What is a Veteran? The Legal Definition

What is a Veteran? The Legal Definition

What is a Veteran? Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations defines a veteran as “a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.”

This definition explains that any individual that completed a service for any branch of armed forces classifies as a veteran as long as they were not dishonorably discharged.  This meaning also answers the question, “who is a veteran?”

However, with regard to applicable benefits, other considerations are important and will be covered in later sections.

In this article we’ll discuss who or what is a veteran, the definition and meaning, and service types and time requirements to be considered a veteran.

Who Qualifies as a “Veteran” for Compensation, Pension, and Benefits?

Most people understand that those who served in the military are veterans.

But what they actually need to know is what type of veteran “status” qualifies them for various benefits, such as Tricare or pension benefits.


Veteran Definition – How Long Do You Have to Be in the Military to Be a Veteran?

You have seen from the title 38 definition above that there is no minimum time of service required to be considered a “veteran” so long as you served on active duty.

But the real question is to what purpose you want to be called a veteran.  If it is to receive veteran benefits, as we have seen, the requirements may differ from whether or not people will call you a veteran.

Also note that active duty service members differ from reservists and the National Guard, as we will see below.

These groups must have served on active duty for a period of 180 days or more to be considered a veteran (again, without having been discharged dishonorably).

Veteran Meaning – Understanding the Difference Between Types of Military Service

There are a larger variety of services an individual can be a part of than is generally believed. As you will see, the veteran meaning may change based on the type of military service you do.  The following are descriptions of each to help you steer your way through:


Active-duty service is simply full-time. Active-duty members are available for duty 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, with the exclusion of leave (vacation) or pass (authorized time off). Active-duty members fall under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Defense and can serve in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.


If an individual served active-duty service, it is credible toward length-of-service requirements when qualifying for veterans benefits.


Performing duties one weekend per month, plus two weeks of training per year, members of the Reserves and National Guard are considered part-time, though, since the Gulf War in 1990, they’ve spent exponentially more time called to full-time active duties. In fact, National Guards and Reserves generally spend two years of their six-year enlistment performing full-time active duty.

Reserves – Are Reservists Veterans?

Many people ask if Army Reserves are considered veterans or in general, if reservists are veterans.

The objective of the Reserves is to deliver supplementary support to active-duty forces when obligated. All of the different military services have a Reserve branch under the patronage of the Department of Defense: Army Reserve, Air Force Reserve, Navy Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, and Coast Guard Reserve.

Though it doesn’t count as active-duty time for most veterans’ benefits, when an individual joins the Reserves, they attend basic training and military job school full time. After completion of basic training and military job school, those considered Reserves resume civilian life, except for training called inactive duty training (IDT) which takes place one weekend per month.

Reserves, however, do complete 14 days of full-time training once a year. The training is categorized as active duty for training (ADT). Neither IDT nor ADT counts toward service requirements for veteran’s benefits.

The president and secretary of defense can request those in the Reserves to active duty at any time in order to increase efforts on certain military projects. Approximately 65,000 Reserves are performing active duty in support of military contingency operations at any given moment.

This type of active duty counts toward veterans’ benefits.

National Guard – Are National Guard Veterans?

The principal difference between the National Guard and the Reserves is that the federal government is in charge of the Reserves, while the National Guard units predominately belong to individual states.

To those who ask why National Guard members are not considered veterans, they can be! Currently, National Guard is considered veterans if they served over 20 years even if they don’t get deployed.  Prior to 2016, they were considered veterans only if they served 180 days or more in a federal status, such as serving on active status.

There are two National Guard types: the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard. National Guard members attend basic training and military job school full time under ADT (active duty for training), similar to the Reserves.

They resume daily civilian life but train one weekend per month (IDT) in addition to 15 full-time training days per year. This type of IDT/ADT time doesn’t count toward veterans’ benefits.

State governors can call National Guard members to active duty if a state emergency arises. Such emergencies include relief or protection of property and people outside the authority of local law enforcement. This form of state duty is known officially as “Title 38 Call-up” and doesn’t count toward veteran’s benefits either.

