Iowa Senator Joni Ernst Says She Can Call Herself A ‘Combat Veteran’ Despite Never Being In Combat
There is no truth, however, to the rumor that she’ll soon be anchoring the NBC Nightly News.
The newly elected Republican lawmaker defended her military service record after a Huffington Post article pointed out that she never came under fire while serving in Iraq and Kuwait more than a decade ago, reported the Omaha World-Herald.
Ernst led an Iowa Army National Guard transportation company in 2003 and 2004, and the online report suggested the senator is promoting a public misimpression about her military record…
“I am very proud of my service and by law I am defined as a combat veteran,” Ernst said. “I have never once claimed that I have a Combat Action Badge. I have never claimed that I have a Purple Heart. What I have claimed is that I have served in a combat zone.”
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tracey marie February 10th, 2015 at 12:43 pm
her choppers are trying to castrate something besides pigs, I do believe it is truth
Carla Akins February 10th, 2015 at 1:23 pm
This one I am not so troubled by. Yeah, I know she worked in the supply line but if she drove a truck in Kuwait I’d say close enough. She’s a full blown batshit crazy woman – I don’t need to parse the details of her time in the service to call her out.
ExPFCWintergreen February 10th, 2015 at 7:47 pm
I disagree. I think it does matter. She (and her campaign people) was clearly pleased at journalists’ references to her as “first female combat veteran in the Senate,” because “combat veteran” carries a special connotation — even among (perhaps especially among) veterans. It carries the connotation of having borne the brunt of the nation’s wars in a qualitatively different way than other servicemembers, which is why there are special badges of recognition for that burden.
The fact that the Defense Department defines a wide geographic area as the combat theater of operations for purposes of pay and benefits is an administrative gimmick for budgeting purposes, but the implications of the term “combat veteran” are quite different. Thailand was part of the Southeast Asia combat zone during the war in Vietnam, but an airman who fueled fighters at Udorn Air Base wasn’t a “combat veteran.” Richard Nixon served in the Southwest Pacific combat zone during WWII as a Navy supply officer. But even he — he, for whom no political trick was too dirty — never represented himself as a “combat” veteran.
For good or for ill, there is a special cachet reserved in our society for combat veterans — especially in a place like Iowa. Now I don’t begrudge her the fact that she wasn’t a combat soldier. As a retired Lieutenant Colonel she would have begun her service in the late 1980s, well before even limited combat arms slots were open to women in the Army. And because she was commissioned in the Iowa National Guard, which is mostly logistics troops, there was a finite set of choices available to her. As a veteran, I’m troubled by the way she plays semantic games with the term, “combat veteran,” and as a Democrat I’m offended by the way she used it to her own political advantage. I would no more give her a pass on this than I would someone who finished community college describing himself as a “college graduate.”
Carla Akins February 10th, 2015 at 8:05 pm
Great point, thank you. It paints a much clearer picture.
Obewon February 10th, 2015 at 8:10 pm
Phony Joni Ernst is the Palin replacement, dangling for Jeb.
burqa February 11th, 2015 at 4:37 am
Those wide areas are also made so they can dole out more ribbons. I remember back when Reagan sent the troops into Grenada, there were military members who never got within 150 miles of the place who qualified for 3 ribbons.
She deserves praise for serving in the National Guard, but if she didn’t participate in combat she should not try to glom on to the credit that goes to those who did.
“Jugs” Burkett’s book “Stolen Valor” just increased in value…..
Bunya February 10th, 2015 at 1:52 pm
Maybe she’s one of these republicans who claimed the reason they didn’t serve is because “they stayed behind to fight the war at home”. That’s the biggest, most cowardly excuse I’ve ever heard, but it was big back at the beginning of the Iraq fiasco.
Angelo_Frank February 10th, 2015 at 6:45 pm
Q-1: What geographic areas are considered combat zones?
A-1: Combat zones are designated by an Executive Order from the
President as areas in which the U.S. Armed Forces are engaging or have
engaged in combat. There are currently three such combat zones
(including the airspace above each):
Arabian Peninsula Areas, beginning Jan. 17, 1991 — the Persian
Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman, the part of the Arabian Sea north of
10° North latitude and west of 68° East longitude, the Gulf of Aden, and
the countries of Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and
the United Arab Emirates.
Kosovo area, beginning Mar. 24, 1999 — Federal Republic of
Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro), Albania, the Adriatic Sea and the
Ionian Sea north of the 39th Parallel.
Afghanistan, beginning Sept. 19, 2001.
ExPFCWintergreen February 10th, 2015 at 7:40 pm
Then she can claim to be a “combat-zone veteran.” A “combat veteran” is one who has been in “combat,” which the Department of the Army and Defense Department define as: “Engaging the enemy on the ground with individual or crew served weapons, while being exposed to hostile fire and to a high probability of direct physical contact with the hostile force’s personnel. [It] takes place well forward on the battlefield while locating and closing with the enemy to defeat them by fire, maneuver, or shock effect.” She didn’t do those things sitting in the TOC and scheduling truck routes.
