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Vietnam Era is a term used by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs to classify veterans of the Vietnam War. For VA purposes, in accordance with the Code of Federal Regulations Chapter 38 Paragraph 3.2 (f), the Vietnam Era is "The period beginning on February 28, 1961 and ending on May 7, 1975, inclusive, in the case of a veteran who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period. The period beginning on August 5, 1964 and ended on May 7, 1975 inclusive, in all other cases." The U.S. Congress, U.S. Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs elected to designate those years as such to accord special privileges to all persons who served the country's armed forces during that time. Similar designations have been made for other periods of war.
Because the beginning and the end of the Vietnam War were rather ill-defined, given its characteristics, it was necessary for the federal government to set forth exact years of the conflict. The years contained in the Vietnam Era therefore do not necessarily coincide with the dates of any historical events prior to or after the war. However, for a number of reasons it was necessary to declare dates for that era. Military personnel who served during that period are said to have been on active duty during the Vietnam Era, no matter where they may have been stationed around the world.
Various departments of federal, state and local governments as well as private employers often give Vietnam Era veterans special consideration regarding employment and sometimes assign extra qualifying points.