Like the Reserves, the president and secretary of defense can call upon the National Guard in the provision of military contingency operations, known as “Title 10 Call-ups” or federal duty. This type of duty counts toward service requirements for veterans’ benefits.

In a given month, an estimated 40,000 members of the Air and Army National Guard are performing federal duty overseas.

Active Guard/Reserves

A program called the Active Guard/Reserves (AGR) includes members of the Reserves and National Guard that take part in full-time active duty. To make sure that National Guard and Reserve units are ready to mobilize at all times, AGR members provide daily operational support.

For veteran’s benefit service requirements, AGR duty is similar to full-time active-duty service.

Individual Ready Reserve

A military service contract spans a minimum of eight years total and the time that isn’t spent on active duty or in the Guard/Reserves must be spent in inactive reserves, known as the Individual Ready Reserves (IRR).

Generally, after serving four years, a member is transferred to the IRR for their remaining four years. IRR members don’t take part in weekend drills or annual training, but unfortunately, they don’t get paid either. IRR members can be recalled into active duty when necessary, in order to support military projects.

During IRR status, the time spent inactive doesn’t count toward veteran’s benefits unless the member is recalled into active duty.

Roughly 15,000 IRR members have been recalled to active duty, largely for the Army and Marine Corps, every year since 2004.

See Reference here.

  • Fred MacLeod
    Posted at 00:32h, 19 January Reply

    I served active duty in the Marines from Feb 28/1975 through Feb 02/1977.

    Since I served during the end of Vietnam do I fall under the Vietnam veteran status or just a Veteran?

    Thank you

  • Fred Donald MacLeod
    Posted at 23:06h, 26 November Reply

    I enlisted and was active duty starting 2/28/75 thru 2/25/77 based on my DD214,

    It was the tail end of the Vietnam war not sure I fall under the Vietnam Veteran status.

    Just looking into if I would be eligible for any benefits now that I’m sixty nine.

    Thank you.

  • marvin d edwards jr
    Posted at 13:23h, 10 November Reply

    being a veteran is one thing…qualifying for benefits is another. The post office used to insist on 3 yrs service… and was told- for VA loans it is the same… contact your local VA for further info.

  • marvin d edwards jr
    Posted at 13:20h, 10 November Reply

    Kicked out… is a vague term… if he has a bad conduct discharge as opposed to dishonorable…then he is indeed a veteran.

  • Thomas Hanner
    Posted at 19:29h, 16 November Reply

    I was a weekend warrior summer 1979-1988 & IRR attached to NATO in Frankfurt 1988-1993 after moving to Sweden. I received an Honorable discharge. I am ignorant to what I may be or may not be entitled to in this context; I have never applied for any assistance of any kind or even tried to look up what if anything I may be entitled to. But after reading some of the posts on this page I may find I have a change of heart. I figured, as a former weekend warrior I’m not entitled to anything, I may have been wrong I will have to look into this.

  • Charles Bird
    Posted at 00:38h, 12 November Reply

    While of little actual import I was commissioned a 2LT in May 1973. Spent a summer at Fort Gordon in 1974 SOBC. and staying in the control group through 1981. ONly spend two weeks the last two years at Rock Island arsenal ding mathematical work. My wife asked me last night if I was a veteran. I said I don’t know and I don’t think it matters as there are no benefits I would seek from the VA even if I qualified , which I don’t.. I keep seeing ads for USAA some I am only slightly curious.(emphasis onb slightly)

  • Stephen Ryan
    Posted at 13:12h, 04 November Reply

    The military veteran definition as outlined in the 38 U.S Code – 101 is a person who has served in the naval, air, or space military service and was released or discharged honorably.

  • David Roberts
    Posted at 16:20h, 07 October Reply

    My neighbor was booted out of the Army for a failed drug test during his first enlistment and he considers himself a Vet. I say BS, is he a Vet? He openly admitted to me that he used drugs while he was in, pissed me off.

