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What is a "veteran?" One would think that would be an easy question to answer. In the millions of laws passed over two centuries by Congress, you would think that at least one of them would define the term "military veteran."

In actuality, there is no standardized legal definition of "military veteran" in the United States. Whether or not one is considered a "veteran" by the federal government depends entirely upon which veteran program or benefit one is applying for.
March 4, 2008 at 9:15 am
(1) Lenard Engman says:

I had enlisted in the Air Force and was sworn in 4 months prior to my Boot Camp and active duty. This was in 1966 during the height of the Vietnam war.
I was in a serious car accident just one week prior to my Training and I had already received my papers for the Air Force Academy (flight School).
Because of the seriousness of my injuries I was given an Honorable Medical Discharge.
Should I be eligible for benifits from the military in a situation like mine?
I am primarily looking for educational benifits. I did not acutally have any active duty and may not be eligble for some of the benefits…I do not know?
But, my career as a pilot for the Air Force came to an abrupt end because of an accident and I did want to serve at the time very much.
Thank you,
Lenard Engman

February 2, 2011 at 5:59 pm
(2) Jeff Heathman says:

Because you didn’t serve at least 18 months and your injuries didn’t occur because of military training or duties the VA won’t give you any status. http://www.va.gov\benefits

March 18, 2011 at 8:36 pm
(3) randy says:

Do a soldier have to be on active more than 180 days to qualify as a veterans? How much time must be served on active duty to be qualified as a veteran?

May 9, 2011 at 6:42 pm
(4) Fa for Gregory says:

Have PTSD since departing from U.S. Navy and have since received Social Security Disability for my 100% disabilities.
Though VA would not give me a Vet card because I am short 2 mos of two yrs of required service they claim, I am trying to receive any benefits from my service related injury.
Not sure that I can indeed do so but have put in for it and try to keep up with the paper work. Is there a definite period of being enlisted to receive benefits?

March 4, 2008 at 9:26 am
(5) Jennifer says:

Since you were still in the DEP program, I’m not sure how that would work. You may have to actually take your final oath before shipping off, before your actually looked at as enlisted.

March 4, 2008 at 9:35 am
(6) Victor says:

Hey Lenard, I am no expert, but I know that my own educational benefits depended on when I was in the military. I did not get the GI bill, but the only thing available for me was the VEAP (veterans educational assistance program). A $2 for $1 matching program. I think there were also time limits for when I could use these benefits.

I was nominated to the Air Force Academy about 10 years after you, but did not get past the medical review. I was able to enlist in the Navy a few years later and served in the nuclear field aboard a fast attack submarine. We were not at war at the time (unless you count the cold war), so I did not see combat, but consider myself a “military veteran”.

I do believe that those who served directly in combat should be given priority consideration for benefits.

March 4, 2008 at 10:12 am
(7) Diana says:

I just finish reading your article on retirement pay being divided with the ex-spouse. You are very misguided to take all ex-military spouses and lump them into one catagory of taking the military member to the cleaners. I do believe that there should be a better division such as 80/20 split, but to assume that all ex-spouses are raking the member throught the court systems and stealing their retirement is riduclous. I was a Navy wife for 25 years and proud to be one. I serve on each and every base from Ombudsman, MWR and the Red Cross. I always gave more to the command than I expected in return. I offerred my share back to my military husband and he refuse, stating that I stood with him through all of those years and deserved it. I still love the military and would only take what they said I was aloud. I took nothing else!! Shame on you for giving ex-military spouses a black eye. Always a proud military wife.

March 4, 2008 at 10:33 am
(8) Bob Evans says:

Regarding having to have been in combat to be a veteran or combat veterans having preference over non-combat veterans I have very strong feelings. To put any skeptical minds at ease I am a combat medic of the Korean War. It is my opinion that no one can be responsible for when a war breaks out, whether or not one is assigned to a combat unit or any other factor related to being or not being a combat veteran. When an individual enlists or or drafted they agree to go wherever and do whatever they are assigned to do and if that involves combat duty they go. Of course there are those who work at getting the easy way out and manage to stay out of combat by less than honorable means. These I discount as something we will always have with us and if they get more than they deserve, well that’s the way it goes. If you take the oath and are prepared to go where you are sent and do what you are sent to do YOU ARE A VETERAN AND GOD BLESS YOU. You are entitles to all you have coming and qualify for. Bob

March 4, 2008 at 10:34 am
(9) James Arlotta says:

After conscription, induction, and a period of active duty,for record keeping purposes is a VETERAN.
Don’t let any spoiled military brat, battle hardened solider, or bureaucrat tell you otherwise.
You always have legal rights and the opportunity for representation by a branch appointed J.A.G. lawyer. When you are told to sign any forms, Make sure the person you are dealing with explains your rights, and don’t be afraid to make them do this until you understand. This goes as well for mental health purposes, psychiatric evaluations, and consultations with clinical psychologists. Do not let these people make you out to be someone you are not. Make these people perform their jobs properly.

March 4, 2008 at 1:27 pm
(10) John says:

I have always been under the impression that once you served 180 days on ACTIVE duty that you then became a veteran. I may be wrong or misguided but this is what I have been led to believe.

March 4, 2008 at 8:27 pm
(11) Bill says:

I think your right John. The government always makes sure a Guardsman or Reservist is released from their 6 months Active Duty Training on time because if the go 1 day over they are entitled to veterans benefits. In my case I was Federalized for 8 months at a later time and now have 14 months total active service for veterans benefits purposes at the Outpatient Clinic.

