Our Wars – The Veterans: Then, In-between and Now

It seems we daily hear of the abuses of the Department of Veterans Affairs toward those who have served, and the families of those who died. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why the entire Department is not fully, wholly staffed by veterans. Remember the government shutdown in 2013 when the day before the shutdown, the VA spent $3.5 MILLION on furniture, and by 2014, it was reported that the VA budget for health care has been expanded every year under Obama, and since BO took office, January 2009 – May 2014, a total of $500 MILLION had been spent on furniture for the lazy, uncaring butts that run the joint [I accept that some may not fit the lazy-uncaring category, but apparently those who do not, have no power to change those who are lazy and uncaring]. Now to honor those who have served and an incredible story about a woman who lived to 110 years old. [My apologies, I’m a day late!]


A temporary end to the “hostilities” of World War I happened on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918. The “Treaty of Peace” at Versailles was not official until June 1919. Congress “hoped” that peace would never again be severed, but today we know the folly of that hope, and we know the folly of believing that peace will be lasting until God makes that decision for us. The following is an update from my November 11, 2013 post (a day late).

In 1919, November 11th was designated as “Armistice Day.” In 1926 Congress officially recognized the end of WWI:

Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed…

The 11th of November became an official U.S. holiday known as Armistice Day in May 1938. After WWII President Dwight D. Eisenhower the first “Veterans Day Proclamation,” and has been known as Veterans Day since.

The Uniform Holiday Bill (Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250)) was signed on June 28, 1968, and was intended to ensure three-day weekends for Federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. It was thought that these extended weekends would encourage travel, recreational and cultural activities and stimulate greater industrial and commercial production. Many states did not agree with this decision and continued to celebrate the holidays on their original dates.

The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on October 25, 1971. It was quite apparent that the commemoration of this day was a matter of historic and patriotic significance to a great number of our citizens, and so on September 20th, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479), which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978. This action supported the desires of the overwhelming majority of state legislatures, all major veterans service organizations and the American people.

Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Remember Mrs. Alda Collins? In August 2012 she was 110 years old. Her husband, William F.

Alda H. Collins

Alda H. Collins

Collins served in WWI and died in 1976 at the age of 81. They had been married for 52 years.

Since her husband’s death, Mrs. Collins received $36 a month in benefits from our egregiously ineffective Department of Veterans Affairs. When she was 106 years old and still living in her own home in Pennsylvania, the VA told her son, James Collins, that she should be receiving more but it would take six months to a year to get the paperwork done. It took FOUR YEARS



For six years, her son paid her expenses but it wasn’t easy. In August 2012 her $36 check was increased to $1,000.

Mrs. Collins left her earthly home a year later on September 29, 2013 at the age of 111. Reading her obituary, you can see that she touched many in her long life:

At 111, she was the 53rd oldest person in the world, the 17th oldest person in the United States, and the second oldest in Pennsylvania, Theodore Roosevelt was President at the time of her birth, and she lived to see 19 other presidents (Reagan was her favorite) serve the office. During the ’50s she served President Nixon a cup of coffee in Somerset, she voted during the women’s rights movement in 1919 and didn’t miss a vote after that, and her husband was a World War I veteran.

In 2012, at age 110, her son said she could still walk with a walker and feed herself.

The world’s last WWI veteran is believed to be a UK woman, Florence Green who died on February 19, 2012. She would have been 111 just a few days after her death. She served as a “mess steward at RAF bases.”

The world’s last known WWI combat veteran was also a Brit. Claude “Chuckles” Choulesdied May 2011 in Australia at the age of 110. Mr. Choules was the last survivor to have witnessed “the surrender of the German fleet in the Firth of Forth in November f1918, then the scuttling of the fleet at Scapa Flow.”

America’s last surviving veteran of WWI was Frank Buckles. He died at age 110 on February 27, 2011. Mr. Buckles lied about his to enlist and it took several times to before the Army finally allowed him to enlist.

The best estimate from the National World War II Museum is that 492 veterans are dying each day leaving approximately 855,000 still alive (down from 1.7+ million veterans in 2013). Sixteen million served in WWII.

The VA has an interactive map dated 2014 showing veteran populations. Scroll over your state to see the numbers of veterans residing in your state, and the wars they served in.

For a remembrance of Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941, see the U.S. Naval Academy Glee Club at the USS Arizona Memorial here.

Below is a look a look at who fought in past U.S. wars and how many were still alive in 2013.(courtesy of CNN and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs):

American Revolution (1775-1783) 
U.S. service members: 184,000-250,000 (estimated)
Deaths: 4,435
Wounded: 6,188
Last veteran: Daniel F. Bakeman, died in 1869 at age 109

War of 1812 (1812-1815) 
U.S. service members: 286,730
Deaths: 2,260
Wounded: 4,505
Last veteran: Hiram Cronk, died in 1905 at age 105

Indian Wars (approximately 1817-1898) 
U.S. service members: 106,000 (estimated)
Deaths: 1,000 (estimated)
Last veteran: Fredrak Fraske, died in 1973 at age 101

Mexican War (1846-1848) 
U.S. service members: 78,718
Deaths: 13,283
Wounded: 4,152
Last veteran: Owen Thomas Edgar, died in 1929 at age 98