  • Barre
    Posted at 21:50h, 23 September Reply

    Wartime service” shall mean service performed by a Spanish War veteran”, a World War I veteran”, a World War II veteran”, a Korean veteran”, a Vietnam veteran”, a Lebanese peace keeping force veteran”, a Grenada rescue mission veteran”, a Panamanian intervention force veteran”, a Persian Gulf veteran”, or a member of the WAAC” as defined in this clause during any of the periods of time described herein or for which such medals described below are awarded.

  • Diane Garcia
    Posted at 19:30h, 13 July Reply

    My father was enlisted the Navy, but was discharged while in boot camp with a honorable discharge.

  • michael david laury
    Posted at 22:08h, 01 July Reply

    I went through 16 days of basic training in the air force in 1975. I was given an honorable discharge due to ” inability to adjust to military life.” I do NOT consider myself a veteran but the VA does since my service took place before September 8th,1980. I did not use my 5 point veteran status when I took the test to become a letter-carrier back in 1987. I have never used my so called veteran status until a year ago when the VA said I was a veteran with “some” benefits. I got a 10% discount at home depot-so “shoot” me. ( I’m guessing some REAL VETS would like to.) I didn’t use any type of benefit for 44 years until after numerous calls a little over a year ago to the VA THEY INSISTED VEHEMENTLY that I was in fact, a veteran by their definition. Listen, I never have and never will stand to be honored as a veteran by my church or any organization in the past, now or in the future. I was told by former veterans at the post-office that I worked with that if a real veteran is like a budweiser, than I might qualify as “bud-light.” I want to thank all the REAL VETERANS out there thank you for your dedication and service!

  • jonathan ray selsor
    Posted at 21:25h, 20 February Reply

    I served for 9 years in active duty in the army and in combat am i a veteran?

    Posted at 10:27h, 25 November Reply

    Hi I need Support Military Veteran and War era HOALO of HANOI NOIBAI VN Thank-You

  • Aaron Eddy
    Posted at 00:04h, 12 November Reply

    I served 23 months active duty. My duty station was Guam. I received a 30 day early separation and returned to treasure island and processed out. I later served 4..5 years active reserves in two different Seebee battalions. I went on 4 AT’s during that period. After my EOAS I received a honorable discharge. I am told I do not qualify for any benefits including a VA home loan. Can anyone assist me or point my in the direction of an advocate that would help me?

  • Bonita Peake
    Posted at 21:53h, 11 November Reply

    I would like to know if I am considered a Veteran. I had an honorable discharge after only being in the Navy for just over a year. I was pregnant and my Navy husband submarine was being relocated.

  • Paula Harris
    Posted at 01:39h, 01 October Reply

    If a person finishes basic training but cannot complete AIT due to injury, are they considered a veteran?

  • Will Bentley
    Posted at 23:29h, 17 September Reply

    The law was actually the NDAA 2017-Blumanthal Act, that specified that any reserve/guard who had 20 qualifying federal years toward a reserve retirement was also a veteran. Basically, a reserve/guardsman who was retirement eligible was also then considered a veteran. The law specified that veteran status obtained under the Blumanthal Act did not qualify the veteran for any veterans benefits…it was only so they were lawfully considered federal veterans. They may or may not have qualified for some veterans benefits anyway, because not all veterans benefits require “veteran status.”

    Good Luck,

  • Will Bentley
    Posted at 23:22h, 17 September Reply

    If you served one day of active service as a Regular, or were called up for at least one day of Title 10 contingency orders as a Reserve, and have a discharge “other than dishonorable,” then you meet the requirements of law in 38 US Code 101 to be a “statutory veteran.” So, if during a baseball game or whatever the announcer says, “All of the veterans, please rise…,” you should feel free to rise because by US law you are a veteran.

    However, as to entitlement for veteran benefits, that may vary. Merely being a “veteran” under the statute is not the same as being qualified for any individual veterans benefit. While not all benefits require more than one day’s “active service” as defined under 38 USC 101, many do.

