VA Definition of “Veteran”

Service Connection Key Takeaways

The VA marketing department makes it sound like applying for VA benefits is super easy. But if you’re a veteran suspecting or already having a service-related disability, you’ll soon find out that the VA process can be more like walking in mud.

Summary of Key Takeaways

      1. Evidence is KING: Strong, evidence-backed applications significantly increase success rates. 
      2. Your Role and the VA’s: The VA does offer assistance, but often, it’s the veterans who have to lead the charge for their rights.
      3. Priority #1: Collect and secure solid evidence for your claim. Only then, consider wider outreach or more aggressive advocacy.
      4. We’re Your VA Insider Resource: CaseSix and this guide is here to break down and simplify the VA claims process, ensuring you have the information you need.
      5. Staying in the Loop: VA regulations, including 38 CFR and M-21, change over time. We keep up with these changes to stay in the know.

Pro Tips

      1. Combine both lay and medical evidence for a robust case.
      2. File an Intent to File (VA Form 21-0966) to reserve the effective date and use the 12 months to gather evidence.
      3. Secure medical evidence for your present disability and share your history with your doctor. If possible, request a written opinion linking your disability to its service-related cause

Got Questions?

Contact us. We can offer a free review and consultation. 

The VA’s Definition of a “Veteran”

To get VA disability benefits you need to be a “veteran”. Let’s simplify what that means.

    1. Who is a Veteran?

Simply put, a veteran is someone who was active in the military, navy, or air force and left with a good record.

Let’s break that down – Military, Naval, or Air Service:

    • – This covers the US military branches: Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Space Force, Coast Guard, and Army National Guard and Air National Guard under State authority.
    • – Reserve members of these branches count.
    • – Students at military academies and some officers in certain government roles are also included.
    1. What is “Active Service?”

    • – Being on “Active Duty” means you served full-time or were on Orders.
    • – Active Guard Reserve Benefits: Title 10 & Title 32
      • National Guard and Reserve members with active service may qualify for a variety of VA benefits. Active service includes:
        • – Active duty (Title 10) – full-time duty, such as, but not limited to, a unit deployment during war, including travel to and from such duty, OR
        • – Full-time National Guard duty (Title 32) – full-time duty, such as responding to a national emergency or duties as an Active Guard Reserve, where you receive pay from the Federal government.
    1. Types of Discharge

Not all types of discharge from the military are the same.

Key Points to Remember:

    • – A bad discharge (called “dishonorable”) means no VA benefits.
    • – Some discharges seem confusing but might still get you VA benefits.
    • – The VA and military have different rules for discharges, so don’t just rely on your military record.

Some reasons that can block VA benefits include:

    • – Not wanting to wear the uniform or follow orders.
    • – Leaving the military for bad reasons.
    • – Running away from your duties.
    • – Leaving for a very long time without permission.
    1. Last Thoughts

    • – If the VA indicates you’re not considered a veteran because of your discharge type, you can challenge it.
    • – It’s possible to have mixed records – some good, some bad. For benefits, you need to show your injury came from a good period of service.

Need Help?

If the VA has denied your benefits and you believe you deserve them, reach out! We’re here to help make sure the VA’s decision is right. Call us at (410) 803-5049 or use our contact form and we’ll call you back.

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Whether you believe you have a claim; are certain about it, perhaps you’re considering applying for a rate increase or worse yet – you’re currently fighting the VA, we can provide you with a free assessment of your situation and provide you options!

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