March 4, 2008 at 9:12 pm
(12) Ruth Malphrus says:

Please, can someone tell me the answer to my question. After approximately 6 months in DEP I reported to Orlando for Navy basic training(1982). After six of the eight weeks required for basic I was discharged for a medical condition (scoliosis). My discharge papers read “Error in Enlistment”. I was able to draw unemployment on them once I was out. I was also notified by Veterans Affairs a couple of years ago (addressed “Dear Veteran”) that my personal info, along with millions of other past and present military personel, was on the disc that was stolen when the person from the VA took home his/her lap top. So, am I a veteran or what would be my classification? I am now 50+ in years but am very proud to have served what few days I did for Uncle Sam. Thanks to anyone who can help me find my answer.
Ruth Malphrus

March 5, 2008 at 2:29 am
(13) Viergutz, H.J. says:

Websters defines a Veteran
1. One with a long record of service in a particular activity or capacity.
2. One who has been in the armed forces.

Thus, I believe that the 1st definition should erase all doubt as to who is a Veteran.
Personally, I have served 23 years plus in the armed forces of the United States, including service In Korea and Vietnam. For better than thirty years now I am fighting to have my service-connected disabilities properly evaluated by the U.S. Veterans Administration. So far without success. Just as an example, I have completly lost my hearing in my right ear and subsequently experienced a severe hearingloss in the other one. I maintain that the subsequent hearing loss should be considered as a “collateral” disabilty. The VA in its infinate wisdom has assigned me a disabilty rating of 10%, although I can hardly hear. There are some additional issues I am trying to get resolved with this agency but I just wanted to give you one example. ( By the way, if there is anyone out there who can help me, I certainly would welcome it.)
Now to get back to your question “What constitutes a Veteran”, I believe that I AM A VETERAN in more ways than one.

July 20, 2011 at 12:29 pm
(14) Kristen says:

Don’t ever go directly to the VA for your service related disability….go to an AMVET (amvet.org) and they are the liason between you and the VA…you will get better results that way.

March 7, 2008 at 11:40 am
(15) Sue says:

I want to know why this act does not include active duty soldiers that go into a war. My son has been active duty for serveral years. Had a tour in Iraq and now on his 2nd for 15 months. Why would this act not give the 6% interest rate to an active duty solder in a war? He would need the lower interest rate just as much as a soldier pulled into active duty, if not more! Especially soldiers that are going through a divorce where the wife is taking everything through interim support! This act does not cover all soldiers fairly.

April 20, 2008 at 11:45 pm
(16) James Arlotta says:

Unfortunaltely, you all have been fed a big line of “bullsh%$.” Webster’s isn’t the Department of Defense. If that is the case, why am I entitled to benefits? Read your discharge forms carefully before you pass judgement on others’. Like this idiot Ryan Hays. His father was an officer in the USN. He tells me I’m not a veteran. According to the D.O.D. or with other Affected Federal or Non-Federal Agencies. I am a veteran, but not of a foreign war. Once again, “never send a salior to do a solider’s job!”

May 26, 2008 at 7:41 am
(17) Samantha H says:

Ironically for all of you out there debating this, I am going through an on going saga at my VFW post with a member who has questioned my veteran status. I served more than 180 days and although due to injuries I could not serve out my full enlistment, not fight with my along side my battle buddies who are giving their lives on foreign soil for the freedom of others, I am still considered a veteran. I unfortunately was injured early on in trained and mustered my way through all of my mandatory training by going on and off profile in order to save with little bit of strength I had left in my feet and ankles I had left. Unfortunately, this has left me with permanent injuries that will never heal, and the US Army discharged me from Active duty. I too have seen those who have dodged the war zone by less than honorable means in my physical training rehabilitation platoon and understand why they may give people like myself with honorable intentions to fight and stay in less than cordial discharges that will have us fighting the rest of our lives for the benefits we truly deserve. However, A MILITARY VETERAN as defined for ACTIVE DUTY enlistees only (reservists and national guardsmen are state run programs) is considered to be 180 days or more of consecutive servicer in which the soldier, sailer, airman, or marine has become permanent party and has been discharged with an honorable, other than honorable, or medical discharger ( that did not pertain to prior conditions, not known to the military during enlistment ). Now, remember, because we are a nation of states, every state’s laws differ and therefor the definition of a veteran for NG and reservists will vary and the benefits that Active duty soldier can receive from their states veterans programs can also vary due to varying state legislations. Check your laws, push for better packages for those veterans who did not choose to leave the service because of injuries caused by service. These are the veterans who are fighting for their rights! God Bless everyone who has served and served honorably, you are the true Veteran!

June 2, 2008 at 9:25 am
(18) sue mcclure says:

The biggest misconception is that being a veteran is the same as being a retired veteran. We have many people who believe they should have the same benefits given to retired military. The benefits and use of facilities awarded to those who have retired with 20 or more years are not given to those defined as veterans. Veterans who are medically discharged for service related injuries are apparently in the netherland zone, as those are the ones who feel they should have those benefits and their needs to be a better understanding of how they are classified.

June 21, 2008 at 1:41 pm
(19) Sam says:

Hi Rod, I really enjoyed your post so I have entered it into yearblook.com. Yearblook.com is a compitition to find the best blog posts and winners are printed in a book. Good Luck.

August 13, 2008 at 9:33 pm
(20) James Arlotta says:

This nation, country, piece of land we call the continental United States of America is quite a place. Veterans status as Sue McClure has stated is not understood by other vets. There should be no “contest of egos” among veterans. You served, you’re a veteran.
Veterans’ seem to forget that the almighty D.O.D. and the branches they “worship” screw-up all the time which makes me revisit this board again.
I served briefly in the USN and they screwed up severely with discharge and medical records.
The time I spent as an Army R.O.T.C. cadet served me better than basic training in the USN. I learned more about the military in Army ROTC than the screw-up navy!
I learned to hold the “higher ups” accountable and to not be affraid

August 19, 2008 at 2:34 am
(21) Emily says:

According to Government regulations, the definition of a Veteran is the “Any, Any, Any” rule. Which means, Any person, Any Branch, And legnth of time served. If you were in the military for one day, broke both your legs and were discharged, you would have every veteran benefit of a 25 year retiree. You do have to be sworn in in order to be in the military, though. Hope this helped, I was wondering the same thing and Google saved me, lol.