    One of the biggest loopholes that leads directly to not only statutory veteran’s status, but also eligibility for many veterans benefits, is being discharged or retired for a service-connected disability. Additionally, being rated by VA for any service-connected disability will also qualify you as a veteran and open up the doors for other veterans benefits.

    Anyone who doubts their eligibility should contact the VA directly, or use a Veterans Service Officer from their County or a nonprofit like the Disabled Veterans of America, and ask for an official VA determination of their veterans status, and their eligibility for any veterans benefits.

    Good luck,

  • Will Bentley
    Posted at 23:12h, 17 September Reply

    If you were separated from either the Regulars or reserves due to a service-connected condition, such as a bad back, or cancer, or whatever, then as of that date you were a veteran. A medical discharge or medical retirement from the military is the Golden Ticket as far as veteran’s status and benefits go.

    To determine what benefits you are eligible, you need to contact the VA directly. You should find your nearest County Veteran’s Service Officer (every county in the US has at least one), and ask them to help you determine your eligibility for VA benefits at the federal and state levels.

    Good Luck,

  • Gordon R Ford Jr.
    Posted at 19:49h, 08 May Reply

    I served 174 days after Infantry School. I served in 2003 and 2004 as an active duty soldier. I served during the Global War on Terror at Ft. Campbell though I never was deployed.. My discharge was Honorable for medical reasons. I think since I served more than 90 days active duty in a time of war that I am a legal veteran. I am a PFC from AFJROTC completion.. I initially was a Special Forces candidate but could not finish training. 81 ASVAB 81 DLAB, National Defense Medal, Army Service Ribbon and Global War on Terror Medal. 9 months and 13 days total including Basic and AIT. I was also a West Point Candidate with a Presidential Nomination Dad is retired Air Force. I am on Social Security Disability at 35 but I would like to know what Veteran Status I have and what benefits I may have with the VA.

  • John
    Posted at 22:08h, 18 April Reply

    I am trying to help my Father qualify for VA Aid and Attendance Pension. VA Claims he has no Active Service. In 35 Years (1950-1985) of Combined Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Military Service he must have qualified service or active duty. Air Force Pay Records no longer exist before 1968 or 1969 so there is no way to validate his pay status from 1950-1968.. He was never issued a DD214 only NGB Form 22″s that have no pay status on them. Any advice?

    • Cory L
      Posted at 15:32h, 16 May Reply

      I’m not sure what VA aid you are referring to, but if it is VA compensation, that will be difficult. You’ll have to show his condition is service connected.
      Try looking at any other documents your Father has. For example, awards, military orders, schools, etc.
      Awards can be tied to active duty time, as can schools.
      You Father for sure had active duty time, hopefully you can “find” it. Good luck!

  • womansgirls
    Posted at 11:09h, 14 April Reply

    The term “ service-connected ” means, with respect to disability or death, that such disability was incurred or aggravated, or that the death resulted from a disability incurred or aggravated, in line of duty in the active military, naval, or air service . The term “ State home” means a home established by a State (other than a possession) for veterans disabled by age, disease, or otherwise who by reason of such disability are incapable of earning a living. Such term also includes such a home which furnishes nursing home care for veterans.

  • David Ralstin
    Posted at 18:06h, 10 April Reply

    I served in the Air force reserve during the Viet Nam war from 1965 to 1970. I spent 21 weeks in basic training and tech school. My understanding is that I I have some Veteran status. I called a lender to see if I qualified for a VA home loan and I was told yes. I assume I don’t qualify for medical benefits but am I eligible for any other benefits.

  • Rick Saunier
    Posted at 02:11h, 04 March Reply

    I never was really in the Military. All of my ADSW (Active Duty Special Work) never counted for jack. Why call it Active Duty? You wear the uniform, you support, or are directly involved with special operations, and DFAS sends you a check. I really do not need the VA. 32 years, 6 months and 18 days and retired with a check each month from DFAS and zero VA benefits. Thank god in 1984 US Military started paying into SSA. Medicare and TriCare for life is ok.

