Dr. Linda S. Schwartz, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Veterans’ Affairs is urging all citizens to take a moment to remember the state’s veterans of the Persian Gulf War, also known as the First Gulf War. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the war authorized in response to Iraq’s aggression against Kuwait in the summer of 1990.
Twenty years ago this month the Persian Gulf War entered its final decisive phase of “Operation Desert Storm” — the ground offensive led by U.S. and Coalition forces that would drive Saddam Hussein’s forces from Kuwait in just 100 hours. The war began on Jan. 16, 1991 with the most aggressive and strategic air campaign against military targets in Iraq and Kuwait in modern military history. Coalition Forces liberated Kuwait City on Feb. 26 and President George H.W. Bush ordered a unilateral cease fire effectively ending combat operations on Feb. 27. A formal cease-fire agreement formally ending the War was signed on April 6, 1991.
Over 532,000 U.S. forces served as part Operation Desert Storm. There were a total of 147 U.S. battle deaths during the Persian Gulf War, 145 non-battle deaths, and 467 wounded in action.
The Persian Gulf War also marked the first significant Presidential Call-up of the U.S. Reserve components, including the National Guard, since the Korean War. Several units of the Connecticut Army National Guard were activated and saw service in support of the First Gulf War.
“This is an important time in our history to pause and salute the veterans of the Gulf War,” said Dr. Schwartz. “This brief but important war marked this nation’s return to a heavy reliance on our Reserve soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines. Citizen-soldiers from around our state stepped forward and deployed with their units both in support of the force’s build-up, war fight, and re-deployment.
“Now 20 years later — as these veterans reach their 40s, 50s, and 60s — many may be dealing with the lingering, stressful impacts of war and deployments. There are also veterans from this First Gulf War who still serve in uniform today and have subsequently served in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is vital that our Gulf War veterans reach out for help and secure the benefits they have earned. Our Department is ready and eager to serve them in any way possible.”
The Connecticut DVA has district advocacy offices staffed with accredited benefit counselors in Bridgeport, Newington, Norwich, Waterbury and West Haven. DVA benefit counselors are able to help veterans access Federal VA benefits, including applying for disability compensation, as well as connect veterans with all available state benefits and assistance.
Contact and location information for DVA district offices is available at www.ct.gov/ctva. Veterans may also call the agency’s toll-free Veterans Info Line at 1-866-9CT-VETS (1-866-928-8387) for further information and assistance.
It is estimated that there are 40,800 Gulf War-era veterans currently living in Connecticut, which includes the veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.