Veterans Agent

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Who qualifies as a US military veteran?

Over the years I’ve heard many opinions of what people think a US military veteran is. I will explain from a veterans’ service’s officer perspective.

Under US federal law, a veteran is any person who served honorably on active duty in the armed forces of the United States. Discharges marked “general and under honorable conditions” also qualify. Other qualifying events are any person who served in the active military, naval or air service of the United States and was discharged from the service due to a service-connected disability or filed a claim and was service-connected for a disability sustained while in the service.

For example, a person could go into the service and injure themselves while in basic training and receive a service-connected disability rating from the VA. They would be considered a veteran no matter how long they served.

Certain veterans of the Philippine Commonwealth Army identified as scouts who served between Dec. 7, 1941, and Jan. 1, 1947, are considered veterans of the United States.

Members of the National Guard and Reserves may be considered veterans if they were deployed under Title 10 (Federal Orders) and complete that deployment and are issued a DD-214 (discharge) under honorable conditions. People who just serve in the National Guard and Reserve without a federal deployment are not eligible for veterans benefits, unless they were injured during their basic or advanced training or while on weekend drill or the two-week summer training. They must have reported the injury, filed a claim with the VA, and been rated as disabled for that injury.

Other types of people considered veteran are those who served as a commissioned officer of the Public Health Service, the Environmental Science Services Administration or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or its predecessor the Coast and Geodetic Survey. These individuals would have a document similar to a DD-214 as proof of this service.

Eligibility for veteran’s benefits also depends on the character of the discharge. There is honorable, general under honorable conditions, other than honorable, bad conduct and dishonorable. Normally only honorable and general under honorable conditions will qualify the veteran for benefits.

Officers cannot receive a dishonorable discharge. If they are demoted in rank at a court-martial, they are given an officer’s discharge that is equal to a dishonorable discharge. There is also an entry-level separation given usually within the first 180 days for medical or other reasons. Most times the person is not considered a veteran.

Veterans should never take it for granted that their discharge if not honorable would preclude them from benefits from the VA. The wise thing to do is to apply for them unless the character is bad conduct or dishonorable.

There is also a process to apply to have the discharge upgraded. This process should take place within three years of discharge, and the veteran should have a rationale for claiming that the discharge should have been honorable. The services have in the past rated people with personality disorders that were found later to be post-traumatic stress disorder. This usually occurred after the service member returned from a combat tour and had trouble dealing with the authority back in the home unit. Service members who have had this experience should contact our office and let our VSO look into the matter.

Veterans Crisis Line

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Veterans, Service members, and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, send a text message to 838255, or chat online to receive free, confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, even if they are not registered with VA or enrolled in VA health care. The responders at the Veterans Crisis Line are specially trained and experienced in helping Veterans of all ages and circumstances — from those coping with mental health issues that were never addressed to recent Veterans dealing with relationships or the transition back to civilian life.

Veterans Crisis Line
Veterans Bricks: 4x8
Veterans Bricks: 8x8
Additional Resources is an easy to use online resource created by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that strives to serve the nearly half-million Veterans living in Massachusetts, and their Families, as a bridge to the many benefits that they have earned in defense of our nation. By combining state and federal benefits, as well as non-profit resources into one tailored online search, Veterans and their Families now have access to one stop shopping for all of their needs. Access to financial, education, and housing benefits that once took hours to research, resulting in dozens of phone calls, meetings, and frustration, are now just one click away on

This is a link to help those who may have for example had a Traumatic Brain Injury, have Lou Gehrigs Disease, or any other illness that affects the brain and causes some form of dementia. For further information or clarification, contact the Veterans Office or go directly to the web site:

State Benefits

Chapter 115 Veterans Benefits: Provides veteran in need of financial assistance with food, housing, clothing, employment, and medical and burial assistance.

Bonuses: Currently, the Persion Gulf War Bonus is available to certain disabled veterans or their survivors.

Property Tax: There are a number of exemptions available to certain disabled veterans or their survivors.

Sales & Excise Tax: Certain disabled veterans are eligible for a motor vehicle sales and excise tax exemptions. Contact the Department of revenue.

Massachusetts Veterans’ Cemeteries: There are two State cemeteries (Agawam & Winchendon) that are available to inter the commonwealth’s deceased veterans, spouses, and dependents.

VA National Cemetery: Massachusetts National Cemetery is located at Bourne on Cape Cod.

Annuity: There is a $2000.00 annuity available for 100% service connected disabled veterans, parents of a son or daughter and to a spouse whose husband or wife died as a result of injury sustained or disease contracted during active service in time of war, insurrection or combat

Employment: Veterans are given preference for employment on the eligibility list for civil service positions.

Woman Veterans: Department of Veterans services has a Woman’s Veterans Network Program whose mission is to provide these woman with information on benefits, expand awareness of the needs of woman veterans, and to identify available health and human resources to meet those needs, and to advocate on behalf of woman veterans.

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