Veterans Group Apologizes for Failure to Block Expansion of SD Definition of “Veteran”

South Dakota Veterans for Veterans failed to gather enough signatures to refer House Bill 1179—South Dakota’s new, expanded definition of “veteran”—to a public vote. Unable to submit a complete petition to the Secretary of State by yesterday’s deadline, the veterans’ ballot question committee instead posted this lament at the Vietnam veterans’ memorial in Anderson Park here in Aberdeen:


SDVetsforVetssign-20150630-closeHB 1179 takes effect tomorrow, making South Dakotans who served in the National Guard but were never called up for service by the federal government eligible for state veterans’ benefits, including veterans designation on a driver license or identification card, veterans license plates, veterans job preference, and burial benefits.

33 Responses to Veterans Group Apologizes for Failure to Block Expansion of SD Definition of “Veteran”

  1. As one who was in the Air National Guard and received an honorable discharge I’m glad that they couldn’t get enough signatures.
    I guess I wasn’t lucky enough to have a war going on.
    Seriously, I served my country as well as they did. No I didn’t see combat and no I shouldn’t receive the same benefits that they did, but some benefits are appreciated and maybe a thank you for serving my country wouldn’t hurt every now and then.
    I volunteered for the Air Guard. That should count for something.
    Maybe we should have a tiered system of benefits. One for combat, one for full time service but no combat and finally a member of the Guards and no combat.

  2. As a veteran, I welcome the and have always welcomed anyone who has taken the effort to support this country we all live in. I would hope that this would include veterans benefits as well through the VA. By the way owen, you did not miss a damn thing.

  3. I served honorably and was never deployed but feel uncomfortable and don’t deserve the honor of being a Veteran. That’s just me though.

  4. I agree with you Lynn. I don’t think I deserve the same benefits to those brave men and women who did see combat.
    But you and I did serve our country and we’ve earned the right to some benefits.

  5. Owen,

    My memories of how my family would sit at the table and be excited to listen and record cassette tapes from my uncle in Vietnam, see those vets come home and how badly some were permanently scarred and others slowly re-adjusted will always be with me.

    My grandfather the rare time he shared about combat in WW2 and breaking down crying witnessing the loss of some of his squad members.

    My friends who were deployed to the 1st Iraq war to which I could of re-enlisted but chose not to after being out for a number of years and all they experienced to someone close to me that saw combat in Afghanistan.

    I was in during the Reagan years and other than the Grenada it was peaceful basically being ready to be called up to fight the “big one” against the Soviet Union/Warsaw Pact which we all knew how that would eventually and most likely turn out.

    Personally there are others far more deserving than I and will always be grateful for their service and sacrifice.

  6. larry kurtz

    Atta boy, Cory: you’re smelling more like candidate for something every day.

  7. larry kurtz

    btw: nice sound bite on bill janklow’s idea of public radio today. just say the word and my soul will be healed.

  8. Mr. H should definitely run for something. Something big. He would be a great candidate.

  9. Being a veteran is not about seeing combat – it’s about surrendering oneself for the cause of the nation, about having the discomfort of leaving home for in determinate amounts of time in federal service — sacrifices the pure national guard crowd never did partook and thus do not deserve, have not earned the low award of being a veteran. Being a veteran is a relatively low hurdle as measured by days on active duty. Those who valued personal selfish comfort over casting their lot with the regulars do not deserve a federal or state recognition as being a veteran. Once again a perhaps, questionably well-intentioned law, has the effect of scaring national guard service as something less than selfless, less than worthy.

  10. John, the veterans I talked to who were walking petitions seem keenly concerned about Vietnam-era guys who joined the National Guard specifically to avoid making the sacrifice of overseas service. Maybe that’s why they had trouble getting signatures: today’s generation assumes that Guard service means the very real possibility of getting called up to Kuwait, Afghanistan, or Iraq and thus sees folks enlisting in the National Guard as more willingly volunteering for equivalent sacrifice.

  11. Regardless of what side of this issue you find yourself on, I hope we can all agree that posting a political sign at a veteran’s memorial is incredibly tacky. Whoever is responsible for that should be ashamed of themselves, and rest assured if I was the one who saw that sign it would now be peacefully resting at the bottom of the nearest trash can.

