I am not upset about this but am writing for the millions of men like myself who served but are not veterans. In 1957, my senior year of high school, I joined the Army Reserves.
In those days we had something known as Compulsory Military Service. If you did not go into the Reserves, you would be drafted at age 26. The Reserve obligation was six months active duty, seven and a half years of active Reserves, including two weeks summer camp each year and monthly drill weekends.
So two weeks after graduation I was on a troop train with hundreds of other men and boys going to basic training. We had the same basic as other soldiers, then off to four months of specialty training.
Our two-week leave after basic was canceled and added to the end of our tour. Later I realized that they did this so there would be little chance of us reaching the 181-day mark that would have given us veteran status.
I did well in my unit, advanced to staff sergeant in five years, took the officers' series course but did not do the last chapter after someone told me if I finished I could be called up until I was 65. I regret that decision.
I have no regret for my Army service. I think the biggest thing you learn in the military is to do something that you don't want to do without question.
Purpose of this letter is to point out that there are millions of people in my position. When they ask the veterans to stand, we have to stay seated. If they asked for those who served to stand, we can proudly do it.