March 11, 2009 at 9:59 am
(22) Wayne says:

I am blessed with a functioning mind that allows me to reasonably assume and calculate from context or clear facts. Am I a veteran though? Governmental definitions or a lack there of have confounded me. Served ’86-’90 in NY Army National Guard, no wartime service. Once a month and active duty training in basic and AIT. What say you regarding my status as a VETERAN.

March 29, 2009 at 8:34 am
(23) AGR says:

I’m an AGR with 8 years of active duty service and 9 total incluiding 2 years active on title 10 order Noble Eagle I’m being medically discharge and being told that will only have one pension either AF or VA which ever is higher because I dont have 20 years in service just need some clarification. Thanks

May 1, 2009 at 10:35 am
(24) Al says:

I too am a touch confused as to being labeled a veteran. I have never served more than 180 days on active duty. I spent just under 21 years in the Wisconsin Army National Guard. I have some benefits and again I dont have other benefits. I do get a retirement pension and was honorably discharged. Lets put what a veteran is to rest. How about my status? What do you people say?

May 15, 2009 at 8:44 pm
(25) darrell says:

veteran= (noun) a person who wrote a check payable to the U.S.A., and the amoun “up to and including my life”

October 28, 2009 at 11:10 am
(26) melinda says:

I am trying to help someone, he is prior military, 10 yrs as a ranger in the US ARMY. He got out in 1994, since then it has been difficult for him to land a civil service job or anything decent. He is currently hitting 44 and his questions of benefits are beyond my knowledge. Can anyone help me on this? does he qualify as a veteran or for even any benefits. I took him down to the local VA center but no one seems to be able to help me….can you help me, help this guy?

November 4, 2009 at 6:34 pm
(27) CARMEN says:

I was married during the Vietnam war and was divorced 19 years later. He only served 2years, but is receiving veteran benefits. I would like to know if I am entitled to any benefits now, or in the event he should pass away?

May 19, 2010 at 12:39 am
(28) Jacque Clayton says:

I am also confused i have served in the U.S. Army from 7/1976 to 11/1976, U.S. Navy Reserve 5/18 to 6/78, U.S. Army National Guard 4/80 to 1/86 i have 3 DD-214′s,1 NGB form 22, all under honorable discharges none under “trainee discharges” or “enlisted in error” would i also not be considered a veteran even though i also was notified that my name was also on computer that was taken home by a VA employee

July 15, 2010 at 11:29 pm
(29) mademistake says:

What if you have an OTH discharge, are you a veteran

September 3, 2010 at 8:25 pm
(30) Edward says:

The previous posts are very interesting. Until fairly recently, I did not really consider myself to be a veteran. This was because I had already been told that you were a either a Korean Vet, Viet Nam Vet, WWII Vet, Grenada Vet, Beirut Vet..

Interestingly, I was active duty for Beirut and Granada. In fact, I missed being sent to Lebanon by chance. My flight back to the states after a NATO excercise was the last to return to the US. Those after me went to Beirut.

I proudly served in the Marines for just shy of 9 years. It took me almost 20 years to finally realize that I, too, am a veteran. I may not have had to fight, been injured in combat (back injury due to weight lifting by order of my OIC does not count), but I am still a vet. I was just as willing to go. And just as willing to condemn those that tried to weasel out of their obligation by suddenly becoming conscientious objectors.

If you served with honor, I am proud to call you my brother or sister.

Semper Fi.

September 3, 2010 at 8:30 pm
(31) Edward says:

BTW – As for the OTH question – You would still be a vet, but a vet who is not eligible for benefits. About the same as me with an honorable discharge.

How’s that?

September 10, 2010 at 5:29 pm
(32) Dave says:

I’m in the gray area I guess however, I served in USAF basic training and was medically discharged for an old football injury. I enlisted in the USN my senior year and was injured soon after playing football so I never swore in, but I enlisted for the USAF in 2003 we were at war with Iraq and what was then left in Afghanistan. I was 1 week from graduation and needed a cold pack, some docs reviewing my medical history asked me about my shoulder injury which wasn’t giving me problems but they wanted to xray it. Xray came back bad and I was sent to med holdover, my TI told me even tho I didnt get the chance to deploy or go to tech school I would still be considered a vet. I don’t feel I earned vet status and nor do I want any of the medical benefits but I am interested in knowing my status when it comes to applying for government positions. I think I made up for my lack of time in by working above and beyond at my last job training our incoming soldiers on weapons simulators, I know that doesn’t count for service but I was very proud to help in all the ways I did. Anyways would I be considered a vet? my dd214 also states medically discharged and eligible for re-enlistment. thanks.

November 2, 2010 at 7:10 pm
(33) Major Payne says:

Here is someone that looks like they actually did their homework!


November 3, 2010 at 2:10 am
(34) Edward says:

I entered the USN 11/76 to 01/03/77. My kids wanted me to go to the Veterans celebration at their school. I felt that since I had not served 180 days, that I should not go. But as for my kids, I went anyway, but I took my two (2) brothers pic one served 30 yrs in the Marines, and the other served 5 yrs in the Army. Both of whom I am very proud of. One student ask me a question. “Are you a Veteran?” I did not know what to say to him, but that I had served. I was discharged as “military unsuitability” meaning that I could not ajust. What am I. I would like to know. If anyone can help me I would appriciate it This is something that has been going around in my mind since 1977

November 4, 2010 at 7:23 pm
(35) Travis says:

I took the oath for the Navy on June 2, 1998, after a year in the DEP. After 5 months and a diagnosis of a Personality Disorder I received an Entry Level Separation. I do not want Veteran Benefits, but I want to know if I am considered a veteran.

