How to get a Cold War Recognition Certificate

As veterans, we served for many reasons. Some of us were drafted, some of us joined an all-volunteer force. Regardless of your motives (or choice in the matter), you have earned the right to call yourself a veteran. There is a tremendous amount of respect and responsibility that comes with that title, and and instant…
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As veterans, we served for many reasons. Some of us were drafted, some of us joined an all-volunteer force. Regardless of your motives (or choice in the matter), you have earned the right to call yourself a veteran. There is a tremendous amount of respect and responsibility that comes with that title, and and instant membership into a select group of people who understand what it means to serve.

Cold War Recognition Certificate

It’s often easy to look back at some parts of our military careers without taking into account the greater picture of what we did, when and where we served, what we accomplished, and what was happening in our world at the time. It is with this in mind that the Cold War Recognition Certificate was created. The Cold War Recognition Certificate was created to honor those who served in the armed forces or as a federal government civilian during the Cold War Era, which is designated from September 2, 1945, through December 26, 1991. The award and issuance of this certificate was authorized by the Secretary of Defense under Section 1084 of the Fiscal Year 1998 National Defense Authorization Act.

How to get a Cold War Recognition Certificate

Eligibility. The Cold War Recognition Certificate is available to all former members of the armed forces and federal government civilian personnel who faithfully served the United States during the Cold War era, Sept. 2, 1945, to Dec. 26, 1991. Individuals must have served at least one day during this period to qualify for the certificate.

How to obtain a Cold War Recognition Certificate. To request a Cold War Recognition Certificate, you will need to visit the site to download the appropriate paperwork. Here are the instructions, and the FAQ Page. Then you will need to mail or fax supporting documents to the US Army Human Resources Command. The preferred application method is by using the following application form (the form is based on your mailing address and status as the member who is applying, or Next of Kin):

If you are applying as Next of Kin, you may wish to review the methods for obtaining a copy of military records regarding who is considered Next of Kin (generally a spouse, children, surviving parents, surviving siblings, in that order).

Print, sign, and confirm your application. You must send a copy of your application along with supporting documentation. Acceptable documentation includes includes any official government or military document that contains the recipient’s name, Social Security Number or Military Service Number or Foreign Service Number, and a date showing at least one day of service during the Cold War era (2 September 1945 to 26 December 1991). Examples include your discharge paperwork, DD Form 214, military medals or awards, old pay stubs, or other documents. Here are instructions for getting a copy of your DD Form 214, or replacing your military awards.

(Note: Please do not send original documents as they will not be returned. Only send copies.).

Please send your application and documentation to:

Cold War Recognition Program
ATTN: AHRC-PDP-A, Dept 480
1600 Spearhead Division Avenue
Fort Knox, KY 40122-5408

FAX: 1-800-723-9262 or 502-613-9510

Alternate application method: Applicants can elect to hand write a letter if they are unable to print the forms mentioned above. If you are applying for the certificate with a hand-written letter, then it must be signed and dated, and you must include the following phrase in your letter, “I confirm my faithful and honorable service to the nation during the Cold War Era.”

Applications without this phrase will be automatically rejected.

How long does it take? Response times vary, but expect it to take between 30-60 days to receive your Cold War Recognition Certificate. These certificates will be awarded on a first come, first served basis and will be awarded until the government runs out of them. (This award has been around since 1999, and they are still issuing it, so you likely still have time to receive your copy).

Important things to know

This award is only issued one time per person, and the government is not issuing replacement copies. It is recommended that you keep this somewhere in a safe place, such as a scrapbook, in a frame, or in a lockbox. This should not have any identifying personal information, such as your Social Security Number, so display it proudly!

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  1. Dean A Whitney says

    When trying to complete the application for cold war recognition certificate under Id types I was not clear
    on what they mean. Here are my best guesses.

    SSN= social security number
    MSN= military service number
    FSN= (I have no idea what this is)
    Please send me the definitions for the types.

  2. Thomas webster says

    I sent my DD214 at least two months ago for cold war certificate and have not heard anything how long doe’s it take.

  3. Troy says

    I find it funny that they recommend keeping it in a lockbox, as the only actual value of this is that it can be displayed.

  4. Chan Roberts says

    Pure, unadulterated bovine fecal matter! I sent for this when it first came out and didn’t receive a damned thing! And why the hell is the Army issuing this instead of the DoD?

