Thursday, June 28, 2012

Veteran of the Cold War

I didn't know it, until a few hours ago, but I am a Veteran. A veteran of the Cold War. 
A group of Dutch ex-soldiers (professional and drafted) have formed this organisation KOVOM (Cold War Veterans); they drink tea together, hold memorials and give each other medals.
To get a medal though, one has to be a (paid) member for 2 years and then pay 25 euros for your medal - I don't think I'll ever get to wear one, despite my 14 months of military service during the worst of the Cold War.
There is a lot of opposition from the "real" veterans against the whole thing, their participation at memorials, marches, etc. and yes, there is something sad about having to buy your own medal. A lot of berets though, among the Cold War Veterans. 


  1. A bunch of weird old men with fake medals.

    1. KOVOM is an association with over 1000 members.
      About the half consist of "real veterans".
      It's not about getting the veteran status, but to obtain recognition of the soldiers who have served during the Cold War.
      If we are a bunch of weird old men, any other association of former soldiers might be.

      Regards, Toon Swinkels, member KOVOM

    2. Interesting reasoning. Does a large number of think-alikes make it any less 'weird'?
      The point of the post is the very fact that there is so little to recognize, so little that the 'veterans' decided to make their own medals (which then have to be mail ordered).
      There is a certain Boy Scout feeling about the whole thing...

    3. Beret And Boina:

      you are completely right. Overhere in the Netherlands the "Kovom Vet's" are really a pain in the ass.
      A bunch of wannabee-veterans with selfmade medails, even antik coins on a fantasie colored ribbon and some medals of walking event's.
      A shame for each veteran!!!!!!!!

  2. Hello Daan,
    Just because you say that there is very little to recognize, is reason enough for me to assume that you are not really aware of what was going on during the Cold War.
    The fact that you might like to see your military service time as a lost of time, does not mean that there are people who are proud about the fulfilling of military service for their country.
    And of course there are former soldiers who want to have a tangible recognition for their service, something in the way of a medal.
    Because Dutch government and defense does not provide a cold war medal, the association decided to get manufactured the Cold War memorial medals by themself.
    The interest for this is shown by the number of members and also the willingness to buy the medal by own expense.
    Again, half the members are "real veterans".
    KOVOM is part of UNV, Dutch Union of Veterans.
    In the beginning there was resistance, but now KOVOM is accepted by almost all Veterans Associations.
    In 2012, a delegation participated in the parade in Wageningen and members took part in the parade of the National Veterans Day in The Hague (Nationale Veteranendag in Den Haag).
    In recent years I have had many talks with (professional) military and have attended lectures, so I can say now: the Cold War was a war.
    A war that was played behind screens.
    In the 70's the nuclear arms race was in the news almost daily.
    I have fulfilled my duty in the Dutch Royal Air Force and was stationed in Germany, as a corporal Security Force at a nuclear missile site.
    And that was far from Boy Scouts.....24/7 guarding the missiles, the radar site and the American soldiers.
    Always with live ammunition and double shifts if there were sick mates.
    For me there was not a need for a medal, more a way of recognition.
    I must admit that I have bought the medal.
    I'm not wearing it but I am proud to have it.
    KOVOM is a kind of reunion association; Dutch Army, Air Force, Navy and Military Police are friendly together.
    Like it should be.

    Regards, Toon Swinkels, member KOVOM

    1. Dear Toon,
      Who am I to deny someone else his/her beliefs and need for recognition?
      As it is, I served in the Neth. RAF at the same time, which I found especially useful as it taught me much about politics, power and maintaining the status quo of international politics; after that I have worked and lived during many wars and conflicts (in medical emergency aid) and have some idea of what wars are like (no, never received or purchased a medal for that - the organization did get the Nobel prize for it though).
      Please enjoy your meetings together - maintaining friendships is more constructive than the military itself, after all.

  3. Hello Daan,
    Because you have completed your military service you deserve recognition.
    At that time it was taken for granted to be in military service.
    The government and defense felt nothing about a recognition or reward.

    I want to express my appreciation for what you have done for your country during the Cold War.
    I also want to thank you for the work you've done as Medical First Aid Provider during military conflicts after your military service.

    Indeed, maintaining friendships is an important issue in this increasingly grim world.

    Warm regards,
    oftewel met vriendelijke groet,

    Toon Swinkels, dpl kpl SF 12 GGW 220 sqn Li.78-11

  4. I do agree with Toon.

  5. Interesting what emotions these "Cold War Veterans" stir up among the Dutch. Too many spiteful comments to publish though. Interesting comments, comments that ad to a discussion still welcome.