November 11, 2010 at 1:37 pm
(36) Rogue7 says:

I, (name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.
If you raised your right hand and said this and then got out you’re a VET. Any real Soldier, Sailor, Airman, or Marine would consider you a brother or sister. Of course we’d give you a hard time if you did actually make it only a day or never made it through Basic, but having served for the last 25 years and being a Combat VET of Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom, and Enduring Freedom Afghanistan I would still shake your hand and say thanks for your service.
Eligibility for American Legion membership is limited to those honorably discharged veterans and current personnel of the United States Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard or Air Force who served at least one day of active duty during any of the following periods: look them up.
Now as far as benefits and entitlements, that would have to be taken up with the VA, which I’m sure has a criteria for certain entitlements.
To Samantha H, I would say, that member has every right to question your status. I don’t think he questioned whether you are a VET, but rather your membership in the VFW. By your own admission you didn’t fight on foreign soil so you haven’t earned the privilege to be in the VFW (unless you went to Korea). The cheesy GWOT and NDSM don’t count.
Thanks for your service

November 27, 2010 at 10:05 pm
(37) Ernie says:

I have one simple question, I served my full four years in the Air Force. Honorably discharged, and never saw any wartime, but if needed i signed up and was ready at all times. But as God decided during my time thier was no war. So with that being said i want to say with the utmost respect to all whom have served during wartime -”THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE” and that goes to ALL who have not either. So my question:
4 years of Service
Honorably Discharged
“Am I to be considered a Veteran of these United States?”… Some have told me I am not. What say you? Anyone please!!!!!!!!!!!!11

April 9, 2011 at 1:40 pm
(38) LadyVet says:

I served 1993-1997 in the U.S. Air Force and am a PROUD female veteran…Am I a Desert Storm Veteran if I did not have combat time?

August 17, 2011 at 9:43 am
(39) Rob says:

You are not a Desert Storm veteran. You have to have spent at least 30 days in a an area designated a combat zone. I know, I was there. 1st Marine Division, Task Force Papa Bear. 7mo 17 days in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

May 30, 2011 at 1:16 pm
(40) AL ROSE says:


August 9, 2011 at 10:30 am
(41) J Gove says:

Prior to September 1980 if you served 1 day you recieved full VA benifits. After September 1980 you must serve 2 years to recieve VA benifits.

September 21, 2011 at 9:18 pm
(42) Jim B says:

I had the old Viet Nam Era GI Education Bill after being discharged in 1976 and used it. Then I went back on Active Duty (Title 32 AGR) as a recruiter once again from 2002 to 2007. Will I be eligible for the Post 9-11 GI Bill in October 2011? From what I have read, it sounds that I may be eligible but not sure.

October 31, 2011 at 4:51 pm
(43) Ron says:

I am a Vietnam veteran. I served in Vietnam from December 15, 1968

October 31, 2011 at 4:55 pm
(44) Ron L says:

I am a Vietnam veteran. I served in Vietnam with the US Army
from December 15th 1968 to December 14th 1969. In July 1970 I went AWOL from the scars of the war. I never returned and was eventualy given a discharge under less than honorable conditions. Am I entitled to any benefits because of my war service.

November 7, 2011 at 9:15 pm
(45) Drew says:

I enlisted in the Army Reserve in Dec 1969. I was selected for a program the AR had at the time to bolster its training capability. I went from Basic to Leadership School to AIT and then to Drill Sargent school, which I completed and was promoted to E5. Total time on active duty was just under 8 months. Upon completion of the program I was attached to HQ Company and served as a Drill Sgt for two years and then NCOIC of an M16 training range. I finished my 6 year commitment in 1975 with the rank of E7 Sgt First Class and an Honorable Discharge. I was flatly denied any and all veterans benefits, including education assistance and VA mortgage. As much as I would like to feel that I deserve Veteran status, apparently DOD does not agree. I have always resented that!

November 10, 2011 at 11:05 am
(46) Brandon says:

Would i be considered a vet? You would think i would have to deploy to actualy be one, but i went to basic training last year and completed up to 12 weeks of the 14 week OSUT i was attending, and i got sick with bronchitis. I then missed to much training and had the option to leave and come back if i so choosed down the road, i told them i would leave to go back home. So, i got an honorable discharge. Would i be considered a vet? In terms of, people asking me etc… Or do i need to server for multiple years…? I still have my millitary id, etc.

November 11, 2011 at 7:04 am
(47) Dan says:

There isn’t really a clear cut definition of “veteran” when it comes to semantics and technicalities (which is probably why you’re asking). However, by the commonly understood meaning of the term veteran, you would not be considered one. You did not complete the basic training required of every soldier. Many Marines wash out of boot camp due to illness, injury, failure to adapt, etc. Interestingly enough, I too contracted bronchial pneumonia during boot camp. But back to the point, you were not only a veteran, but not really active duty. Keep in mind that reservists are required to complete the same basic training. Finally, and this applies to a lot of the people on this page, you have to ask yourself if it is even right to claim the title of veteran and especially military benefits. Is it the right thing to do? There are multiple wars going on with American service members dying almost every day. Those are our veterans. It is honorable that you wanted to serve, and that you put a lot of work into it, but ultimately, you did not finish. In fact, you chose not to, from my understanding. This holiday is for those who sacrificed, those who at some point weren’t sure if they’d even see their loved ones again.

November 28, 2011 at 1:38 pm
(48) john says:

I served in the US Marine Corps from 1971 – 1973. Most of the Marine combat units were pretty much out of Viet Nam then, though Viet Nam still had troops in place and things were not quiet settled as the end of the conflict. I did not have any combat time but I was in the USMC & back then the corps could have been sent right back into combat. I was ready trained to be sent at any moments notices. Am I qualified to at least hold a VA card stating I am a US VET?
P/S for the women and men who have served in combat I thank you from the deepest part of my heart!