  • Andrew B
    Posted at 10:02h, 24 February Reply

    Ive just finished reading most of the comments below. While the definition of the terms”veteran” can be interpreted in many ways, here are the facts:

    1. Being injured and released from the service during BASIC training does not quality the individual as a veteran. This type of separation is called an ELS: Entry Level Separation. The individual is not considered a soldier until the completion of BASIC training. There are, of course, exceptions to this general rule- usually involving a trainee being seriously njured while training, etc.

    2. Once a recruit/trainee has completed BASIC training, they officially become a member of the Uniformed Services. Again- this should not be confused with the term “veteran,” as the strict military definition differs.

    3. Completing training (usually BASIC training and AIT – whether OSUT or split option makes no difference) and the initial enlistment obligation (usually 4 years of the required 8 year combined obligation) followed by an official discharge documented on either a DD-215/215/217 or on a DD256 (branch specific suffix) usually results in having official veteran’s status. Army Reservists can also qualify as veterans as long as they have completed at least 6 “good” retirement years.

    4. Once the requirements for veteran’s status have been met, the veteran then becomes eligible for a number of benefits (NOT to be confused with medical benefits or retirement pay) including becoming in hah eligible to apply for a VA bike loan, becoming eligible to apply for burial honors, and becoming eligible to apply for a VIC (Veteran’s ID Card)

    5. Combat time is in no way required for veteran status.

    6. ADT and AT (Active Duty for Training and Annual Training) are NOT counted as active military service time. For example: to qualify for membership in the American Legion, the service member must have served a minimum of one day of active duty during specific periods during which the United States Armed Forces were engaged in a conflict. The service member is not required to have been involved in the conflict, or to have been a combat veteran. However, service members that were on ADT or AT do NOT qualify as having been on “active duty”‘during the conflict.

    While I’m certainly not an official expert on these matters, I investigate these rules extensively while applying for a VA loan. I am a VIC holder and I currently have a VA loan on my house.

  • Bruce M. Rottner
    Posted at 15:33h, 19 February Reply

    I served in the Illinois National Guard from May 1971 through May 1977. Spent four and a half months in basic (Ft. Jackson, SC) and AIT (Ft. Gordon, GA). Went to five, 2-week summer encampments. Honorably discharged and have a DD-214. We were federalized once during this period for a trucker’s strike in Illinois for a week. Other than that, we simply trained one weekend per month at our Armory in Chicago. While I do not want or need any benefits, would I still be considered a “veteran?”

    • Orlando Rojas
      Posted at 18:20h, 29 March Reply

      Same here, I served in The New Jersey National Guards from 1976 to 1982. I assumed that made me a veteran, just not a war veteran. I’ve never inquired about any benefits, since I didn’t really expect the Government to take care of me.
      However, whenever I fill any form that asks if I served in the Military, I answer “Yes”, because I did, I’m not lying.

    • Lynn
      Posted at 21:13h, 03 April Reply

      If you were called to active and you have a DD214, sir, you are a Veteran. Thank you for your service.

  • nelson
    Posted at 02:36h, 05 February Reply

    I was Active Duty from June 1962 to June 1982. Upon discharge I received a letter from D.O.D stating that I was in the IRR, and asked if I was in good health and if I was still proficient in my MOS. I submitted my reply which was answered with a number and statement that I was to Report to Ft. Ord, California if my number was among those called to active duty. Each year for ten years I received the same letter. Does the additional years in the IRR mean that I have served thirty years to final retirement? i know that time in the IRR has no benefits attached.

  • Robert Horton
    Posted at 23:49h, 12 January Reply

    So me being a reservist for 4 years and getting an honorable discharge doesn’t mean i’m a veteran? Great waste of time. the Marine Corps lied to me so many times they can kiss my butt. Never did a thing for me.

    • Michael Henry
      Posted at 14:59h, 12 February Reply

      Obama signed a bill back in 2016 that allows reservists and national guard members to be considered veterans.

