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Recognizing Cold War service: an estimated 22 million veterans and former federal employees are eligible for the Cold War Recognition Certificate.

Approved in 1998, the Cold War Recognition Certificate was created as a substitute for an actual medal. This decision was and remains controversial among many veterans, although the certificate has proved popular. To date, 728,312 certificates have been printed and mailed. Some 1,265 are pending.

Proponents of the certificate and existing medals (primarily the Armed Forces Expeditionary, Medal) argue that virtually all Cold War operations are already covered. Though it is true that the AFEM was conceived to recognize such military missions, it was made retroactive only back to 1958.

This allowed major categories of Cold War veterans to fall through various medals' eligibility cracks. For example, all the GIs who served in armored cavalry regiments along the Iron Curtain in Germany from May 1955 (when the Army of Occupation Medal ended) to December 1991 were excluded.

Secrecy was another element not considered. Crews who flew classified and highly hazardous aerial reconnaissance missions along Communist borders from 1946 into the 1970s also were ineligible.

Advocates of a medal believe these and all other veterans (especially those stationed overseas) of the era rate a medal. Since the Department of Defense disagrees, any movement in this regard will be up to Congress to rectify, which is not likely soon.

(VFW Resolution 471, passed in 2003, calls for Congress to authorize a Cold War Foreign Service Medal for overseas duty between Sept. 2, 1945, and Dec. 26, 1991. This resolution still stands.)

Meanwhile, the certificate has sufficed for a large number of vets. Eligibility dates are the same as those mentioned above. Congress selected the day WWII ended and the day after the Soviet Union collapsed as the delineating time period.

The U.S. Army Personnel Command is responsible for coordinating issuance of the certificates for all military services. Located in Alexandria, Va., that command is alongside the Army's Military Awards Branch. The Personnel Service Support Division handles requests.

According to the Command, the office issuing the certificates will remain open indefinitely.

Instructions for Ordering

* Applications are available on the Internet at https://vgww.perscomonline. This Web site provides details on procedures for applying and the required documentation.

* Applications must be faxed or mailed with documentation.

* Do not send your original documents (DD-214, etc.)--they will not be returned.

* Your letter must contain the phrase, "I certify that my service was honorable and faithful."

* Customer service: (703) 325-5864.

* Fax number: 1-800-723-9262.

* Mailing address: CDR, AHRC, Cold War Recognition, Hoffman II, Attn: AHRC-CWRS, Room 3N45, 200 Stovall St., Alexandria, VA 22332-0473.

* It takes 30 days to issue a certificate.

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Title Annotation:Cold War Recognition Certificate
Publication:VFW Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2004
Previous Article:VFW magazine: voice of the veteran for a century.
Next Article:Cold War operations: covered by campaign medals.

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