December 27, 2011 at 11:05 am
(49) james king says:

I am in a combat zone,recieved a LOD (hurnia) and have b een here 4 months they may send me home ,Do i recieve any benifits am I considered a vetran

December 29, 2011 at 12:47 pm
(50) Richard says:

I joined the naval reserve in June 1983. I got sworn in. In December 1983 I did navy boot camp in Orlando, FL. In February 1984, I did “A” School in Meridian, MS. In April 1984, released from active duy with Honorable and received my DD 214. I served six years in the Naval Reserve and was discharged Honorably in June 1989. My question is: Am I a Veteran? I don’t care about benefits but am I considered a veteran?

January 22, 2012 at 7:00 am
(51) Steve says:

I have a quick question. I am not in good health, am 45 and just got on workers disability last year.
Back in 1990, I wanted to join the Coast Guard and after being promised several things (that wouldn’t come through), I went through the testing and everything and they had my medical history as well as my father’s and saw my father was mentally ill, and I had been hospitalized for 3 months at 12 years old for and diagnosed with a mental illness.
They got me to join anyway (this was just before the first Gulf War, but I didn’t know about it at the time). But I got into basic and with my clinical/bipolar depression and the 3 months I spent in the hospital for it at 12 years old, they took me anyway.
After about two weeks into basic, I went from a severely manic episode into a severely depressed episode (especially when I found out they lied about where I would be stationed and what I’d be doing…going to war instead.
My depression got deeper and deeper, and then about 4 or 5 days (I was in for about 27 days boot camp), I just fell into a clinical depression. And when I had, I saw a couple doctors including the shrink in boot camp, they identified my severe depression and gave me an Honorable Medical Discharge after about 27 days. Would I be eligible for any benefits? Please let me know soon so I know if to apply or not. Thank you very much.

January 30, 2012 at 2:04 pm
(52) scott says:

I enlisted in the Army in 1987, and went to Ft. Benning Georgia on April 1 of that year, in the next confusing 48 hours, there was a fire drill, at which point I tripped on the fire stairs and hurt my knee, I was sent to a “holdover” unit until Doctor at Martin Army Hospital determined I was unfit for service, and sent home on June 10 of that year. Medical disqualification, does it mean active duty served for 2 months, and I could qualify for medical benefits from the VA center here in Maine? Life dealt me Diabetes and heart issues, including quintuple bypass, any advice where to ask further? Thank you

March 29, 2012 at 1:37 am
(53) Frank says:

Scott, did the army declare you unfit because of a bum knee? Or was it for some other condition? If the knee injury caused a permanent disability you should have been entitled to treatment for that. But if you were declared medically unfit for some other reason your out of luck–180 days continuous active service and something other than a dishonorable discharge gets you veterans benefits. But it never hurts to go to your local VA to help clarify it, you can also try applying online. To the endless debate about veterans status, I am not a combat veteran, the war was over when I entered active service, but four years later I received the Vietnam era GI bill, am eligible for a VA home loan, receive my medical care from my local VA hospital, and volunteer with a local veterans outreach. My government thinks I’m a veteran and I think I’m a veteran.

April 2, 2012 at 10:21 pm
(54) David R. says:

After 17 years working as a federal government contractor, I discovered this year that, by definition, I am an Army veteran. Working with military leaders and war heroes, I might not have claimed so; but, this is what I have discovered, as follows:

From http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/topics/indigent/index.htm

38 Code of Federal Regulations, Sec. 3.7

§3.7 Individuals and groups considered to have performed active military, naval, or air service.

The following individuals and groups are considered to have performed active military, naval, or air service:

(o) Persons ordered to service.

(1) Any person who has:

(ii) Been selected or drafted for such service, and has reported according to a call from the person’s local draft board and before final rejection, or

Here are my points to substantiate the claim:

• The first (Vietnam era) lottery was held December 1, 1969 (only year including all ages 18-25)
• The highest number drafted in this group of men (for 1970) was 195
• My birthdate: May 6, came up 155
• I received my “order to report for induction” while living in El Paso, Texas
• I reported to the induction facility in downtown El Paso, TX
• After looking at the bottom of both feet (planters warts), I was dismissed prior to taking oath
• The July 1, 1970 lottery (for 1971 induction) was only those 18 ½ years old

All these years, I am an Army veteran.

May 30, 2012 at 7:07 pm
(55) Shiner says:

I was Navy reserve from June 1966 to December 1967 Active duty from Sept 1967 to December 1967 active duty on a Navy Destroyer based in Pearl harbor I was told i’m NOT a a Veteran. No-one knows ?

June 9, 2012 at 6:32 pm
(56) Barbara Rose says:

I enlisted in the US Army in June 1974, and completed Basic Training and most of AIT. I married while in AIT, and requested a discharge due to this. When I was in out processing, we were all told we were veterans. That was my first enlistment – it lasted 4 months 10 days. I have sent enlisted twice more, in the US Army Reserves, for a total of 9 years 4 months 10 days. Back then, in 1974, if you were in 4 months, you were considered a veteran. In 1976 or so, they changed that to six months. Are we grandfathered in as veterans, or did they just kick us to the curb again? I use the VA now, as a non service connected veteran, paying copays if needed. Yet, now I hear,that they have to have more time than that to be considered a veteran, and it is time in the military other than for training purposes. How can that be? We’re on active duty when we’re in basic or AIT what’s the difference?

June 16, 2012 at 12:51 am
(57) carmen says:

27) CARMEN says:

I was married during the Vietnam war and was divorced 19 years later. He only served 2years, but is receiving veteran benefits. I would like to know if I am entitled to any benefits now, or in the event he should pass away?

Fast forward today, i too am Carmen with same question only that my ex-husband joined the army from 1978-1983. he too is receiving benefits married for 16yrs divorce in 2008. i believe he just got his benefit 2 yrs ago. he’s not married, I am I also entitled i am entitled for his SS?