    We should have a bit more respect and dignity for those who have served by not using memorials for our own selfish interests.

  12. Craig,

    Some of those vets are pretty passionate and maybe they felt they let the other vets down by not acting quick enough to bring this to a vote. I don’t know and don’t feel it’s my place to condemn them for putting signs there with an apology.

  13. The Vietnam money maker was the worst of times and the best of times for many. If you joined the Guard to avoid Vietnam, good for you. The Guard obviously needed the recruits to maintain its numbers for its theater of operations. I don’t think that the states would allow those ranks to be expanded just to accommodate a few selected recruits. That does not change the fact that those who were Guard are not veterans of the Vietnam era. It is over man, that shitty war is over, lets let it rest and move on to our own battle grounds that we fight in most every day and night in our minds. Oh and Happy 4th of July, the time of year that I personally dread each summer. Those exploding firecrackers and mortars are things that I shun like the old dog I am, add the smell of diesel in the mix and I am back to being 18 once again. Oh the joy of being a teenager in Vietnam. I will trade you a beef hash LRRP, along with some pimento cheese and crackers, for your spaghetti.

  14. Jerry,

    It was an incredibly divisive and painful time and it took years for our country to get out of the shadow of Vietnam.

  15. larry kurtz

    But Lynn is happing keeping Vietnam vets stigmatized for seeking relief from those years of despair.

  16. Larry,

    Please explain.

  17. bearcreekbat

    Lynn, my bet is that larry is referring to your medical marijuana arguments, which would deny injured vets the benefits of marijuana.

    By the way, what did your doctor say about medical marijuana and its positive affect on 6 year old Charlotte Figi’s seizure disorder?

  18. Craig, what more appropriate place could there be to make a statement about veterans’ issues than at a veterans’ monument in a public park? Didn’t the veterans memorialized on that sculpture fight and die for their fellow veterans’ right to come home, speak, and protest? (I could be convinced that a protest at this site is tacky, but I want to test the idea.)

  19. BCB,

    The last thing I would ever do is advise someone I love and care about whether a vet or not suffering from PTSD is seek relief by going to a Heroin Den, use Meth, crack cocaine, weed, play video lottery or buy them a big bottle of alcohol or whatever.

    Larry and my approaches to dealing with pain are polar opposites. I am in a segment of the population that has a very high suicide rate, high drug use and addiction and have lost friends over the years to overdosing, addiction, murder suicide brought on by their addiction and suicide. I could of easily gone down that path but have not. There are other healthier ways to deal with things rather than just putting masking tape over it. I won’t be an enabler and my actions are out of love not just to be a hardass.

    Regarding medical marijuana would you please go back & find the post on that and I’ll comment what my physician said.

  20. bearcreekbat

    Lynn, that post was on Cory’s 6-11-2015 thread: “Medical Cannabis Petition Kicks Off June 18 in Sioux Falls.”

    After several comments back and forth you wrote on June 24, 2015:


    Tomorrow I’ll be visiting with my longtime physician in the Twin Cities. This will be one of the subjects I’ll be bringing up to gain his opinion and what he has heard from his colleagues.”

    I replied to you on that day as follows:

    “Lynn, I look forward to hearing your personal physician’s opinion on medical marijuana, especially those oils that are reported to have helped 6 year old Charlotte Figi, with Dravet Syndrome.”

    Hope that helps refresh your recollection.

  21. larry kurtz

    thanks, bat. lynn clearly believes nobody has the right to make her or his own medical decisions. post-traumatic stress is a debilitating condition for which cannabis is extremely effective.

  22. South Dakota’s lieutenant governor seems to be voicing his support for therapeutic cannabis:

    South Dakota is home to people of many different backgrounds, and we need to work to continue advancing medicines that could help all of our state’s residents. It is important that we all spread the word about the need for diversity enrollment in clinical trials and the value and benefits of increased participation by underrepresented communities.

  23. Larry,

    That’s quite a stretch without even mentioning Cannabis. Just numbing the hell out of them has never been advised as a long term solution.

    I know of one vet that was close to me who served active duty in the Marine Corp with no combat experience who had plenty of weed in his house yet chose to drink himself to death 24/7 fairly quick towards the end leaving behind his children, a wife and the rest of his family behind. He was a great guy with a heart of gold, funny with a gentile soul and it’s still hard thinking of him.

