The Huffington Post has run a hit piece on the military service claims of freshman Iowa Senator, Joni Ernst, claiming that she has repeatedly overstated her role as a combat veteran. That opinion emanates from an organization notable for a staff that generally avoids military service and specifically, combat zones, with the focused circumspection one would normally apply to travel to Ebola outbreak areas.
Andrew Reinbach, a so-called* journalist, and whose HuffPo bio shows him to be a financial writer, seems to have embarked on a sugar-coated witch hunt for Senator Ernst, offended (you just know how easy that is for liberals to be) by Ernst’s campaign claims that she is a combat veteran. Worse, he fumes is that Joni allowed her husband, a retired Ranger Sergeant Major, to claim twice that she led troops into combat when she led a deployment of her Iowa National Guard transportation company into the Iraq war zone. Reinbach quotes other veterans’ opinions to buttress his argument:
This gets scant respect from serving soldiers. Asked what a soldier should do in a case like that, Lt. Col. Alayne Conway says, "You'd clarify, and say 'Sure, I had friends who were in firefights every day, and those are the guys you should roll out the red carpet for.'" Lt. Col. Conway serves in the Army's Press Office in Washington.
But interestingly there’s an update at the end of Reinbach’s piece from that same LTC Conway which seems to say otherwise:
From Colonel Conway:
Alayne Conway · Media Relations Division Chief at Office of the Chief of Public Affairs (OCPA)
Senator Joni Ernst is a combat veteran. Period. Andrew Reinbach manipulated my words, and I am angry and embarrassed that a *so-called journalist would deliberately take out of context a small portion of our 15 minute discussion. I never questioned Sen. Ernst's service, or that of my brothers and sisters in arms; to allow the Huffington Post's readers to think otherwise is not only a disservice to Sen. Ernst, but to all those who wear the uniform of the United States. In a cheap attempt to besmirch the military service of Sen. Ernst, the Huffington Post instead has insulted all the men and women of the Armed Forces who have deployed in service to their nation. LTC Alayne Conway.
Also interesting is that I happen to know that Reinbach phone-interviewed a web acquaintance of mine for almost an hour trying to gain material for this hit piece. My colleague, a former combat infantry NCO in Iraq who earned the Combat Infantryman Badge and who also was an embedded combat reporter for a major U.S. service organization, offered Reinbach no red meat and therefore his supportive remarks for Ernst remained unquoted. Reinbach claims that he did not misquote LTC Conway, which is doubtful since she’s a PR pro. Perhaps finding veterans critical of Ernst during Reinbach’s little witch hunt was so unfruitful as to require a bit of liberal colorization of Conway’s actual remarks. But it’s just so hard to imagine an author at HuffPo doing that.
If you insist on a definitive, legal description as to what constitutes a combat veteran, here’s the applicable U.S. Code as used by the Veterans Administration to determine who is eligible for care as a combat veteran:
Title 38, United States Code (U.S.C.), Section 1710(e)(1)(D) states that a veteran who served on active duty in a theater of combat operations (as determined by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense) during a period of war after the Persian Gulf War, or in combat against a hostile force during a period of hostilities after November 11, 1998, is eligible for hospital care, medical services , and nursing home care for any illness, even if there is insufficient medical evidence to conclude that such condition is attributable to such service. For purposes of this policy, such veterans are considered to qualify as “combat veterans.” Treatment provided under this authority is not subject to copayment requirements.
Now by this old combat veteran’s reading that makes Joni a statutory combat veteran and entitled to refer to herself as such whether for political purposes or not, even if it causes an old hippie Huffpo journalist to get his panties in a twist.