  5. L Jones says

    I believe I qualify for the Cold War Veteran Certificate. I am a civilian that worked for the Army and then the Air Force. I worked as a scientific programmer for radar defense sites. I also worked with defensive missiles. This all took place during the time of qualification (1945-1991). The problem I am having is getting to the website links in your article. I get rejected with an error about my personal security. Is there a phone number that I can call to ask for an application?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello L Jones, Thank you for reaching out. The Army website (and many other government websites) cause many browsers to give a warning regarding security certificates. That may be the situation causing the error you describe. Here is the contact information:

      Phone Line: 502-613-9126

      Email: [email protected]

      Commander, USAHRC
      ATTN: AHRC-PDP-A, Dept 480
      1600 Spearhead Division Avenue
      Fort Knox, KY 40122-5408

  6. Donald Wilson says

    Hello Ryan,
    I served from 1980 to 1985, USAF. Honourable Discharge. I understand that there was a Service Ribbon/Medal with Certificate. But the Authorization for that Ribbon/Medal was never signed by Former President Obama. In fact since then I haven’t heard a thing about it. And from I understand, just because your a Cold War Veteran, that served overseas, does not qualify the service member as a Veteran of a Foreign War… Therefore, you can not become a member of your local VFW Post. And are only able to join the American Legion… Because Serving during the Cold War, overseas or anywhere else doesn’t qualify as Serving in a War. (Even though it is called the “Cold War”)

  7. Jobu642 says

    Having served faithful and honorable from ’85 to ’93 aboard an SSBN during the Cold War, Desert Storm, etc. you acquire no ribbons for entry into the VFW. Or does this piece of paper suffice?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Jobu642, Thank you for contacting me. The VFW requires a DD Form 214 to prove service eligibility. The time frame during Desert Storm may qualify you if you received the campaign ribbon / medal. Here is the VFW eligibility page, and the pdf that shows eligible campaigns. The bottom of page 3 shows eligibility for Navy members / veterans with the SSBN Deterrent Patrol Insignia (from Jan. 21, 1961 – Open). Since I don’t work for the VFW, you would need to direct further questions to them.

      You could also look into joining other military organizations such as the American Legion.

  8. aav amphibs says

    “This award is only issued one time per person, and the government is not issuing replacement copies.”

    Ha ha….this is not true. I ordered one when they first came out when? Like in 1999 or 2000 or so? I lost it when I moved to my home. That particular certificate was signed by William Cohen. I never bothered to try and get a replacement. I send away for another Cold War Recognition Certificate and I got it in about two weeks now in 2014 October. This one signed by Chuck Hagel.
    So there are many certificates left. Most people don’t apply for them. Not interested in it. Doesn’t come with any benefits or discounts for anything, just a certificate of recognition.

    • Robert Van Deusen says

      I received my certificate on Nov. 3, 2016 but they spelled my name wrong ( Robert A. VanDeysen). Then I faxed all the paper work again to fax number 1-502-613-4531. Know I see two other fax numbers 1-800-723-9262 or 502-613-9510. My name is spelled Robert A. Van Deusen. Can you help me, I called and they said they have no record of me? I did 4 and half years in the Navy, Hospital Corpsman/Advanced X-Ray Tech. Thank You

      • Ryan Guina says

        Hello Robert, Thank you for contacting me. Unfortunately, the Cold War Certificate program is run by the Army. I am not involved with this program (I wrote about it on our site to bring awareness to veterans so they could receive the certificate they earned).

        You will need to contact the Army for further information on this program. If they do not have a record of you, then you will need to contact the National Archives in St. Louis. They hold all military records. It’s possible they made an error on some of your official military paperwork. you would need to speak with them about correcting any possible errors. Here is their website. We also have an article about requesting copies of your military records with further instructions.

        I hope this points you in the right direction. Best of luck, and thank you for your service!

  9. Richard Beary says

    I’m having a tough time getting my military medical records. The V.A. says they don’t know where the records are. I am trying to get benefits for the agent orange Vietnam War. Thanks Sgt Richard Beary File.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Richard, My recommendation is to contact the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), VFW, Vietnam Veterans organization, or a similar veterans service organization. They have volunteers who specialize in helping veterans obtain benefits they are qualified for. I will send you an email with additional information you may find helpful for making a benefits claim. Best of luck, and thanks for your service!

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