    • bob
      Posted at 19:43h, 14 February Reply

      you suck

    • Y. M. W.
      Posted at 21:44h, 17 February Reply

      I think you read the above information incorrectly. Assuming you did all the requirements for the Reserves (which is noted by your Honorable Discharge and DD214), you are qualified as a veteran.

  • James J. Hanrahan
    Posted at 22:51h, 08 January Reply

    I served 8 years in the USNR, I received an, “Honorable Discharge” but I am not considered a, veteran. I joined the USNR in 1953 when I was 17 years of age. I was still in high school, I was supposed to get discharged the day before I was 21 but my enlistment was changed to 6 years, later to 8 years! None of this was ever given to me as an option, they just changed the rules after I signed up. I’m not complaining about that, I’m just pointing out what happened to my enlistment. I held up my end of the bargain and after all, I never objected to what they did, my complaint is, after serving my time faithfully, I cannot be considered a person who performed my duty, it as though I’d never been in the, Armed Forces at all! At this point, I’m now 84 years of age and I cannot be considered someone who served his country at all! This is not right, is there any group who feels the same as I do and is trying to get recognition for their service? I know there must be many people who served as I did and feel the same as I do. If anyone who is on this site knows about others who are concerned, please contact me and let me know about them.

    • Juan Hernadez
      Posted at 21:03h, 01 February Reply

      Idk how I would feel about it if your were considered a veteran. When I joined it was right after the gulf war and I volunteered with the whole intentions to serve my country and fight and defend to the best of my ability, “not capacity.” See there is a difference I consciously joined at the age of 17 knowing that I would have to kill and possibly die serving and protecting my country as soon as I signed to serve in Active duty army for 8 years. And while I was in Basic training I trained with reservist and national guard who’s intentions for joining was to serve their country knowingly but at the same time avoiding the possibility of having to go to war. Some would even laugh and belittle us active duty for being stupid enough to be in the front line. I never understood the cowardnes behind joining and signing a contract just to assure that you would be safe for 8-20 years from being drafted or deployed to fight in a war, insuring that no matter what their calling active duty, inactive ready reserve or a draft way before they ever even put the reserve and national gaurd on standby and activate your unit to deploy. Idk i wouldn’t consider it fair in my opinion.

      • Wayne Nicholson
        Posted at 02:48h, 10 March Reply

        For a bit of information. During the deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq guard and reservists were deployed right along beside of active duty service members. It was not voluntary. So anyone that joins a guard or reserve unit thinking I will not have to deploy better thank twice. Roughly 45 percent for forces deployed to the war on terror were guard and reserve members with about 18 percent of the casualties from guard and reserve units. So the general statement they are not veterans does not apply. Also some where activated to active status to replace spots deployed in some units.

  • Valerie L Howard
    Posted at 18:10h, 08 January Reply

    My husband was in the army for around a year, maybe less, about 1972 and never left the US and from what he says he got an honorable discharge for mental health issues and he is on SS disability and turns 65 this year but has no paperwork and can barely tell me anything now…where do I even begin to see if he can get benefits since he can give me hardly any information??

    • W. Bentley
      Posted at 22:53h, 07 February Reply

      Google National Archives, DD-214.

      Find the section about requesting public copies of service records.

      Fill out the required form, and specifically cite the “Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).” The FOIA requires the release of as much info as you ask for, that can be done without violating some other law (like the Privacy Act). You might be amazed how much info is publicly releasable about any servicemember.

      You will know his type of discharge, where he served, duty stations, awards, training, combat, other things, but not medical information.

      Make an appointment with your County Veteran’s Service Officer…every county in the US has at least one. Sometimes they are co-located with the VA offices. The VSO can help you get everything else, including potential VA care, VA pension, VA disability compensation, VA Aid & Attendance, etc.

