When is Veteran's Day

Bundeswehr Veterans Day: Overdue or Superfluous?

Transmission date: April 21, 2012 7:20 pm | archive
The Bundestag sends soldiers on combat missions. You risk your life doing this.

More than 300,000 soldiers of the Bundeswehr have been deployed abroad so far. The missions can be risky and dangerous. 52 Bundeswehr soldiers lost their lives in Afghanistan. A "friendly disinterest" (ex-Federal President Horst Koehler) of the society in the armed forces is often complained.

Federal Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière (CDU) wants to change that. His ministry published a discussion paper on veterans policy in early April. The paper is very vague and not very specific. At the end of the year, de Maizière wants to present a veteran plan.

Combat in Afghanistan is dangerous. The Bundeswehr has long spoken of a stabilization mission in order not to endanger the population's acceptance of this mission.

Who is a Veteran?

Definition of terms

From the point of view of the Ministry of Defense, soldiers in the Bundeswehr are veterans if they were deployed on missions abroad:
"Unlike our partners, the term" veteran "has no tradition in the Bundeswehr. It defies a fixed definition and uniform criteria. Nevertheless, the media and the public are increasingly calling soldiers of the Bundeswehr as veterans Bundeswehr formed, which go back to private initiatives. Colloquially, a veteran is usually understood by many to be a long-serving and senior soldier or war participant. This distinguishes the use of the term in Germany from its use by our neighbors and partners Post-war soldiers are also regularly referred to as veterans. "

Veterans day

Several thousand Bundeswehr soldiers were deployed in the Balkans, especially after the war in Kosovo. There are now considerably fewer soldiers. Some are also deployed in Bosnia on behalf of the EU.

At the beginning of the year, Defense Minister de Maizière suggested using the day of national mourning for a veterans day. There has been severe criticism of this advance. Now the Ministry of Defense is proposing May 22nd as Veterans Day.

Proposal May 22nd

"In order to promote and increase the immaterial appreciation of our veterans by the state, the armed forces and society, an official gesture of recognition within the framework of a nationwide organized day would be conceivable. One possible date among several is May 22nd, the day on in 1956 the constitutional basis for the armed forces came into force. On this day, those who do an indispensable service to our society in the armed forces could be in the center of public interest. "


The Ministry's ideas

The Department of Defense already has ideas on how veterans could be supported:

"It would be desirable, on the basis of our allies and partners, to discuss other measures, for example the establishment of veterans 'homes, the introduction of a veteran's badge to be worn on uniforms and civil suits, organizational support for veterans' meetings or on the establishment of a special envoy for veterans. "

Should there be a veterans day?

For several years the German Navy has been monitoring the arms embargo off the Lebanese coast on behalf of the UN. This UNIFIL mission is considered largely harmless.

Politicians and advocates think Veterans Day makes sense. But what do the soldiers concerned think?

FDP discussion paper

The Bundeswehr tries to provide optimal care for the wounded. Because the so-called MedEvac helicopters are not yet available, the Bundeswehr depends on the support of its allies.

The FDP submitted a veteran paper to the Ministry of Defense. It advocates a Veterans Day in April.


Veterans day

"The establishment of a separate day of remembrance, which, in the choice of the date, is directly related to the Bundeswehr's missions abroad, would
offer the best opportunity to highlight the special achievements of the veterans. For example, April 2nd could be chosen as the date,
which the Commissioner for Defense of the Royal Family introduced into the debate. On April 2, 2010, three German soldiers were killed in Afghanistan. By
Any association of the commemoration of the veterans with this event will reduce the consequences of each and every soldier participating in the event
Foreign assignment takes on itself clearly. "

Veteran card

The soldiers are prepared on training grounds before their missions abroad - also for caring for the wounded.

The FDP wants to enforce discounts for veterans. There should be a veteran's card. It is based on support from the economy.

Veteran card

"In the USA and in several neighboring European countries, one card gives veterans the opportunity to travel to different states
Institutions and companies to take advantage of the benefits. Such a model also seems conceivable for Germany (...) The introduction of a veteran card in Germany would not have a direct function for the supply of veterans, but rather serves the purpose of expressing appreciation for veterans by receiving bonuses.
The establishment of such a system therefore requires a special initiative from business. For the companies, the support of the veteran card not only offers the possibility of a commitment to the armed forces, but also the possibility of acquiring new customers. "

Association of German Veterans

More and more soldiers are returning traumatized from the Afghanistan mission. The Bundeswehr lacks treatment places. It must therefore fall back on civil institutions.

The Association of German Veterans sees itself as the mouthpiece of Bundeswehr soldiers who have been deployed abroad. The association was only founded in August 2010. The association offers help to traumatized soldiers in particular. According to his own statement, free of charge, unbureaucratic and fast. So-called case managers would be provided to those affected. Because traumatized soldiers often have a difficult time with the Bundeswehr bureaucracy.

Veterans in Anglo-Saxon countries

In the US, every former soldier is considered a veteran, regardless of whether or not they have been on an overseas assignment. The Department of Veterans Affairs is the second largest department in the US government in terms of staff numbers.

In the UK, veterans enjoy social recognition. There are numerous organizations and institutions that look after former soldiers and provide assistance. The new umbrella organization Veterans-UK was launched five years ago. It sees itself as the first point of contact for veterans.

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NDR Info | Armed Forces and Strategies | 04/21/2012 | 7:20 pm