A veteran is any service member who completed his or her military service with an honorable or general discharge. This includes those who served during both peacetime and war with 180 days of active-duty service. It also includes members of the Reserves and the National Guard called up to active duty by the federal government, i.e., serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Establishing veteran status enables a person to access all benefits and services earned while serving the United States.
Establishing Veteran Status
Locate all your military paperwork. If you still have your paperwork and discharge papers (DD-214), it is easy to claim your veteran status.
Research your military service. If you cannot find your paperwork, write down all the details you can remember of your service—branch, squadron, commander, duty stations and so on. Veterans discharged after 1992 are already in the Veterans Affairs database. However, prior to 1992, veterans were not in the system unless they contacted the VA for services and benefits.
Go to the nearest Veterans Services Office. By federal mandate, every county in the United States has a VSO. The office staff assists veterans in establishing their veteran status, signing up for VA services and explaining all the various aspects of veterans' benefits. The VSO is usually under the county listings in the phone book.