Wednesday, November 15, 2017

TOP STORY >> What it means to serve our nation

Leader staff writer

Retired Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Charles Eick, a Vietnam War veteran, descibed what it means to be a veteran as guest speaker during the Cabot American Legion Post 71 Veterans Day ceremony Saturday at the Veterans Park Events Center.

According to the federal code of regulations, Eick said a veteran is a person who served in the active military and was not discharged or released dishonorably. A dishonorable discharge disqualifies a person from being a veteran. If a person served for less than 180 days in the military and was found not worthy or not cut out to be there, they are given an administrative separation. They are not a veteran, Eick said.

He talked about the generational differences veterans face. Second World War veterans did not know when they were coming back.

“They were either drafted or volunteered to be in the military — 12 percent of the population was in the military,” he said.

A Vietnam War veterans’ tour was one year to two years. They were volunteers or drafted. The draft ended in January 1973, he noted.

“We had people motivated to go into the military to get away from the draft,” Eick said.

“Today service members go to war zones for five to six months and are rotated in and out. They have a different kind of stress level. Today’s military is all volunteer. They’re willing to put their life on the line to defend this country. A new enlistee earns about $9 an hour for a 40-hour work week.

“There is more motivation that just money. In January 2015, there were 1.4 million people serving active duty in the military. That’s 0.4 percent of the American population ensuring we have liberty, freedom and security. This is their day – Veterans Day,” Eick said.

“Veterans have a sense of pride that stands out. We paid our dues. When we hear the National Anthem we have a respect for it. We remember our comrades who served with us, maybe injured or died in service. This sense of duty, courage, and honor is in our actions and attitudes,” he said.

The Cabot American Legion is hosting an annual Thanksgiving meal at 6 p.m. Thursday for veterans, their family and on-duty first responders at the National Guard Armory, 300 Commercial Drive.