What is the definition of a veteran?

by Alan
(Lake Worth, FL)

Many of us served in the National Guard or Reserves. Are we considered veterans in this case, authorizing us to salute the flag along with other veterans?


Most of us do not get veterans benefits, even if we served 20 years.

To us, however, we honorably served our country and should be considered veterans.




Alan, that's an excellent question, and one that comes up in many contexts.

Our personal opinion is that if you have served in the United States Armed Forces (including the Guard and Reserve), and you were discharged under honorable conditions, or you retired from military service, you have earned the right to pay your respects to the flag you served by rendering a military salute, if you so choose.

But that's just our opinion. There are lots of laws on the subject of veterans, and the definitions may be different, depending on the purpose of the law.

Federal law (United States Code, Title 38, Part 1, Section 101) says:

"For the purposes of this title—
. . .

(2) The term "veteran" means a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service, and who was discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable.
. . ."

It later says:

(24) The term "active military, naval, or air service" includes—
(A) active duty;
(B) 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
(C) any period of inactive duty training during which the individual concerned was disabled or died—
(i) from an injury incurred or aggravated in line of duty; or
(ii) from an acute myocardial infarction, a cardiac arrest, or a cerebrovascular accident occurring during such training."

It defines "active duty" as:

"(A) full-time duty in the Armed Forces, other than active duty for training;
. . .

(D) 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 . . . ."

As you can see, federal law makes a distinction between active duty, and active duty for training, which describes the service of many National Guard and Reserve members. Obviously, that distinction would not apply to those members of the Guard and Reserve who've served on extended active duty during the War on Terror.

But those regulations, as you mention, are for the purpose of determining eligibility for federal veterans benefits.

Various states have their own definitions of "veterans," which generally determine entitlement to state veterans benefits. Some say "honorably discharged or released," some say "discharged or released under other than dishonorable conditions," or "released from service by other than dishonorable discharge."

Again, those statutes are for the purpose of determining eligibility for government benefits.

Whether you're a veteran entitled to salute the flag, our view is that if you have honorably served, you have earned the right to salute the flag you served under.

Readers, do any of you have other opinions about this topic? If so, click below to post your comments.

Also see What is a Veteran?

And of course, there's this popular definition of a veteran:

"A Veteran is someone who, at one point in his/her life wrote a blank check made payable to 'The United States of America' for an amount up to and including 'my life'."




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Blank Check
by: Laurence Butterfield

Put the Blank Check to song. Hope you enjoy and share with others.




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We, All who served under the flag SALUTE
by: Anonymous

As a veteran of the Army, the Army Reserve, and the National Guard, I see no difference in my service than any soldier I served with in any of these.

We all were willing to give part of our life in service to our fellow man and our Country or State.

We all swore to defend our Country and /or State with our life if need be.

If we were willing to serve under the flag, we all should render the same salute we rendered while in uniform. The only difference between then and now is we are all older and can no longer render the service we once did.

We, as veterans, no matter of branch, would to this day defend our flag, our families, our home and our Country.

So brothers and sisters, any time you have an occasion to do so, use the same salute you used while serving.

Pay respect to our flag, our National Anthem, and to Taps at all military funerals you attend.


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Army Reserve
by: Anonymous

As an honorably discharged Army Reservist, 6 years in military uniform, ready and able to risk my life in Viet Nam at a moment's notice, I would like to be considered a veteran.




Thank you for your service.

We understand and appreciate your sentiment, and believe that most veterans would consider you in their number, whether or not you meet the definition of a veteran prescribed by Congress for eligibility for Veterans Administration services.

Title 38, U.S. Code, Section 101, paragraph (2) defines a veteran this way:

"The term 'veteran' means a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service, and who was discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable."

For further clarification of what is meant by "active service," read the text of the relevant U.S. Code sections.

It requires service on active duty, and specifically excludes active duty for training, which I believe is how most reserve duty is classified.


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What is a Veteran?
by: Don USAF Veteran

What is a Veteran?

A "Veteran" Whether Active duty,
Discharged, Retired or Reserve -
Is someone who, At one
Point in His or Her life,
Wrote a blank Check
made payable to
"The United States of America"
For an Amount of Up To,
And Including His or Her Life.

This Is Honor,
And there are way too many People
in this Country Today,
Who no Longer Understand That Fact.


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Right to Salute
by: Joe

Just one old Jarhead's opinion, but if you served this country, honorably, than you have earned the right to salute our flag.

Doesn't matter to me whether you were in harm's way or not, reserve or not. Once you put on the uniform you made the decision that you would defend her.

The fact that fate didn't put you in a position to experience combat isn't important. Like I said in a previous post, I fought for her, I'll salute her.

Semper Fi,
Joe

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