Update showing emails between myself and the VA
about this subject
(To read and or read the emails click here)
To all the Men and Women in the U.S. Armed Forces
(Vietnam is used for this example but it also
applies to all conflicts since Vietnam)
The question is this; why
did the VA (Department of Veterans Affairs) blur the
line between combat solders and the support troops
that werenít in Vietnam? All the VA had to do was
to delineate back in 1982 by having the Headstone
say Vietnam or Vietnam Era. Now for 33 years people
donít know by looking at a Headstone if a person was
actually in a Theater of Operations or elsewhere.
This change was done by Paul Bannai the Chief
Memorial Affairs Director in December of 1982.
Below in red is the key to
the inscription change that affects all members of
the Armed Forces to this day.
VA Manual, M40-3 dated
December 1, 1982, Chapter 5: Inscriptions, 5(g)(1);
War Service (one or more) will be determined from
any active duty military service performing within
the periods shown (decedent
need not need not have served in the Theater of
Operations related to the war service, e.g., Korea,
Vietnam) is still in effect today December
10, 2015. This according to the Acting Director of
Memorial Programs Service (41B), National Cemetery
Under the VA Form 40-1330
the following are eligible Ė Any deceased Veteran
discharged under honorable conditions and served
before September 7, 1980. After that date you have
to be in the service at least 24 continues months.
What this means is that any Armed Forces personal who
was in the service during a time of conflict are
eligible to have the same inscription on the
Headstone whether in the Theater of Operation or
not. The party line for the VA is we did that to
honor all men and women. Why not show who was there
and who wasnít? This takes away from the men and
women who were there and that is wrong.
I was looking for the perfect example of this online
when I thought wait a minute. I visited Rod
Serlingís Grave November 11, 2014. Look at his
Headstone that I have attached. It states Rank, Arm
of Service which is the U.S. Army and World War II.
This is a man who was in the 511th Prcht
Inf, 11th Abn Div, Hq & Hq Co as a Radio
Operator. This is a man who had two combat jumps in
the Pacific and after WWII for the rest of his life
(short life) had severe PTSD. This is the reason
the Twilight Zone existed because of his experiences
This means that someone who didnít make it through
basic training but received an Honorable Discharge
(Medical usually) is entitled to
the same Headstone as Rod Serling and all the others
Veterans who were there. Is the fair? No.
It is time to reexamine this policy. When this
policy was introduced back in December of 1982 it
seems someone wanted that change because this person
at the time werenít eligible to have either WWII,
Korea or Vietnam conflict on their Headstone. Most
likely it was a Politician who put pressure on the
VA to change this.
The really odd part of the Vietnam Conflict is this,
between February 28, 1961 and August 5, 1964 only
the U.S. Armed Forces who were in Vietnam are
allowed to have Vietnam on there Headstones. From
August 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975 anyone in the Armed
Forces can have the Vietnam Inscription.
For the Armed Forces who were not in the Theater of
Operation why canít it say the Headstone thusly,
Vietnam Era. This would delineate between being
there and being a supporting unit not in Vietnam?
This applies to WWII, Korea and the conflicts now as
well. If this practice isnít changed it means that
we can never be sure if a person was in harms way or
Yes the work that was done behind the lines was
vitally important but still not the same as being
shot at day in and day out. The word Era would be
the best way to correct this issue.
Isnít it time for this to be corrected? In the VA
Database that could be done in a few weeks at most.
For the ones who werenít in the Theater of Operation
something along the lines of a Rosette affixed to
the Era soldiers for the ones already in the
Can we imagine for even a second if the Super Bowl
winner has the team, the front office people and the
food/beer vendors being inscribed that way? Of
course not, if someone was a member of a team that
wins the Super Bowl only the Coaches and Players
are inscribed on the Lombardi Trophy. The
supporting staff would receive a Ring and usually a
bonus as well which is like the Era being listed to
Service men and women who were not in the Theater of
Yet in our country people arenít bothered by the
fact that this exact situation is occurring in the
Armed Forces as most people donít know about this it
seems. We might as well combine the Veteranís of
Foreign Wars and American Legion too correct? The
whole point of the Headstone before 1982 inscription
change was to honor the men and women who were in
the Theater of Operations.
(Attached is the relevant
December 10, 2015