With Veterans Day quickly approaching, this year I’ve frequently heard discussions focusing on how long our troops have been in combat.   I’ve heard references to the battles in  Iraq and Afghanistan and the toll it has taken on the service members and their families.  On top of that, I’ve heard some commentators add the recent skirmishes in Libya and Egypt in the mix.  On a couple of occasions, I’ve heard a couple commentators mention our current period of war has been the longest in our nation.  Contrary to their comments, this is not our longest period of war.

Congress likes clear definitions.  In fact Congress likes them so much they tend to get carried away with defining policies.  Take for example our Tax Code.  I lost count of the number of volumes it takes to describe and define the entire code.  The VA is just as bad.  The VA code is found in Title 38 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).  The CFR has at least 70  parts.  The CFR is like the Bible.  The Bible consists of 66 books that are broken down further in to chapters then verses.  Title 38 CFR consists of 70 parts that are broken down in to  sections.  Remember that funny little symbol “§”.  That symbol is equivalent to the word “section.” Each part  of Title 38 consists of sections.  If someone wants to review the official periods of war, they can search for Title 38 CFR Part 3.  I happen to know the period of war is found in § 3.2.  So, in their favorite search engine, they can search for Title 38 CFR Part 3 § 3.2.

Sorry about the brief lesson on Title 38.  One of my topics will be on the fundamentals of regulations.  Or, if you’re interested in more information, simply purchase my book for explanations on numerous topics on the VA.  But now I’ll get back to periods of war.

Our current period of war started on August 2, 1990.  That is only 21 years.  The longest period of war has been 82 years!   Can you imagine 82 years of wartime?  That was the Indian Wars.   This period of war started on January 1, 1817 lasting until December 31, 1898.  Congress added an additional requirement for the determination of service.  The service member had to “render” his service with the military forces fighting the Indian tribes or nations.  Service in the military that was not in conflict with the Indian tribes or nations apparently doesn’t count.

To date, there are only nine (9) periods of war: Indian Wars, Spanish-American War, Mexican Border Period, World War I, World War II, Korean Conflict, Vietnam Era, and finally the Persian Gulf War.  I’m not writing this to debate whether or not a period of war was an actual war, era, or period.  These definitions were determined by Congress.  Please take those concerns to them.

Yes, 21 years is a long period of war.  I stopped counting the number of troops involved in the war when I released from the Navy in 1996.  At that time, we had been in wartime for 6 years.  And I thought 6 years was  a long time.