      Good luck,

  • Earnestine Hammons
    Posted at 16:40h, 05 January Reply

    My husband passed away a year ago at age 86 and he was an honorable discharge with 13 years service with 100% disbility, all that being said as a surviving widow,when asked on papers at doctor’s etc if I am a veteran do I answer yes or no?
    Thank you

    • Rick Johnson
      Posted at 20:48h, 17 January Reply

      No, you are not a veteran. I thank you for your “service” in supporting a veteran.

    • Ruby Washington
      Posted at 12:34h, 21 January Reply

      Sincere Condolences for your loss. But No ma’am.. Only individuals who actually served themselves are the actual veteran. Thanks for his years of service and bless you.

    • Michael
      Posted at 18:14h, 24 January Reply

      The answer, unless you have served, is no. Your late husband’s service does not make you a veteran.

    • Beth Schubert
      Posted at 01:33h, 04 February Reply

      Earnestine, you are considered a surviving spouse and a dependent of the veteran. thank you for supporting your serviceman.

  • Tami Lynch
    Posted at 15:36h, 03 January Reply

    How can I find out if my husband is a veteran? I suspect he isn’t even tho he says he is.

    • Juan Hernadez
      Posted at 21:18h, 01 February Reply

      Without getting him in trouble with the law, it’s impossible. Because Its a federal offense and your opening a can of worms. Bèst leaving him a lone if he’s not hurting anyone or recieving any benefits. I have an uncle like that but i let him live his fantasy and i even go along with it. Go to the range shoot, wear full battle rattle and even call by his last name he’s older and wishes they would’ve let him join but he didn’t pass the test cause he couldn’t read a write well. I’m the real veteran but without his encouragement, support and patriotism I probably would’ve never joined. I love him to death and in my eyes he’ll always be a veteran.

      Stolen Valor Act of 2013

      The Stolen Valor Act of 2013 is a United States federal law that was passed by the 113th United States Congress.

    • W. Bentley
      Posted at 22:54h, 07 February Reply

      Google National Archives, DD-214.

      Find the section about requesting public copies of service records.

      Fill out the required form, and specifically cite the “Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).” The FOIA requires the release of as much info as you ask for, that can be done without violating some other law (like the Privacy Act). You might be amazed how much info is publicly releasable about any servicemember.

      You will know his type of discharge, where he served, duty stations, awards, training, combat, other things, but not medical information.

    • BustaMyth
      Posted at 22:11h, 18 February Reply

      Why don’t you just ask your husband if he is a veteran? If he says YES, then he is a veteran. If he says NO, well then he is not a veteran. Simply & easy

  • Lynne
    Posted at 12:29h, 31 December Reply

    How can my brother found out his status when he spent three months in the Navy?He was discharge with an honorable discharge?

    • W. Bentley
      Posted at 22:55h, 07 February Reply

      Google National Archives, DD-214.

      Find the section about requesting public copies of service records.

      Fill out the required form, and specifically cite the “Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).” The FOIA requires the release of as much info as you ask for, that can be done without violating some other law (like the Privacy Act). You might be amazed how much info is publicly releasable about any servicemember.

      You will know his type of discharge, where he served, duty stations, awards, training, combat, other things, but not medical information.

  • Jim
    Posted at 18:16h, 23 December Reply

    180 days “straight” active duty service…qualifies the title of “veteran”, that is by law.
    I certainly feel everyone’s pain, not qualifying to that title… I too had feel into that “grey area”, however my MOS was long and including basic, pushed my dd214 to 210 “straight” active duty days, originally enlisted ARNG, however with those 210 days, I register as RA, plus ARNG.
    Plainly put your veteranship hinges upon Law, just as everything else in this country, sadly without the 180 straight you are not a veteran.
    Just as the National Guard in the Gulf Ops, was there for 178 days, does not qualify for veteran benefits.
    it’s not fair or morale, it’s law to use and abuse the reserves at a cheaper cost. 3664th 83-89.

    • MARIE
      Posted at 06:19h, 04 February Reply

      You are a veteran if you are on active duty less then 2 years honorably discharged because of a metal condition that has happened. My question is what about a person that is decorated with less then 2 years in the awful timing of 1980 or after?. I have read that you are but it could be outdated.

