you have and all you are ever going to get, and it is as fragile as it is precious.
Another thing they share is having had a job that you cannot quit without facing stiff penalties ranging from paying back bonuses, jail time and up to having your life taken from you. Desertion in time of war still carries the death penalty.
Veterans Day 2011 is upon us as a nation, but for the nation's Veterans everyday is Veterans Day.