June 27, 2012 at 9:09 am
(58) Matt says:

I was wondering if someone can help me out, this is something that has troubled me for years. I signed up for the Air Force back in 1999. I went to MEPs passed all the physical tests took the oath and flew out to Lackland Airforce base. I was there barely a week and hurt my back when I had to lift a heavy bag of clothes and run with it. Before signing up, I told the recruiter along with my dad that I had some previous back trouble but wasn’t bothering me at the time, in fact I was running and lifting weights on a regular basis. However when I got hurt in boot camp and the doctor saw my x-rays, he asked how I got in and that my back was a mess. The Air Force said that I came in under false pretenses and made me sign papers like I was never there and was sent home. I was honorably discharged, still have all the paper work to prove it. I think this is total bull! and I think I should be eligible for some or at least half of some sort of benefits from the VA and or Government. I was completely honest upon entering the military and I don’t appreciate being made to feel a liar. Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Would it be a waste of time to go to the VA and try and talk to someone?

July 7, 2012 at 6:54 am
(59) Siu Boilard says:

Excellent post but I was wanting to know if you could write a litte
more on this topic? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Bless you!

August 7, 2012 at 3:09 pm
(60) Sandra says:

My dad was drafted into the army. He went over to Korea during time of “no war” he received a honorable discharge. He has been denied all VA benefits, for the reason stating he was not in war time. Is this right? He served his country was and can’t get any kind of benefit not even allowed to join the VFW! Isn’t there someone we can contact to see if this rule has changed. I heard congress changed this. Please help. And exasperated VET and his daughter.

August 30, 2012 at 12:26 am
(61) Leah says:

Sandra, I’m not sure about the benefits, however, the reason your father can’t join the VFW is because it stands for Veterans of Foreign Wars, meaning that a member had to have fought in a war.

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October 31, 2012 at 9:59 am
(64) Dennis Claflin says:

I know a person who is retired Navy after serving 20 years however, these 20 years were all reserve. Is he or is he not considered a veteran?


November 3, 2012 at 4:58 pm
(65) Tammy says:

I was in the Los Angeles Job Corps from 1980-1982. We were undersigned by the military. On the first day, I had to sign a notice that stated if we went to war during the time I was in Job Corps, that I would agree to serve in the military. (This was prior to the Gulf Wars). My question is, does this make me a veteran?

November 11, 2012 at 10:32 am
(66) angelo says:

am i a vet was in the navy reserve for 8 years but never saw acitive
service a have a honorably discharge from the navy . dated 8/1960 thank you

November 11, 2012 at 4:13 pm
(67) MezaUSMC says:

So, my husband and I were discussing this fact whether one is considered a veteran or not. We concluded that there are two different types of veterans; veteran and a combat veteran. We concluded that you are considered a veteran if you served your country during wartime or during times of peace. We also concluded that to be a combat veteran you must serve your country in time of war in a combat zone; such as Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, and Afghanistan, etc. By the way I have served 6 years in the Marine Corps, but I have not seen combat. My husband served honorably for 8 years in the USMC and he did a tour in Iraq and Afhganistan.

November 29, 2012 at 10:06 pm
(68) Mike says:

I enlisted in the USMCR for a 6 year hitch. I was on active duty for 180 days. I served my 2 week summwr camp each year for the balance of my enlistment. I was honerably discharged (separated) from the MSMCR at the end of my 6 year contract.

I do not want any VA benefits but would like to know if I am considered a Veteran with no benefits?

December 9, 2012 at 7:33 pm
(69) Bryan says:

I was Navy reserves for 8 years, never went active. Do I receive any benefits for my time served?

February 4, 2013 at 11:48 pm
(70) John says:

I was also in the Navy Reserves for 8 years. I spent a year on active duty training (which I am told does not count as the 180 of continuous active duty time – no problem) and 7 years as a reservist in a helicopter squadron. Never went active (at least not for 180 days).

Never expected benefits when I was honorably discharged and frankly wasn’t looking for any. Can I be still called a Veteran – just not one who receives benefits?

February 19, 2013 at 8:33 pm
(71) Rich Romano says:

I was i the last draft of 1972. I elected to enlist into the US Navy in August 1972 instead. Because I enlisted I was eligible to take tests and apply for the A-school I wished to attend. I was formally enlisted into the Navy in May of 1973 to cooincide with basic, leave, and the start of A-school. 21 days into boot camp, I was informed that my eye sight did not meet the requirements or the A-school that I was guaranteed for and did not opt for an alternative schooling. Now this was my decision to choose that school, but for 9 months they knew the vision requirements and allowed me to be swore me in anyway. I was given a “Honorable Discharge” based on The US Navy’s Breech of Contract. I consider myself a Veteran and I am well aware that my 180 days were not met for VA benefits,which I am not looking for. Does anyone have an issue with the fact that I do consider myself a vet? I would like to hear what the consensus is. Thank you

March 22, 2013 at 4:00 am
(72) Andy says:

I ets in 6 months, volunteered twice to deploy. Never got to go. I don’t consider myself a vet since I never fought in combat. It’s kind of funny people on asking if they can call their self’s veteran for washing out of boot camp.

April 9, 2013 at 3:14 pm
(73) TED SEMPLE says:

I would guess there are a good number of people who have my military history and feel as though we aren’t even considered Veteran’s by most people’s standards anymore. I went to Basic in June of 1977 and served 3 consecutive years active and then the next 3 as “inactive”. That was the basic deal most were offered when we joined back then. My biggest regret is that I didn’t stay in because I couldn’t get the duty station I requested IF I “re-upped”. My first duty station was in Korea about 20 miles from the DMZ but as time went on started to LOVE it! The first reason I LOVED going to Korea was my Dad served in the Marines during the “Korean WAR”. Referring to that as a “Police Action” or any other term people called it, it was a WAR! Some of the guys I was serving with on our detachment had extended 2, 3 & 4 times to stay “in country”. I filled out my extension papers to stay in country, which included another 3 year hitch but my “butter ball louie” lost the paperwork and didn’t tell me until it was too late to file them again.Looking back I admit I was 21 but, at least with the “reup” decision was acting like a 5 year old. “You don’t send me where I want, then I’ll take my toys and go home”. Of course back then if you did 10 years you would get half retirement monthly money for the remainder of my life at the age of 28! STUPID ME! I understand that those who bravely served during an”active war time” should be treated as special as they are, in fact, they really deserve even more! My disappointment is how those who served in the type of timeline as I did. It’s as though we aren’t even considered Veterans, and that hurts. May God Bless all who are serving or who have served!

