- Date: 1509
- 1 a : an old soldier of long service
- b : a former member of the armed forces
A veteran (from Latin vetus, meaning "old") is a person who has had long service or experience in a particular occupation or field; " A veteran of ..." . This page refers to military veterans, i.e. person who has or is serving in the armed forces, and has direct exposure to acts of military conflict, commonly known as war veterans (although not all military conflicts, or areas in which armed combat takes place, are necessarily referred to as "wars").
Military veterans often receive special treatment in their respective countries due to the sacrifices they made during wars. Different countries handle this differently, some openly support veterans through government programs and others ignoring them. Veterans are also subject to illnesses directly related to their military service such as PTSD. War veterans are generally treated with great respect and honor for their contribution to the world and country by their own nationals. Conversely there are often negative feelings towards the veterans of alien nations held long after the war is over, for example towards the German Nazi soldiers, but they are no less veterans of war than those of the winning side. There are exceptions. Veterans of unpopular conflicts, such as the Vietnam War, have been discriminated against. Others, such as veterans of conflicts like the Korean War, are often forgotten (even though the casualty rate in Korea was higher than that experienced in the Vietnam War) when compared with those who fought in the World Wars. In some countries with strong anti-military traditions (e.g., Germany after 1945) veterans are neither honored in any special way by the general public, nor have their dedicated Veterans Day, although events are sometimes orchestrated by Neo-Nazi and other minority right-wing groups
Many countries have longstanding traditions, ceremonies, and holidays to honor their veterans. In the UK "Remembrance Day" is held on November the 11th and is focused mostly on the veterans who died in service to the monarch and country. A red or white poppy is worn on the lapel (for remembrance or for peace, respectively) in the weeks up to the date, and wreaths and flowers laid at memorials to the dead.
In Russia, a tradition was established after the Second World War, where newly married couples would on their wedding day visit a military cemetery. In France, for instance, those wounded in war are given the first claim on any seat on public transit. Most countries have a holiday such as Veterans Day to honor their veterans, along with the war dead.