In November 2018, a new definition of the term turned more than 10 million Germans into ‘veterans’.
On 26 November 2018, the Federal Minister of Defense declared:
‘Any soldier in active service or honorably discharged without losing their rank is a veteran of the Bundeswehr.’Quote Minister of Defense:
After decades without any definition at all, maybe one should be grateful for this clarification. Unfortunately, this definition leaves an important group entirely unrecognised: Those soldiers who served the Federal Republic of Germany in military operations abroad, who from now on we will refer to as ‘combat veterans’.
Veterans in Germany
The armed forces in general and the servicemen and women in particular are not held in high regard in German civil society. At best invisible, but more often than not despised, insulted and even spat at, they live among us. Combat veterans hardly enjoy any recognition, let alone respect for their service. These are the circumstances German soldiers have to face every day.
It is the German Parliament, the Bundestag, and thus the elected representatives of civil society, who send troops into military operations abroad. This often happens almost unnoticed, with next to no media coverage and unheeded by the public.
After the mission
Life-threatening incidents, being physically injured, bearing witness to death and dying – all these are situations deployed soldiers have to face and cope with. The psychological challenges sometimes even outweigh the physical ones. No one returns unchanged from a combat operation, some soldiers will change a lot.