June 7, 2013 at 1:18 pm
(74) lois west says:

My husband was in the Air Force from July 1955 to July 1959. I want to know what medical benefits he has available to him. Please e-mail me any information you can. thank you

June 7, 2013 at 2:00 pm
(75) Dave Mann says:

I was in the Naval Air from January, 1967 to Dec. 1972. I spent 5 months on active duty and 5 plus years on active reserve status. A 6 year obligation. I know I do not qualify for any benefits. But, when people ask about my military service, what am I? Am I a veteran even though the VA says I am not?

August 12, 2013 at 9:16 am
(76) David Troy says:

If you knew the criteria the VA uses for benefits qualification (90 days total w/ 1 day during a conflict) before you departed from military service & didn’t stick around long enough to retire &/or see any COMBAT, you Might just be a pathological con-artist. But then, you already knew that didn’t you? The question isn’t really who’s a veteran, (someone who perishes or survives the stress & horrors of combat) but who satisfies Congress’s requirements to get medical &/or monetary compensation from taxpayers. BOO!

August 14, 2013 at 4:58 pm
(77) John Foley sr. says:

I did 7 years in the Army National Guard as a combat Eng. I’m not looking for any benefits . I did my time in the service all was good .I know, I’m a veteran the V A said so in a letter to me over something. I got my DD214 and my Honorable Discharge Papers. I don’t come under any benefit package that ok by me. I’m working for the u s government they gave me points for my service. I am a military veteran. a AMVET Thank you very much ! ! !

August 17, 2013 at 4:01 am
(78) Jim says:

Personally I’ve struggled with my own veteran status to some degree. My father and many of my uncles were WWII Army combat vets…and my father was a Korea combat vet. My brother served in Vietnam with the Navy. I joined the USMC in July 1974 and because I served 6 months on active duty before May 1975, I am officially classified as a “Vietnam Era” vet and received all of the benefits that every one else in that classification received. I served my 4 years well and was honorably discharged as a E-5 but was never put in harm’s way overseas. So I’ve always been very careful when I describe my service and clearly acknowledge that I am a USMC vet but not a Vietnam vet IMO. I proudly wear my USMC vet cap but would never, never wear a Vietnam Vet cap. That is out of respect for my father and brother’s service and the service of Vietnam vets who actually were put in harm’s way.

August 23, 2013 at 4:32 pm
(79) james lambert says:

My father passed away on July 14, 2013. He served 6 years in the Va. National Guard in Portsmouth, Va. He was in from June 5th, 1961 to June 4th, 1967. I went to the VA to see if he was eligible for a VA burial. I was told that he would have to had served 20 years and drew a retirement pension , or during his 6 years, serve 6 months active duty. I have his NGB form 22. It is hardly readable. I can’t see if he was active duty. I assumed that if he went through boot camp and served 6 years, he was a Vet.???? Can someone answer this for me??

September 26, 2013 at 12:34 pm
(80) kenneth erlenbusch says:

i was in the army guard during 9/11. my past medical history was excellent. i was over at fresh kills for 4 weeks. 5 years later i ended up being diagnosed with cold. i was in the hospital in 08 when my co came in and said for me to run my time out wich was 3 weeks.i now have cold,anxiety ,high blood pressure, and ptsd from 9/11. the governor was the one that ordered us there. i live in breathing agony and deal with my ptsd every day. they are trying to say i am not a vet and i cannot get help from the va hospital. does anyone know who i can get help from? i feel even though it was not combat that i was still activated and considered active duty while there that i deserve help. please email me at eastcoastcandlesnj@yahoo if you can help. i have been fighting them for 7 years

October 2, 2013 at 8:45 am
(81) Craig says:

I enlisted in the Navy in October 1978 and was discharged from Great Lakes, approx. 3 weeks later.. This was due to injury in Left leg(cartilage torn) . They gaveme a re3e rating.. (did not know could reenlist after fixed) no one told me.
I was operated on right leg about 2 years earlier for the same thing and passed all physical requirements, including a second opniion from outside doctor.
Was not informed of possible benefits that may receive, considering that injury was during basic training.,
Note,, The Navy or other picked up tabfor operation on leg, and after care.
Now have other related problems this.. Is there anyway to get some compensation, and also need to find medical enlisted records and discharge records(medical) seem to be lost..

November 11, 2013 at 9:36 am
(82) ApacheGirl says:

I have a question.. So my uncle is claiming to be a USMC a veteran but yet he went Awol.. no one in the family can recall that he actually went into service. N when u ask him about it he has no proof to show he was..

November 11, 2013 at 2:20 pm
(83) Doug says:

I too got medical discharge during the “P” days before week 1. I am considered a veteran but with no benefits. The only I have seen different was when I applied for school loans I was considered independent even though I still lived at my parents house at the time. So my parents didn’t have to co-sign anythng.

November 13, 2013 at 8:27 am
(84) BUD CARTER says:


November 18, 2013 at 3:37 am
(85) Vicki says:

I have a question. If someone was in the navy during 1964 for 3 months is it even remotely possible they would have been sent on a secret mission as a navy seal? His discharge papers show the same code as Groerge Bush’s shows.
My son is a military history expert and says no way, especially after discussing the subject and finding this person was vague about his weapon and claimed his weapon had a laser sight.
I need to know if and how much this person is lying about his past.

