During the 2014 election campaign, new Iowa Junior Senator Joni Ernst claimed to be a “combat veteran”. I was skeptical about this claim, but I did not serve in Iraq or Afghanistan. But I do know what the term means to me.
To me, if you claim to be a “combat veteran” is means that you were actually in combat. You were in a firefight with the enemy.
It has come to light that Senator Ernst was in the “theater” and lead an Iowa Army National Guard transportation unit. Her “combat” was in Kuwait and the edges of Iraq in 2003-2004. Note: President George HW Bush designated the while Arabian Peninsula a “Combat Zone”.
This really makes me angry. I served 13 ½ months in Viet Nam. Over half of that time in an infantry unit as a Chaplain Assistant. I drove unsecured roads without escort. I lived in fire support bases with an infantry company. But, since I did not see actual combat (no CIB) the VA refuses to accept that I could have PTSD.
I have a friend that spent his tour in Viet Nam running a coffee house on Long Binh Post. By Joni's definition, he can claim being a “combat veteran”. She claims that she never claimed to be in combat, but her error in omission leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. If she claimed that she served in Kuwait during the gulf wars, OK. But the claim being a “combat veteran” is over the top.