Civil War (1861-1865) 
Union service members: 2,213,363
Confederate service members: 600,000-1,500,000 (estimated)
Union deaths: 364,511
Confederate deaths: 133,821 (estimated)
Union wounded: 281,881
Confederate wounded: Unknown
Last veteran: John Salling, died in 1958 at age 112

Spanish-American War (1898-1902) 
U.S. servicemembers: 306,760
Deaths: 2,446 (385 in battle)
Wounded: 1,662
Last veteran: Nathan E. Cook, died in 1992 at age 106

World War I (1917-1918) 
U.S. service members: 4,734,991
Deaths: 116,516 (53,402 in battle)
Wounded: 204,002
Last veteran: Frank Buckles, died in 2011 at age 110

I’m not sure whether we have an official World War I memorial, or not. Seems the one pictured below was erected in Washington, D.C. to honor those from that area. Then I believe fundraising began a couple of years ago to renovate the Memorial and consider it the National World War I monument .

The following (not the photo) is from Have Camera Will Travel – more info, click here.

The World War I Memorial has been neglected for decades, but it has recently received some much-needed attention thanks to a $7.3 million grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Landscaping has been upgraded, trees that had obscured access cleared, the cracked and fading stonework has been repaired and renovated, the lighting upgraded, and a small paved piazza on its southern front added in keeping with its 1930s vision. [You can see some photos of the process here.]

World War I Memorial (National or Local to Veterans of Washington, D.C. area?)

World War I Memorial (National or Local to Veterans of Washington, D.C. area?)

World War II (1941-1945) 
U.S. service members: 16,112,566
Deaths: 405,399 (291,557 in battle)
Wounded: 670,846
Estimated living veterans: 1,711,000 (2013), 855,000 (2014)

World War II Memorial

World War II Memorial

Korean War (1950-1953) 
U.S. service members: 5,720,000
Deaths: 54,246 (36,574 in theater)
Wounded: 103,284
Estimated living veterans: 2,275,000 (June 2013)

Korean Conflict Memorial

Korean Conflict Memorial

Vietnam War (1964-1975) 
U.S. service members: 8,744,000 (estimated 3,403,000 deployed)
Deaths: 90,220 (58,220 in theater)
Wounded: 153,303
Estimated living veterans: 7,391,000 (June 2013)

Vietnam War Memorial

Vietnam War Memorial

Desert Shield/Desert Storm (1990-1991) 
U.S. service members: 2,322,000 (694,550 deployed)
Deaths: 1,948 (383 in theater)
Wounded: 467
Estimated living veterans: 2,244,583 (2009 estimate, may include veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan)

Desert Shield - Desert Storm

Desert Shield – Desert Storm

I haven’t found figures for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars that I feel comfortable with, but as of May 2013, CNN has this report saying that more than 6,700 American military died in Iraq and Afghanistan. A Washington Post 2013, Faces of the Fallen reports 4,446 died in Iraq and 2,354 in Afghanistan.

Deaths by service branch (see Washington Post report linked above).

Cause of death (I consider IED hostile action.)

See this Washington Post Faces of the Fallen interactive map. Choose your state and see the faces of the fallen. Click on each individual photo for information about that hero.

In September 2012, there had been 34 Blue (Islam) on Green (American) attacks on American soldiers with 45 deaths and others wounded.  In August 2014, US Major General Harold J. Greene was fired on and killed by an Afghani Islamic militant. He was the first general killed in a war since Vietnam.

I thank all who have served, including their families. Please don’t let anyone convince you that we are not a grateful nation. We are, and for each of those few who side emotionally with the enemy, there are hundreds of thousands who support you and appreciate what you have done to make the United States the home of the free because of the brave.


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  • maryland2

    I have lived in Northern Va for 30 years and have witnessed the growth of government particularly after 9/11/2001. Government and government contractors have made living in Northern Va a night-mare. But back to the Veterans Admin. I have a friend(?) who is a senior manager at the VetAdm. His compensation includes salary and bonus. He brags that “they clap when I show up to work, and ask if I still work there”. I want to punch him. This is who is running the VetAdm.

    • maryland2, isn’t it disgusting? Really, only Vets should run the VA. So many of them so talented. Makes me sick at the way they are treated.

  • maryland2

    Another comment regarding recently highlighted “relocation expenses” exploited by administrators. This isn’t just a VA issue. It transcends all government agencies. Another friend works at another agency and related a story of an employee receiving a 6 month temporary “relocation” assignment to be with her children at summer camp! I wish your senator would investigate these outrages. Since I live in “The Beltway” mine are part of the problem. When the media talks about the 1% they should include government administrators. Our tax dollars at (Not) work.

    • Carly Fiorina nailed it when she said we needed Zero-based budgeting. We desperately need it, as nothing is justified before funding. The duty of Congress is to authorize and appropriate. When funds are authorized by Congress, there must then be appropriated. Without appropriation no funds should be designated. I’ve written on it several times. Congress takes naming post offices as a first priority, but doesn’t have time to do the job of appropriating and authorizing. Senator Jim Inhofe has talked about it many times. He’s the one that first drew my attention to it. (edited)

  • LadyRavenSDC

    Thank you Maggie. This is a beautiful post.

  • Thank you LadyRaven. I know you are also missing our own special Veteran, Grumpy. Seems so wrong not to see an emails from him or a voicemail on my phone.