Who Is A Veteran?
Basically, a veteran is an individual who’s served on active duty. But not everyone who was in active military work qualifies for veteran status.
There have been cases of people trying to pose as active duty members or veterans since achieving veteran status comes with a multitude of benefits and support. Thus, it’s essential, especially for for business owners and healthcare providers, to be vigilant and ensure a person is telling the truth.
So, how do service members count as veterans? Read on to learn ways to verify someone’s veteran status.
What is a veteran?
According to the United States Department of Veteran Affairs, a veteran is a person who served in the active military, naval or air service. This person was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.
Furthermore, a Reservist or a member of the National Guard called to Federal active duty or disabled from a disease or injury incurred aggravated in the line of duty or during training status also qualifies as a veteran.
A person who has been on active duty can mean several things. This person must have experience in full-time duty in the Armed Forces, other than active duty for training. This individual might also be on full-time duty as a commissioned officer of the Regular or Reserve Corps of the Public Health Service on or after July 29, 1945, or before that date, under the circumstances affording entitlement to ‘full military benefits’ at any time.
Someone who served full-time duty as a commissioned officer of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or its predecessor organization, the Coast and Geodetic Survey, on or after July 29, 1945, or before that while on transfer to one of the Armed Forces, or while, in time of war or national emergency declared by the President, assigned to duty on a project for one of the Armed Forces in an area determined by the Secretary of Defense to be of immediate hazard, or in the Philippine islands on December 7, 1941, and continuously in such after that or at any time.
A person may also qualify as a veteran if they have served as a cadet at the United States Military, Air Force, or Coast Guard Academy or as a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy. A person from the Armed Forces is someone who’s served in the United States Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard, including the reserve components.
Technically, service can be for any length of time, but it must be for more than training. The Department of Defense stipulates that a person applying for veteran status must have been discharged or released from the military other than a dishonorable status.
Military Service Criteria
What does it mean to count as a veteran who can enjoy VA benefits? For a person to be recognized as a World War II veteran or veteran in general, that individual must meet specific criteria. Achieving Veteran status has many perks, which is why people who have served in the military aspire to reach this status.
When Veteran Affairs (VA) evaluates a person’s status or qualifications as a veteran, the organization examines their service record for determination purposes. In general, the VA considers several factors, including the following:
- The length of active service
- Time period when that service was rendered
- Type of character of service
- The circumstances and type of discharge
Active duty service
Moreover, that individual must have ‘active military, naval or air service’ to be considered a veteran for most government purposes. What does ‘active service’ mean, anyway? Multiple forms of active service qualify a person to be recognized as a veteran. These include the following:
- Full-time duty in the Armed Forces
- Full-time duty as a commissioned officer of the Regular or Reserve Corps of the Public Health Service
- Full-time duty as a commissioned officer of the Environmental Science Services Administration, Coast and Geodetic Survey, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- Service as a cadet in the Military, Coast Guard, or Air Force Academy, or a midshipman at the Naval Academy
- Enlisted service members who are assigned to the Air Force, Military, or Naval Academy without a release from Active duty
- Travel to or from duty or service.
- The time required to travel directly home after the date of discharge or release from active duty
- Title 32 Full-time National Guard duty: order for the full-time performance of operational activities
By definition, a person qualifies for veteran status if they received orders given by a Governor, with the approval of the President or Secretary of Defense. This also includes active duty for training (ADT) and inactive duty training (IDT), where an individual is disabled or dies from an injury or disease while in the line of duty. According to the US government, one of the following medical conditions must be developed or aggravated to qualify:
- cardiac arrest
- cerebrovascular accident or
- acute myocardial infarction
In addition, service members may qualify for this status if they are victims of sexual assault.
Reserve or National Guard service
Many people wonder if people who have served in Army Reserves are considered veterans or if reservists are considered veterans. First of all, it must be clarified that the objective of the Reserves is to deliver supplementary support to active duty forces when obligated. All of the different branches of military service have a reserve corps under the patronage of the Department of Defense.
Although it doesn’t necessarily count as active duty time for most veterans’ benefits, when a person joins the Reserve members, that individual attend basic training and military job school full time. After that individual completes basic training and military job school, those considered Reserves are given the freedom to resume their civilian life. This is except for the training called inactive duty training (IDT), which usually takes place one weekend every month.
However, reservists do get to complete 14 full days of full-time training once a year. This training is recognized as active duty for training (ADT). It should be noted that neither IDT nor ADT makes people eligible for VA benefits.
How about National Guard members? Currently, members of the National Guard are considered veterans if they served at least 20 years, even if they haven’t gotten deployed. Before 2016, a person who worked in the National Guard was only considered a veteran if they had served at least 180 days in a federal status.
Meanwhile, people are recognized as Combat Veterans if they are Veterans, including activated Reservists and members of the National Guard, in a theater of combat operations after November 11, 1998, and have been discharged other than dishonorable means.
Minimum length of service
When determining who is a veteran, that individual must wonder how long a person should have been on active duty or active military to be recognized as a veteran. Technically, if that person was on active duty before September 8, 1980, no minimum length of service is required to be considered a veteran and qualify for veteran benefits.
However, if that individual enlisted after September 8, 1980, that person must have served for at least 24 months of active duty to be considered a veteran. If that individual becomes disabled because of their time in service, there is no minimum length of service to qualify for VA benefits.
Benefits for Armed Forces Veterans
Being in active military service is an honor, and that’s why war veterans and disabled veterans are given attractive benefits. During or after active duty service, qualified individuals can take advantage of VA benefits.
Healthcare is one of the most important factors why people enlist for active military service. Service members must check their healthcare options after separation or retirement. Combat veterans must take advantage of this benefit immediately to take advantage of 10 years of enhanced eligibility.
There is also life insurance for the service member and family members. There are various coverage options available, which can be of excellent service to a war veteran or families intending to lead a dignified living.
SGLI coverage can be converted to a Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) or commercial policy. Service members must take action within 120 days of separation.
If the veteran has an injury or illness caused or made worse by their service, they may qualify for this particular claim. This claim must be filed 180 to 90 days before separation.
Education and training
Here are some of the educational benefits veterans are entitled to:
- GI Bill and other educational benefits. VA education benefits can be used to help pay for school or training. Unused benefits can be transferred to a service member’s spouse or dependent children.
- Education and career counseling. Service members can get support transitioning to a civilian career with free educational and career counseling. This benefit can be benefitted if that person if leaving active military service soon.
- Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E). If that service member has a disability that limits their ability to work or prevents them from working, they should apply for this service. They can apply up to 12 years after they receive their notice of separation or their first VA disability rating.
Veterans can also get a certificate of Eligibility for a VA-backed home loan. This certificate helps veterans to buy, build, improve, or refinance a home.
After Active Duty Life
Serving in the armed forces is an honor and sacrifice. Because of their service, they are entitled to many benefits that people fully take advantage of. Hence, it is important for businesses and healthcare organizations to understand who is a veteran. At the same time, veterans should be aware of the perks granted by Veteran Affairs so they can lead fulfilling lives after their time of duty has passed.