Obewon February 10th, 2015 at 7:47 pm
This cinches it! She has formally changed her name to “Phony-Joni Ernst!” She’s never received a penny of ‘combat (hazard) pay’, in her Iowa Army National Guard-Lol.
allison1050 February 10th, 2015 at 10:04 pm
I love her new name Obewon! 🙂
fancypants February 11th, 2015 at 12:25 am
When do we get to give joni the Brian Williams treatment ?
Warman1138 February 11th, 2015 at 12:24 am
Are Ernst and Bachmann related? I was just wondering because they seem to share a similar malady……….bats#$% crazy lying to get elected or stay elected. And who in their right mind would brag about doing cruel things to poor animals…….weird.
BMW09 February 11th, 2015 at 3:55 am
I am no Ernst fan but as a military veteran myself I must say, If she were in Iraq regardless, if she were involved or not in direct combat operations, the fact that she was there during the time that combat patches were still being awarded means that she is a Combat Veteran. If her actlions does not qualify as a Combat Veteran, then many of our heros that were over there would not be considered Combat Veterans.
If we are going to attack her, lets not attack her Combat Veteran status, she earned that just like the rest of us. Lets attack the crazy policies that she supports.
burqa February 11th, 2015 at 4:29 am
So that makes former President Gorge W. Bush a combat veteran because he once flew to Iraq to deliver a plastic turkey on Thanksgiving?
To me, a combat veteran is a veteran of combat, but that’s just me…..
BMW09 February 11th, 2015 at 4:57 am
Trust me, We are probably on the same side here, But anyone wearing the Military Uniform of the United States Armed Forces and were in the geographical area of a War Zone within a specified time declared by our government is considered a Combat Verteran. Let’s fight some bigger battles than this. She has every right to call herself a Combat Veteran, this is all I am saying. Again, I am no fan of hers but she laced up the boots, carried the ruck sack, drugged the duffle bag, endured the conditions over there, she deserve that respect regardless
burqa February 11th, 2015 at 5:13 am
If she wasn’t in combat I can’t consider her a combat veteran.
This might be a good excuse to call my father. I like excuses to call my parents anyways.
I’ve never heard my father refer to himself as a “combat veteran.”
He was flying B-29s out of Japan when the Korean War broke out and flew weather and recon missions but never was engaged in aerial combat. But since you’re a vet, I’ll pass on a lil’ story my dad tells.
Once they were up there and an F-86 fighter pulled alongside and was chatting on the radio with the pilot, just sporty ribbing going back and forth about their respective duties and all.
So the F-86 pilot says, “I can do anything you guys can, but let’s see you do this” – and he proceeds to do a barrel roll.
The B-29 pilot got on the radio and said, “That’s nice, and I admit I can’t do that, but let’s see you do this – feather two” – and he shut down the two outboard engines.
BMW09 February 11th, 2015 at 5:41 am
The only thing I can say to this is that your father is a Combat Veteran rather he refer to it or not. If you have pics of him in uniform after he returned from flying his B-29s out of Japan, take a look at his right arm sleeve, if you see a patch there, your father consider himself a Combat Veteran…..Much respect to your father and you as the son of a Combat Veteran!!!!
burqa February 11th, 2015 at 6:10 am
I don’t have any pictures of him in uniform, but at their house in photo albums are plenty of them. All I can recall on his arm sleeve were his stripes.
I grew up around veterans on a Marine base. I had a privileged upbringing – I knew many Old Breed Marines whose deeds are found in the history books of World War II and Korea and one of the Medal of Honor winners I have known since then earned the medal in Vietnam. They, and all other vets who were in combat were, to a man, modest about their service and this is what is irksome about this Ernst woman.
Have you read Burkett’s “Stolen Valor”? It’s really good and he exposes many who have stretched and downright lied about their service. It’s not just all people who lied about earning medals for valor. One case that comes to mind is the actor Brian Keith, who got as close as Japan to Vietnam, but claimed a broken leg as a combat wound. Another is this life-after-death guy, Danyon Brinkley, who also served honorably, but was in supply and drove trucks on the East Coast of the U.S. He claimed to be a super-duper Marine sniper who went on some fantastical missions.
Ernst should be proud of her service, but should also not exaggerate but, rather, be more modest about it. I think she’s exaggerating by trying to get the word “combat” linked to herself when she saw none.
She deserves credit and gratitude for her service, no doubt.
Back in the 70s and 80s I recall a number of times when there was some loudmouth in a bar claiming to have been Sergeant Fury in Vietnam, what with their exaggerated stories that were pure fiction. The giveaway was when they’d say they’d been “in ‘Nam.” I never heard anyone I knew who was there, in real combat, ever call it “‘Nam.”
