Who is a Veteran?

“A person who has been in the armed forces and who has fought in a war.”

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs defines a veteran as any person who served active duty, even only one day, within the territorial limits of the USA or who served on board a ship that is an American vessel.  While serving in the military, they are afforded certain privileges when returning home to their respective states.  These include license plates for automobiles identifying them as veterans, priority when receiving medical services at hospitals, eligibility for federal jobs, special consideration during layoffs when obtaining employment in another agency or company that cannot be offered to nonveterans due to security reasons between agencies or companies, and certain allowances for those living on base.  There are also various discounts given to veterans at their respective places of employment as well as some hotels and travel services.

“No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid r comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any state shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.”

This clearly states that if one is actively serving in the armed forces his/her citizenship is not voided until they either take oath to support U.S. Constitution and engage in insurrection or rebellion, commit treason.

A veteran is defined as someone who served fully and completely at any point in time during a war or conflict with another country; however, this does not include those who were drafted into service nor those who were discharged before finishing their tour of duty.

Types of veterans

There are three types of veteran designations.  The first is the most common with no variances and it’s reserved for those who served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Somalia, Lebanon, Iraq (Global War on Terrorism), Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom), and other conflicts or military operations that required them to receive an Honorable Discharge.  This designation also includes anyone awarded the Medal of Honor.

The second type has two categories which are Honorable Discharge/Bad Conduct Discharge or Dishonorable Discharges.  If one was discharged due to reasons of conduct not connected with military service or any other offense which shows them as morally unqualified as a soldier they would be classified with a Bad Conduct Discharge or Dishonorable Discharge.  Those with either of the latter two designations do not receive most VA benefits and are not afforded all privileges that veterans receive.  They may be eligible to receive disability payments from DOD if their service was determined by the Secretary of Defense to be in direct line of duty, but this can only occur within 24 months following discharge from military service.

The third type is reserved for anyone who served in the reserve branch (Army, Navy, Air Force) and has been called to active duty but were never deployed or did not complete their tour of duty.  This person holds no distinction when compared to other veterans unless they had at least 180 days of federal volunteer service and received a “certificate of honorable service” issued by the U.S. Government, then they are granted veteran status .

This is not an inclusive list as there are other types of veterans, but it offers you an idea on how to obtain your veteran designation.

You can obtain this information by visiting your local VA office or calling 1-800-827-1000, where someone will be able to assist you with determining what type of designation best suits you. Afterward, record this information in your journal because it could make the difference when applying for benefits at a later date.  For example, if you were discharged under less than honorable conditions you may be disqualified from receiving certain benefits or discounts that otherwise would have been available to you.

How to become a veteran

To become a veteran it is necessary to be discharged or separated from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable.  Follow this link to apply for your DD-214 http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/get-service-records.html  You will need to complete the form, print it out and deliver it in person or by fax to 800-261-2802.

Remember you must provide all pertinent information as accurately as possible including rank, place of entry into service, place which you served, etc., so gather as much information as possible before submitting application for your certificate.

Once your application has been submitted wait 5 days and call 1 800 827 – 1000 to check on your application.  Once approved you will be mailed your DD – 214 certificate.

The following are some of the benefits veterans receive for serving their country:  educational, home loan grants, disability compensation, etc., but these benefits DO NOT go automatically to all veterans.  It is vital that you keep track of the date and time you applied for your benefit or certification so if there are any questions or discrepancies later on they can be resolved immediately.

If any errors are found in active duty records which were made while still in service it may have no effect on their retired pay, however it could result in changes being made to benefits received from other agencies such as educational assistance, disability compensation (Department of Veterans Affairs), and housing loans (Department of Housing and Urban Development).

It is very important to keep track of your military records because they can help you obtain more than one benefit and it could be the deciding factor when determining qualification for certain benefits.  For example, if you choose to apply for a VA loan using your veteran status then you must present evidence that you served in an area of combat such as a DD-214 Certificate and service recorded within 9 years from the date of application.   If  you fail to provide this documentation then your status as a veteran will not be considered valid and the lender cannot require the reduction in interest rate available only to veterans who served during wartime.

Failure to keep copies of military discharge records may result in you not receiving any benefits for which you are qualified.  The following link will help keep track of all your military records http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/about-service-records.html

Once you receive your DD-214 Certificate take it to the Department of Veteran Affairs, banks, etc., and ask them to verify whether or not it’s validity is still intact.

This has been helpful information about how to become a veteran and obtain a DD – 214 Certificate so contact us if you have any questions regarding your eligibility status.

…So what is this “DD” Document? The DD Form 214 (also referred to as the Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty) is a document issued to members of the United States Armed Forces upon their separation from active duty military service. The form is also one of the documents accepted to prove veteran status by the Department of Veterans Affairs for benefits purposes.

The following are some examples of when you might need to go back and gather copies of your records: apply for college, apply for disability compensation or pension VBA Form 21 – Application for Survivors Benefits.  Citizenship or immigration status can also be affected if you claim veteran status in order to obtain certain licensure, employment, etc., so it’s important to always keep track of all paperwork associated with your military service. –Please note that this information has been compiled from various sources online at http://www.usvetsinc.org/, http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/about-service-records.html, and https://www.todaysmilitary.com…

We can print and mail your official DD Form 214 certificates right to your door!

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