The Cold War Victory Medal

Our safety depends on the bravery and willingness to endure hardship freely volunteered by our military warriors. They put their lives on the line for little pay because they think America is worth protecting. They are part of a valiant American tradition that links Continental Army veterans to those who defend us now and in the future.

Our troops know that the conflict they fight will be long and will have multiple fronts. Unfortunately, Congress has just snubbed the veterans of our previous multi-generational, multi-front war. Is this a message we really want to send? 

America fought and won a 45 year war with communism, but has never honored those who achieved the victory through their military service between 1946 and 1991. Prompted by efforts of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion, funding for a Cold War Victory Medal was provided in Sec.556 of the National Defense Authorization Bill. But Sec.566 was stripped it because Congress decided there was no money, just weeks before it began consideration of a questionable $150-billion economic "stimulus" bill. Honor may be the most precious thing we can possess, but conveying it to those who deserve it in medal form does not seriously affect spending.

This medal is important to many Cold War Era veterans because it is the first such award that recognizes that the Korean and Vietnam wars were not unrelated actions but, like dozens of smaller flare-ups along the Iron Curtain, the Berlin Wall, the Korean DMZ and other areas were part of a united 45-year fight against Communism.

Many who served during that period, including airmen flying long range bomber patrols or manning remote radar stations, submariners who were gone from port on dangerous patrols for months at a time, and soldiers who patrolled and skirmished at the Korean Demilitarized Zone or Berlin Wall, got little to no recognition for their service.

Americans from all branches of the armed forces served far from home and family, keeping up the pressure on the Soviet Union, China and other countries where Communism was implanted. To finally recognize their service and sacrifices is to give these veterans the one thing that the Veterans Administration can't - pride in and evidence of their contributions to the ultimate victory.

Therein lies an opportunity for Gov. Mitt Romney, should he choose to take it.

Romney, simply by joining the call for this long-overdue medal, can show his support for the armed forces, and simultaneously draw attention to the fact that it has not passed Congress even with McCain on site as one of the country's most influential Senators.

Senator John McCain does not own the military or veteran vote. Military voters may be overwhelmingly conservative, and vote Republican, but there the stereotype ends. The military is as diverse as any other organization and McCain can't automatically assume he will wrap up that voter segment simply because of shared service.

In fact, it did not become law even though it was passed in the House by a vote of 397 in favor, 27 against. That number alone creates an opening to ask McCain why the bill has languished in Congress when so many veterans rightly deserve it.

By comparison, Congress previously has authorized medals for Humanitarian Service, War On Terror Service, Sea Service Deployment, Iraq Service, and Afghanistan Service, but they deny millions of vets the Cold War Victory Medal. It may be understandable that left-leaning Democrats who give lip service to supporting the troops, are opposed to anything that would draw attention to America's victory over the Communists, but why haven't Congressional Republicans made this an issue?

Nonetheless, the major service organizations, representing millions of veterans, are pressuring Congress to pass this bill, and private efforts can found at the Cold War Victory Medal website. (see also this) That Congress would deny this honor for millions of veterans for financial reasons is nothing short of hypocritical.

America authorized a World War II victory medal to returning troops, regardless of where they served. The country owes no less to the brave men and women of the following generations who sacrificed, struggled, and in some cases fought and died, to win a different kind of war to keep America free.
 
Melanie Morgan is a talk show host on KSFO radio, San Francisco, and Chairman, Move America Forward
Our safety depends on the bravery and willingness to endure hardship freely volunteered by our military warriors. They put their lives on the line for little pay because they think America is worth protecting. They are part of a valiant American tradition that links Continental Army veterans to those who defend us now and in the future.

Our troops know that the conflict they fight will be long and will have multiple fronts. Unfortunately, Congress has just snubbed the veterans of our previous multi-generational, multi-front war. Is this a message we really want to send? 

America fought and won a 45 year war with communism, but has never honored those who achieved the victory through their military service between 1946 and 1991. Prompted by efforts of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion, funding for a Cold War Victory Medal was provided in Sec.556 of the National Defense Authorization Bill. But Sec.566 was stripped it because Congress decided there was no money, just weeks before it began consideration of a questionable $150-billion economic "stimulus" bill. Honor may be the most precious thing we can possess, but conveying it to those who deserve it in medal form does not seriously affect spending.

This medal is important to many Cold War Era veterans because it is the first such award that recognizes that the Korean and Vietnam wars were not unrelated actions but, like dozens of smaller flare-ups along the Iron Curtain, the Berlin Wall, the Korean DMZ and other areas were part of a united 45-year fight against Communism.

Many who served during that period, including airmen flying long range bomber patrols or manning remote radar stations, submariners who were gone from port on dangerous patrols for months at a time, and soldiers who patrolled and skirmished at the Korean Demilitarized Zone or Berlin Wall, got little to no recognition for their service.

Americans from all branches of the armed forces served far from home and family, keeping up the pressure on the Soviet Union, China and other countries where Communism was implanted. To finally recognize their service and sacrifices is to give these veterans the one thing that the Veterans Administration can't - pride in and evidence of their contributions to the ultimate victory.

Therein lies an opportunity for Gov. Mitt Romney, should he choose to take it.

Romney, simply by joining the call for this long-overdue medal, can show his support for the armed forces, and simultaneously draw attention to the fact that it has not passed Congress even with McCain on site as one of the country's most influential Senators.

Senator John McCain does not own the military or veteran vote. Military voters may be overwhelmingly conservative, and vote Republican, but there the stereotype ends. The military is as diverse as any other organization and McCain can't automatically assume he will wrap up that voter segment simply because of shared service.

In fact, it did not become law even though it was passed in the House by a vote of 397 in favor, 27 against. That number alone creates an opening to ask McCain why the bill has languished in Congress when so many veterans rightly deserve it.

By comparison, Congress previously has authorized medals for Humanitarian Service, War On Terror Service, Sea Service Deployment, Iraq Service, and Afghanistan Service, but they deny millions of vets the Cold War Victory Medal. It may be understandable that left-leaning Democrats who give lip service to supporting the troops, are opposed to anything that would draw attention to America's victory over the Communists, but why haven't Congressional Republicans made this an issue?

Nonetheless, the major service organizations, representing millions of veterans, are pressuring Congress to pass this bill, and private efforts can found at the Cold War Victory Medal website. (see also this) That Congress would deny this honor for millions of veterans for financial reasons is nothing short of hypocritical.

America authorized a World War II victory medal to returning troops, regardless of where they served. The country owes no less to the brave men and women of the following generations who sacrificed, struggled, and in some cases fought and died, to win a different kind of war to keep America free.
 
Melanie Morgan is a talk show host on KSFO radio, San Francisco, and Chairman, Move America Forward