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Who Is a Veteran?

Definition of a Veteran

For the purposes of most VA health benefits and services, a veteran is anyone who served on active military duty and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable. Under certain circumstances, the dependents or survivors of a veteran may qualify for benefits as well.

In general, active military service means full-time service, other than active duty for training, as a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard, or as a commissioned officer of the Public Health Service, Environmental Science Services Administration or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Under the law, active duty does not normally include attendance at a school under military orders, or normal military training as a reserve officer or member of a reserve or National Guard unit. However, members of a reserve or National Guard unit that is called to active duty under presidential orders (also known as being “activated” or “federalized”) may be eligible for benefits.

Other Considerations

Additional circumstances of service, and whether they qualify as active military service, are laid out in the law, which can make it difficult to determine if you have met the active service requirement. You may also qualify for benefits such as disability compensation or veterans pension, but some of these have additional eligibility requirements, such as length or type of service, service-connected disability rating, age, income threshold, etc.

ODVA, as well as certified veteran service officers located throughout the state, can help you and your family navigate the complex landscape of veterans’ benefits and identify all the programs and services available to you.

For more information: Veteran Benefits and Programs


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Resource website that connects wounded warriors, service members, veterans, their families, and caregivers to programs and services that support them.

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One out of every 12 Oregonians is a veteran.
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