    So that’s your idea of one’s right to make her or his own medical decisions eh?

  24. What? How’d we turn this thread that way? Go get your own medical cannabis post. :-)

    Say, while I’m thinking about veterans, can anyone tell me if the head of South Dakota’s National Guard, Adjutant General Tim Reisch, has ever been federalized? Did HB 1179 make General Reisch eligible for state veterans’ benefits?

  25. Cory,

    Larry’s obsession and personal habit was injected into this thread once again.

  26. happy camper

    I wish these guys would use their energies to say NO MORE WAR. I’m with others that Veterans are those who served during combat, although there are always many, many more behind the lines. So some signed up for the Guard to avoid Vietnam: they still served. They didn’t go to Canada. What’s sicking are the kids still coming home with lost limbs, PTSD, etc. We meddle in places we don’t understand for our own Geo-political interests and young people are the pawns. No one likes to say it but many think we partially created ISIS by not minding our own business. Bring our kids home. That’s a petition to sign.

  27. Cory just because someone can doesn’t mean they should. Note I didn’t suggest it is illegal to post such a sign (although technically it might be since in most areas signs are required to be permitted aside from specific times of year when political signs are allowed, or the typical “For Sale” or Garage Sale signs).

    Actually I’d be MORE willing to accept a person holding a sign at a memorial because at least in that case they are showing a willingness to engage others rather than dumping their message and leaving.

    If they really wanted to engage veterans, why not bring their message to the sidewalk in front of the VA, or stand outside the Department of Veterans Affairs? Perhaps even near the VFW would be a better option… but when I see something like a memorial where people obviously go to remember their loved ones (as evidenced by the flowers and crosses left behind in honor of those memorialized) I see it very much the same as a cemetery. Many of the men and women buried in the Black Hills National Cemetery lost their lives defending our freedoms including the right to free speech, but I dare say I still don’t condone anyone using that location to protest.

    There are better ways of honoring veterans. Then again, the type of person who takes it upon themselves to define what is a “real veteran” vs. a not so real veteran probably has no concern about their impact upon others. I can’t help but wonder if they know that there are full time members of the national guard and that there have been many guard members lose their lives in defense of our nation. Does a member of the guard have to lose their lives to be considered a “real veteran”? An interesting question, but one we cannot ask to the creator of this sign since they didn’t offer any explanation of what they meant by the terms “real veteran”.

  28. I wasn’t asking about the legality either, Craig. I asked in terms of your term, “tacky”.

    I don’t know if the Aberdeen memorial draws much of this activity, but people leave letters and other mementos to veterans at the national Vietnam memorial in Washington all the time. Could we interpret this sign as a message left to the veterans’ fallen comrades? Would that make the message appropriate?

    I think the creator of the sign makes clear that “real veteran” does not include the individuals included by the new definition of HB 1179.

  29. Yes I just see this as overtly political rather than a momento which is why I found it tacky. I’d say the same if someone put a campaign sign up even if that candidate was running on a campaign built around veteran’s rights… I just don’t feel political speech has a place next to a memorial, but that is merely an opinion.

    It would also be blatantly disrespectful to some families who lost loved ones that may not fall into this one person’s view of a “real veteran”. I suppose they can get over it, but it doesn’t make it right.

  30. bearcreekbat

    happy, some folks contend that ISIS started in Camp Bucca, a US run prison in Iraq:

  31. happy camper

    It’s so horrific to think that we may have caused ISIS. In the realm of things, the definition of veteran seems kind of minor. Wouldn’t you think those who lived through Vietnam would first and foremost not want that to repeat for others much more so than feeling the need to minimize (even if correct) other people’s service? People, Democrats and Obama included seem just to have accepted what we used to call Bush’s wars.

  32. larry kurtz

    Bush wars.

    All your Vietnam, Iraq, Yemen belong to us.

    Resistance is futile.

  33. Deb Geelsdottir

    I think the idea of a variety of levels of coverage is very good.

    It’s true that the Guard has changed so much since being a safe haven from Vietnam. I was very glad for each individual who avoided Vietnam via the Guard. Then just a few years ago we had Darth Cheney sending them to Iraq with insufficient training, equipment and armor on their humvees. They were his own, personal cannon fodder.