    1. It's really a shame, those "veterans" overhere in the Netherlands.
      Most of them are de remains from the "Long hair, no saluting" Army in the earley '70's.
      And now, after that many years, they feel themselves als "real veterans".

      As a matter of fact; you should see them at one of there "medal-parades"

      It madae a lot of people vomitting.

    2. I thought I made my own ideas on this whole affair quite clear, but with silly comments like this one (above), I'd almost feel a little bit of pride rising in me , having been part of the "Long hair, no saluting army".
      And when seeing someone parading with a medal you don't like makes you that sick, you'd better not watch and see a doctor.
      Can we leave the silly comments at this, please?

  6. Like all "other" veterans, the KOVOM-members are surely veteran. And indeed: overhere in Holland they're more and more accepted.
    Please close this kind of discussion.
    I'm a so called "real veteran", but I'm also a member of the KOVOM. I really do not see the differance; I do feel fine in the KOVOM.

  7. To all the Dutch readers;

    Mannen, vrienden, collega-veteranen; laten we tenminste dit forum schoon houden van alle laster en smaad, zoals die ooit in het gastenboek van de KOVOM-Site verschenen.
    Reageer daarom niet op aantijgingen, smaad en laster (want dát is het), maar zet wat positiefs op dit forum.
    Met veteranengroet aan allen,

    jOS c.

    1. word steeds meer geacepteerd als veteraan, Onder welke steen komt U vandaan? Het zijn geen .veteranen en zullen dit nooit worden.

  8. Het bovenstaande kan ik volledig onderschrijven, laat mensen die in de jaren van de Koude oorlog gediend hebben, let op het woord gediend, hun bijeenkomsten houden en meedoen aan parades waar respect voor veteranen voorop staat.

  9. I'm proud of you Cold War Vets, stating so from American. You deserve a medal and worthy of the same as other Veteran groups. The narcists and critics can just shut up.

    1. they did serve on the iron curtain, bought there cheap homes , send there children to german schools , get xtra paid for being óut of the country".Lots of them are professionel military , serving on desk jobs , ore other base duty's . The soldiers at the real fence where drafted soldiers , they camped where they are.And the so cold KOVOM people where sleeping in there cofertly home's.giv3e respect to them whome deserved t !

  10. Weer aandacht voor die gal bakken.
    Wees een vent en gooi dat blik bij het schroot.
    En ja ik zou bij de kunnen maar zou niet willen als oud dpl sld1.
    Ben trots op wat ik wel heb gedaan als beroeps op uitzending.

    Maar ja weer aandacht voor die neppers.

  11. Those people who have served for the Dutch Forces in the Cold War do not have the rights to call there self's or act as a War Veteran. It's a insult for those who have really fought for freedom and security in Lebanon, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Mali and so on. They want Respect? Earn it to Learn it. And No I have no any respect for them which I only see them nothing more then some circus clowns with medals from marches of Nijmegen, Diekirch or what's so ever. Br, Bosnia Veteran (Unprofor)

  12. Despite what is being said, KOVOM is NOT recognised as a Veterans org, and the members arew NOT recognised as veterans. They are NOT allowed to use the name Veteran, yet they use the exterior to impress people without knowledge of this fact. This is enhanced by wearing a lot of shiny (non-recognised) medals which are only used to impress the general public, leaving a genuine veteran with "only" 2 medals in their shadows...
    Regretfully, "regular Joe" does not see the difference and give undeserved credit to those who do NOT deserve it. And THERE is the point where a recognised veteran gets agitated and angry. Wouldn 't you?!
    Another UNPROFOR Bosnia vet.

  13. I think we've seen enough comments pro and con on the subject. Enough is enough.
    Whatever one feels on the matter, I find it fascinating how grown up people can be so passionate about a bit of bling pinned to their chest (and denying others the pleasure).
    But then, I never quite understood the whole military hierarchy and man-made importance of symbols.
    Thank you all for expressing your thoughts.

  14. Quite a lot of discussions about medals, but medals are not important. The policy of the Dutch Government however is ! I know a lot of Officers and NCO's who were carier military, and
    have spend their entire life in the armed forces. Nevertheless in the view
    of the Dutch Governement they are NO veterans when they have not been part of a peace keeping operation (which operations only started in the seventies). A weird situation that a
    professional military man is after his retirement considered to be a just a civilian. KOVOM tries to get some kind of official recognition for them, but also for drafted men who have spend from 18 months till two years in the armed forces and see themselves now treated as not existing.
    I myself have been in the army from februari 1957 till january 1959 (almost two years), drafted, so not my decision. Now I am old and memories are coming back. The lack of any recognition of my country is feels like an insult. I don't consider the veteran status important, neither do I appreciate a medal. It just would be nice to get a 'thank you' from my government, as it took two years of my life to defend my country.