You too, deserve credit for serving. What was your MOS?
burqa February 11th, 2015 at 6:20 am
Where are the Swift Boat Veterans on this one? They keeping quiet or what?
John Cole February 11th, 2015 at 8:31 am
In order to prove that she is a “combat veteran”, Senator
Ernst refers to VA notice IB 10-438 December 2011. But it is not the intent of
Public Law 110-181, or VA notice IB 10-438 December 2011, to re-define those
who served in a combat theatre of operations as “combat veterans”; “combat
veteran” in these documents is simply shorthand for “combat-theatre veteran”.
The DOD continues to define “combat veteran” as someone who
“is personally present and actively engaging or being engaged by the enemy” and
recognizes that service with a combat decoration.
The VA defines “combat veteran” as a veteran who has earned
any one of the combat decorations on a list that appears in their document “General
Information on Developing Claims for Service Connection for PTSD”. The VA rules
go on to state that receipt of “campaign medals alone does not generally
indicate engagement in combat.”
If Senator Ernst doesn’t recognize the difference between a
“combat veteran” and a “combat-theatre veteran” she should research what would
happen if she ever tried to file a PTSD claim with the VA. The law that the VA
operates under makes the distinction between a “combat veteran” and a
“combat-theatre veteran” and she would be judged by the VA as the latter
because she has no combat decorations. As such, the evidence requirements for
her would be higher. Reference VAOPGCPREC 12-99 (Oct. 18, 1999) (cited at 65
Fed. Reg. 6256 (Feb. 8, 2000)
Anyone who has been in the military understands the
difference between a “combat-theatre veteran” and a “combat veteran”. I suspect
a great many citizens without military experience understand the difference as
well. Senator Ernst is not a “combat veteran” because she has no combat
decorations. If she continues to represent herself as a “combat veteran” then
she must expect to continue being criticized for it.
BMW09 February 11th, 2015 at 9:22 am
With due respect to what you said, As a 25 Year Veteran, if a person entered a georgraphical area that was declared a War Zone by congress, if it is only for one day, they are considered a Combat Veteran. There are no other descriptions, If this Senator that I totally disagree with on politics was indeed in Iraq as a member of the Armed Forces, within the last 10 years, she is a Combat Veteran. Every Solder, Airman, Marine, or Sailor that did time there are Combat Veterans. I was there on three different occasions, how does one describe Combat Actions there, every day, you were literally under attack no matter where you were, even when you are in your tents or wherever you sleep, mortars were still being lobbed at you. If she were driving up and down those roads of Iraq, I guess people tend to forget about all those IED that killed so many Americans. Are those Heros that died from those attacks not considered Combat Veterans, I know they are, I know a few of them that died this way. Again, I am no fan of Sen Ernst, but I cannot reject that fact that she is a Combat Veteran……
John Cole February 11th, 2015 at 2:31 pm
Thank you for your service.
As I mentioned, the term “combat veteran” has a legal
significance (reference VA rules). Had Senator Ernst actually been actively
engaged with the enemy she would have been recognized by the Army with a combat
decoration and met the VA definition of “combat veteran”.
JWS February 11th, 2015 at 2:47 pm
As a Naval Officer I was in Vietnam twice on very short term assignments from my command in the U.S.. I certainly don’t consider myself a “combat veteran” and I would never list combat veteran on any resume or inquiry concerning my service. To do so, to me anyway, is dishonest and disrespects those who were actually in harms way.
burqa February 11th, 2015 at 3:22 pm
JWS, John Cole, BMW09, – great discussion, guys. Please continue. Regardless of the views discussed, it is enjoyable to see an exchange between thoughtful people who are knowledgeable on the topic and who talk like grown-ups.
No name-calling or snark in sight, but clearly stated opinions offered in a way that makes it more of a discussion rather than rock-throwing or people hurling questions, accusations and unnecessary distractions.
We could use a lot more of that around here and it is pleasant to have you in the lead.
Jesradi February 12th, 2015 at 12:44 pm
I served during Vietnam. They even gave me a ribbon for enlisting while a war was going on! But I am not a combat veteran. I would be embarrassed if I allowed someone to believe I was. However, that was Vietnam and decades ago, when the world was a very different place. One could be there and not be in a war zone, but I don’t think the Mid-East is like that. In that part of the world, wherever/anywhere you put an American presence, that place immediately becomes a possible war zone du jour, so (imo) she can call herself a combat veteran if that’s what floats her boat…maybe PTSD is why she’s so afraid of everything.
Rene H. Provencher March 14th, 2015 at 7:42 pm
I work to hard for Veterans to bitch about a bitch!
Rene H. Provencher March 14th, 2015 at 7:47 pm
Pilots are combat veterans and some never have touched the ground. I am no pilot nor Combat Vet because I touched the ground. I am though a VN Veteran.