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:

  • 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))
  • 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))
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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