For the purposes of VA health benefits and services, a person who served in the active military service and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable is a veteran.
If you served in the active military service and were separated under any condition other than dishonorable, you may qualify for VA health care benefits. Current and former members of the Reserves or National Guard who were called to active duty by a federal order and completed the full period for which they were called or ordered to active duty may be eligible for VA health benefits as well.
Reserves or National Guard members with active duty for training purposes only do not meet the basic eligibility requirement.
Minimum Duty Requirements
Most Veterans who enlisted after September 7, 1980, or entered active duty after October 16, 1981, must have served 24 continuous months or the full period for which they were called to active duty in order to be eligible. This minimum duty requirement may not apply to Veterans who were discharged for a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty, for a hardship or “early out,” or those who served prior to September 7, 1980. Since there are a number of other exceptions to the minimum duty requirements, VA encourages all Veterans to apply so that we may determine their enrollment eligibility.
Certain Veterans may be afforded enhanced eligibility status when applying and enrolling in the VA health care system. Veterans who:
- Are a Former Prisoner of War (POW)
- In receipt of the Purple Heart Medal.
- In receipt of the Medal of Honor.
- Have a compensable VA awarded service-connected disability of 10% or more.
- In receipt of a VA Pension.
- Were discharged from the military because of a disability (not preexisting), early out, or hardship.
- Served in a Theater of Operations for 5 years post discharge.
- Served in the Republic of Vietnam from January 9, 1962 to May 7, 1975.
U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships associated with military service in Vietnam
- Served in the Persian Gulf from August 2, 1990 to November 11, 1998.
- Were stationed or resided at Camp Lejeune for 30 days or more between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987.
- Are found by VA to be Catastrophically Disabled.
- Previous years' household income is below VA's National Income or Geographical-Adjusted Thresholds.
For more information about health care benefits eligibility, visit: www.va.gov/HEALTHBENEFITS/apply/veterans.asp