November 18, 2013 at 10:39 am
(86) Exidor says:

Vicki – SEAL Training in the Navy, BUD/S, (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL School) is an “Unclassified” Navy School and much like any other school in the Military. It’s not a big secret where BUD/S is located and there’s no secret of what is taught there.

I don’t think it’s really changed much – considering back then a SEAL had to have a source rate (meaning he had to go to an “A” school for something else first, then after graduating that go to SEAL training) – but the training of a Navy SEAL takes at least a year and a half from boot camp until the time he is ready to go to a SEAL Team.

In this case, I would side with your son – it’s a “wanna be”.

News article from a couple years ago:

November 19, 2013 at 3:46 am
(87) Vicki says:

Ok, thanks for the confirmation. His story of his “involvement” in Vietnam was just like a movie script. I’d known him for many years and his military service was never mentioned until one day he wanted my boy to take his toys away. Next thing I know we’re hearing “Well, there’s a reason I don’t want to see soldiers spread around the house…etc etc” and so the story began. Taken up the Mekong River, dropped off, unable to be extracted, spending the night tied up a tree with the VC just over the hillside…having to kill many….etc. My boy has Aspergers and military weapons are his forte! He knows every last one, who made it, when it was in service, where, you name it, he knows it. So when he questioned this man about his weapon I could tell there was a problem. He just had a look on his face that said “liar” When the laser sight was discussed he later told me no way did he have one at that time in that place…..Just one more query if I may? I once briefly saw his discharge papers….he talked about this code on his paperwork. Apparently his was the same code as George Bush junior has…. Some coded explanation about his discharge. I’d really like to know what it was and why he was only in the navy for 3 months…. His story about being discharged goes like this…”when we finally got back they called me in for a de-brief and I ended up breaking teeth on my commanding officer….” He never has explained how he got out of his tree and home to the US anyway and there was no talk of discipline either, just a discharge…. didn’t sound right to me from the start. I’d just like to know as much of the truth as possible. One day I will confront him but I want all the facts before I do. Thanks for your help in clearing this up for me. :)

November 19, 2013 at 11:51 am
(88) Exidor says:

Please pardon my amusement at the story. Frankly, I would expect a court martial and brig time if he’d “broke the teeth” of any officer, let alone his commanding officer.

I haven’t seen a copy of Mr. Bush’s final discharge papers [but much of what is available from the USA Today website - http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/2004-02-14-bush-docs.htm, but I sincerely doubt they'd share the same discharge code.

And I think [while admitting I'm no expert on the matter] that the military was still trying to develop a satisfactory night vision goggle at the time, laser sights (for small arms) being a bit further in the future.

I’m going to be polite – based solely on what you’ve presented, I’m satisfied he was no SEAL.

If you want to further pursue the matter, you might contact those that make it their business to expose fraudulent SEALS – for example, the POW Network.Org is noted to work as hard to expose fraudulent claims of being a SEAL as they do to help real veterans.

November 20, 2013 at 11:16 pm
(89) Vicki says:

Thanks, I figured as much but I’m no military person so wasn’t completely sure. I also would have expected some serious discipline after such an event, not a simple discharge right away. I never did get to actually read his record….he applied for it, it arrived, I had it waved under my nose briefly and then he later said his “discharge code” was weird…then said “its the same as George Bush juniors”… I can’t confirm that as he lies and I didn’t see it myself. I’ve told you all he has told me and you have confirmed my suspicions. I’d pursue it further but he does no harm except to himself with his story. I didn’t understand why anyone would lie about something that. My son told me its because he’d like to be a warrior but he’s really just a nerd :) One day I will let him know I know its a lie. Maybe on his deathbed ….I’m just happy to have my thoughts confirmed. At least the story amused you :)

December 6, 2013 at 9:47 pm
(90) mat conkright says:

ok, my brother completed boot camp but was seriously injured in a car accident. He never checked into his reserve unit or what ever he was supposed to do. He has never gotten any help by the VA as far as I know. Now he is claiming to be getting help to buy a home. If he can get help to buy a home wouldn’t he get other help too. He claims to be a veteran but I question that. Thought boot didn’t count as active service. can you clarify please?

December 15, 2013 at 3:06 am
(91) scott says:

your brother isnt techincally a veteran but if the his car accident happened while he was on orders of any sorts that would all be taken care of by the military. reading this forum has me really disgusted i spent 6 years in the army national guard and was in iraq. on july 7th 2011 spc. beyers and spc newby were killed they served with honor and answered with pride the call they received to do there job so next time somebody thinks they are a veteran because they washed out of boot camp or never even sworn in because they where rejected at the draft office think again you are not veterans and i think almost everybody here can agree that to call yourself a veteran you should at the very least have completed all your training and either completed your contract of got some other reason for an honorable or medical discharge and if you went awol your no better then the other wimps that washed out of boot camp

March 29, 2014 at 12:55 pm
(92) Jenn says:

A Veteran is someone who served in a war and/or served at least twenty years of their life. It’s not someone who served stateside for three years before getting out.

March 31, 2014 at 9:40 pm
(93) Wacy Wac says:

I served in the WACS from 62~65, stateside only. Back then MOS’s were very limited as well as where we could be stationed. We were told our job would be to take over the jobs the guys had if they had to leave for the war. My husband also served in the medical field as did I. All we would like is a Veterans’ ID card, we do not want medical or any other benefits. We applied and we were both told we had to many assets to be veterans. Hello, we can’t get a VA card because we worked hard to get ahead, with what our pay was in the 60′s from the army, we sure didn’t leave with a bank account!!!! I have been told that we are Vietnam era veterans!

April 2, 2014 at 7:15 pm
(94) Dorothy says:

I was in the A. R. 1974-1976. I had to get out on a hardship. I’m a vet or not.

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