Are You a Veteran If You Didn’t Go to War

When it comes to getting disability benefits from the VA, it’s essential to understand your veteran status. What exactly makes someone a veteran? Is it a term strictly reserved for those who fought in combat, or does it extend to all who have worn the uniform to support their country?


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This article will talk about what it takes to get the status of a veteran. Let’s get started

Defining a Veteran

According to Title 38 of the U.S. Code, the legal definition of a veteran is defined as “a person who served in the active military, naval, air, or space service, and who was discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable.”

Let’s dissect the definition–

The Honorable Discharge

“Under condition other than dishonorable” – this phrase is mentioned to define veterans, and it signifies the importance of an honorable discharge.

An honorable discharge serves as a badge of honor, symbolizing a service member’s commitment, adherence and dedication to military standards. A veteran getting an honorable discharge means they have fulfilled their duties with integrity and distinction.

Factors Considered by the VA

However, a veteran’s honorable discharge status is not determined by honorable discharge alone. The VA takes a holistic approach when evaluating someone’s eligibility to receive disability compensation. Some of the critical factors, in this case, include –

  • Length of Service: For those who served before September 8, 1980, there is no minimum service length required to be considered a veteran for receiving VA benefits. However, for those who served after that date, a minimum of 24 months of active duty service period is required to be eligible. However, if a service member becomes disabled due to their military service, there is no minimum length requirement for VA benefits.
  • Character of Service: For most cases, you will need to have an honorable or general discharge for being a veteran under the eyes of the VA. On the other hand, discharges other than honorable, bad conduct, or dishonorable discharge may disqualify service members from the veteran status. 
  • Circumstances of Discharge: The events around a service member’s discharge can also play a role. The VA considers the specific reasons for the release.

Role of Disability in Veteran Status

Many times, disabilities can be a pivotal factor in determining whether or not someone is a veteran. Even if someone does not complete their military service as expected, they can still be a veteran due to health complications that may arise. 

Even if you faced injuries during your training, the VA will consider you as a veteran when providing disability benefits for the condition or injury.


As someone who has served their country, you have the right to receive proper benefits. In case you are struggling to get them from the VA, experts at VA Disability Coach can help you with your disability claim.