Tuesday, April 15, 2014   

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is considered a veteran?

The basic definition of a veteran is anyone who served in the active military, naval, or air service, and who was discharged or released there from under conditions other than dishonorable.

For Reservists and National Guard, you must have been called to active duty other than for training. The exception to this rule is for any period of active duty for training during which the individual concerned was disabled or died from a disease or injury incurred or aggravated in line of duty; and any period of inactive duty training during which the individual concerned was disabled or died from an injury incurred or aggravated in line of duty or from an acute myocardial infarction, a cardiac arrest, or a cerebrovascular accident which occurred during such training.

The full definition of who is considered a veteran is found in Title 38 of the United States Code Service for Federal Regulations and Veterans Benefits, and it is as follows:

  1. The term “veteran” means a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service, and who was discharged or released there from under conditions other than dishonorable. (38 USCS § 101 (2))
  2. The term “veteran of any war” means any veteran who served in the active military, naval, or air service during a period of war. (38 USCS § 101 (12))
  3. The term “active duty” means – (38 USCS § 101 (21))
    1. full-time duty in the Armed Forces, other than active duty for training.
    2. full-time duty (other than for training purposes) as a commissioned officer of the Regular or Reserve Corps of the Public Health Service (i) on or after July 29, 1945, or (ii) before that date under circumstances affording entitlement to “full military benefits” or (iii) at any time, for the purposes of chapter 13 of this title [38 USCS §§ 1301 et seq.];
    3. full-time duty as a commissioned officer of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or its predecessor organization the Coast and Geodetic Survey (i) on or after July 29, 1945, or (ii) before that date (I) while on transfer to one of the Armed Forces, or (II) 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 military hazard, or (III) in the Philippine Islands on December 7, 1941, and continuously in such islands thereafter, or (iii) at any time, for the purposes of chapter 13 of this title [38 USCS §§ 1301 et seq.];
    4. service as a cadet at the United States Military, Air Force, or Coast Guard Academy, or as a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy; and
    5. authorized travel to or from such duty or service.
  4. The term “active duty for training” means – (38 USCS § 101 (22)
    1. full-time duty in the Armed Forces performed by Reserves for training purposes;
    2. full-time duty for training purposes performed as a commissioned officer of the Reserve Corps of the Public Health Service (i) on or after July 29, 1945, or (ii) before that date under circumstances affording entitlement to “full military benefits”, or (iii) at any time, for the purposes of chapter 13 of this title [38 USCS §§ 1301 et seq.].
    3. in the case of members of the National Guard or Air National Guard of any State, full-time duty under section 316, 502, 503, 504, or 505 of title 32 [32 USCS § 316, 502, 503, 504, or 505], or the prior corresponding provisions of law; and
    4. duty performed by a member of a Senior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program when ordered to such duty for the purposes of training or a practice cruise under chapter 103 of title 10 [10 USCS §§ 2101 et seq.] for a period of not less than four weeks and which must be completed by the member before the member is commissioned; and
    5. authorized travel to or from such duty.
      The term does not include duty performed as a temporary member of the Coast Guard Reserve.
  5. The term “inactive duty for training” means – (38 USCS § 101 (23))
    1. duty (other than full-time duty) prescribed for Reserves (including commissioned officer of the Reserve Corps of the Public Health Service) by the Secretary concerned under section 206 of title 37 [37 USCS § 206] or any other provision of law;
    2. special additional duties authorized for Reserves (including commissioned officers of the Reserve Corps of the Public Health Service) by an authority designated by the Secretary concerned and performed by them on a voluntary basis in connection with the prescribed training or maintenance activities of the units to which they are assigned; and
    3. training (other than active duty for training) by a member of, or applicant for membership (as defined in section 8140(g) of title 5 [5 USCS § 8140(g)]) in, the Senior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps prescribed under chapter 103 of title 10 [10 USCS §§ 2101 et seq.].
      In case of a member of the National Guard or Air National Guard of any State, such term means duty (other than full-time duty) under sections 316, 502, 503, 504, or 505 of title 32 [32 USCS §§ 316, 502, 503, 504, or 505], or the prior corresponding provisions of law. Such term does not include (i) work or study performed in connection with correspondence courses, (ii) attendance at an educational institution in an inactive status, or (iii) duty performed as a temporary member of the Coast Guard Reserve.
  6. The term “active military, naval, or air service” includes – (38 USCS § 101 (24))
    1. active duty;
    2. any period of active duty for training during which the individual concerned was disabled or died from a disease or injury incurred or aggravated in line of duty; and
    3. any period of inactive duty training during which the individual concerned was disabled or died –
      1. from an injury incurred or aggravated in line of duty; or
      2. from an acute myocardial infarction, a cardiac arrest, or a cerebrovascular accident occurring during such training.

How do I obtain a copy of my DD-214, discharge, separation documents?

You can obtain a free, certified copy of your DD-214 by completing SF 180, Request Pertaining to Military Records and mailing your request to:

The National Personnel Records Center
9700 Page Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri 63132


Once The National Personnel Records Center receives the written request, they try to have the request processed and out in the mail to you within 2 to 6 weeks.

How do I apply for VA medical benefits?

Complete a 10-10 EZ form, Application for Health Benefits, and submit it to the nearest VA Medical Center. (See our section on "Medical Benefits" for mailing addresses.)

I've been told that my military medical records were destroyed in the fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, MO in 1973. What can I do? (I need this information to substantiate my VA claim).

  • Write back to The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) and request a copy of your personnel file, TDY orders, or any unit records that may be available for your period of service.
  • Search the Internet for possible websites for the unit you served with; go to Google or Yahoo and type in your unit. (Some units have great information out there, others have nothing.) Military.com also has some great resources.
  • Try to contact someone that you served with…they can write a "lay statement" on your behalf. A "lay statement" is a letter stating what a person has first hand knowledge of; what they've seen and/or what you've told them. They will need to state who they are, how they know you, give their service number or social security number, and the unit they were assigned to in service. Then they will need to state what injury or event occurred to you in service that they are aware of and any events following that pertain to your situation. They need to give a statement at the end of the letter stating, "I herby certify that the information I have given is true to the best of my knowledge and belief."
  • Try to obtain copies of any private physician or hospital medical records where you would have been seen or treated, for the condition you are trying to service connect, especially within one year of your date of discharge from the military.
  • Family members and friends may also write "lay statements" in regards to your conditions. They too need to state who they are and how they know you. They can discuss how you were prior to service and then the changes they saw in you after service. If they received a phone call or letter from you while you were in service and told them about the injury or event that occurred they may also state that in their letter. They should also discuss the conditions and problems they see you having now. They also need to give the statement at the end of their letter, "I hereby certify that the information I have given is true to the best of my knowledge and belief."
  • Check with family and friends that you may have written home to in service. Perhaps they still have your service letters tucked away in the attic and in one of those letters you talked about your injury or an event that occurred that would have had something to do with the condition you are filing service connection for.
  • Send copies of any pictures of yourself in service where you were either bandaged up or showing your location.