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The Definition of a War Veteran

A majority of the Americans, especially those that aren’t in the military service, don’t understand who veterans are. Often, they perceive veterans to be person either killed or severely wounded in battle. However, according to the U.S federal law definition, veterans are persons that have served in any branch of the armed forces in the U.S. for a certain timeframe. Some of the uniformed services are:

  • S. Army
  • S. Air Force
  • S. Navy
  • S. Marine Corps
  • S. Coast Guard
  • Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service
  • Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association

However, war veterans are specifically those persons who were ordered by any USAF branch to foreign waters or soils to take part in non-direct or direct support activities against a United States enemy. Combat veterans, on the other hand, are those that serve in any USAF branch and experience hostilities of any level or take part in an action of enemy combatant for certain duration as a result of friendly, defensive, or offensive fire military action that involves a perceived or real enemy in a post- or pre-determined combat proceeding. Members serving in the Air National Guard or the National Guard and reservists are also referred to as veterans and are entitled to certain benefits, depending on the service locality and service length (especially those that served in combat status for an active duty).

Another common myth that revolves around is that a person qualifies to be a veteran if he or she takes a military retirement. Although military retirees are also veterans, that doesn’t mean that they became veterans only when they retired. In most cases, persons become veterans at the time they enter the military as opposed to when they retire. However, apart from military retirees, many other guard, reserve and active duty members are also veterans. Even those who served the military forces under their contracted time and were discharged either by general conditions or honorable conditions still fall into the veterans’ category.

Typically, in the case of military retirees or career military, this qualification is simple. However, the qualification becomes more complex for single-term guard members, reservists, and enlistees. Hopefully, you will discover that there are various categories of veterans such as retired veterans and disabled veterans who are entitled to different veteran compensations and benefits, depending on the veteran status. Unfortunately, in some cases, a person might receive no entitlements or benefits at all. The VA doesn’t provide any veteran “cookie-cutter” definition that simply translates into veteran’s entitlements. Keep in mind, that it’s your burden to prove and showcase your veteran status when working with the veterans’ affairs (VA) department.

Efficient obtaining not only requires you to be patient but also have the copies of your health and service records, your discharge papers (i.e. DD-214) coupled with other significant personnel paperwork. Often, the “red tape” is frustrating and long. It might take several weeks or even months for you to see any significant action taken on the benefits package you claim, more so, depending on the entitlements or compensation you’re trying to get. Therefore, it important to practice patience; it will pay up. A majority of the VA benefits are given routinely in relatively simple and expeditious manner and it’s easy to obtain.

Many VA benefits have been released for many years; therefore, the eligibility standards are simple and easy to understand. Others are a bit complex and can change depending on the congressional regulations provided under the status for honorable conditions or by honorable discharge. Also, they can change as a result of the enacted laws through the process of legislation.

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