There are many different kinds of soap opera veterans.
There are the fictional characters who served...
There are the actors who served...
Read an interview with Robert S. Woods (Bo; OLTL) from 1981 about his experiences in Vietnam at: http://onelifetolive.about.com/library/prm/blwoods_interview_1981a.htm and Mark Valley (ex-Jack; DOOL) from 2010 on serving in the Gulf War and how that led him to acting at: http://shows.ctv.ca/HumanTarget/article/How-Mark-Valley-went-from-the-Gulf-War-to-Human-Target#c_0
And finally there are the actors who are considered the veterans of their genre.
The late Helen Wagner (Nancy; ATWT) got a kick out of being listed as the longest running "thing" on daytime television in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Please enjoy this 1998 tribute to her below:
May everyone have a meaningful Veteran's Day!