    • Ronald Reed
      Posted at 04:44h, 22 April Reply

      I was in 1 year 23 days, 80 to 81. I have a dd214 and honorable conditions discharge. I had to leave the army because of an incident that still causes panic attacks and so many sleepless nights but was denied medical for my problems because I don’t know exact date and I’m told I’m not a Veteran. Is it because of the date of my service that disqualified me from Vet status?

  • Karen Flener
    Posted at 07:03h, 19 December Reply

    If anyone can help or offer directions: my dad (and a few of his brothers served in the US Army during the years of the Korean War/Conflict. He and his brothers state they served in this conflict/war. My brother calls them all liars and states that they were in the cold war and that because none of them were on front line/ tankers, pilots dropping weapons, then they are not war veterans – they just served. Tried to explain to brother than more than just front liners are war veterans. He has DD214 for my dad but refuses to show or share. He has written my moms obituary and refused to acknowledge my dads service to our great country. How can I find out if in fact my dad was a Korean War vet or “just served in the Army during the Cold War)? Thank you all in advance. Any advice is greatly appreciated. And thanks to all of you who served for your service and sacrifices <3

    • Patricia
      Posted at 09:01h, 03 February Reply

      If you have your father’s ss# or can get it. You can contact the VA and request his records. If you father served in Korea anytime between about 1950 and 1955 he is a korean war vet according to law. However what your brother should keep in mind is that if your father served in Korea at all after 1955 he would still be eligable to join the VFW. Why you ask because the korean war never ended and there was fighting going on all the way up into the 60s. And even when I served in Korea 2007 to 2009 I came home and could still join the VFW. Now if you father served in the US only he would be a veteran of the korean war era. But not a korean war veteran

    • W. Bentley
      Posted at 22:56h, 07 February Reply

      Google National Archives, DD-214.

      Find the section about requesting public copies of service records.

      Fill out the required form, and specifically cite the “Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).” The FOIA requires the release of as much info as you ask for, that can be done without violating some other law (like the Privacy Act). You might be amazed how much info is publicly releasable about any servicemember.

      You will know his type of discharge, where he served, duty stations, awards, training, combat, other things, but not medical information.

  • Daniel
    Posted at 19:12h, 18 December Reply

    Hi had wodered if sighed up in Delayed Entry Program in Army around 1985 while in High School . I ended up moving and not finishing and getting my Diploma and was released from DEP with UnCatorgized Dicharge .So never went into Army read that In DEP your concidered active reserve if so are any of Military services or benefits offered to a person in light of my statements regaring my Question Thanks..

    • Rick Johnson
      Posted at 20:51h, 17 January Reply

      From what you have stated, it would appear that you are not entitled to any veteran benefits.

    • W. Bentley
      Posted at 22:58h, 07 February Reply

      No, members of the DEP are considered members of the Individual Ready Reserve, but until they swear the Oath the second time, and enter active duty to ship off to basic training, they are not entitled to any veteran’s benefits, nor are they veterans.

  • Barb
    Posted at 15:59h, 02 December Reply

    If someone entered basic training but was given a medical discharged before training was complete, does mot count as veteran, correct? I ask because this is a question that has been posed to me by a friend whose husband was in this situation. I did not think it met the definition but thought I would verify. Thank you all for your service and thank you for having this question site!

    • W. Bentley
      Posted at 23:02h, 07 February Reply

      I understand that such an individual, who should have received a disability discharge, would be considered a veteran for having a service-connected disability. However, the rules have changed over the years for entry-level training and how the VA views it. There is only one authoritative Agency to answer this question: submit a request to the VA requesting VA health care. Then submit a second request to the VA requesting service-connected disability compensation. Include all relevant DD-214’s, other separation documents, and the medical records from that time, and from more recently showing a continuation of the injury. The VA will make a formal decision about both requests, which are actually different things, and you will have the chance to appeal either or both decisions. Feel free to talk to your County Veteran Service Officer, every county in the US has at least one, often located with the VA office. Good luck,

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