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Ask June: How to Find Out If You Qualify as a Veteran

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Q: As a former member of the Army National Guard, I served five years and received a general discharge under honorable conditions. I competed all over the country on our unit's rifle team winning many awards, and I enrolled in college for two years and received the G.I. Bill. I never was called up to active duty or war, but I completed basic training and A.I.T. I also did monthly drills plus each summer we drilled for a two week summer camp. My question is what requirements have to be met to be called a Veteran. Am I a Veteran or not? Or could you tell me how I can find out.

--Shawn, Nampa, Idaho

A: First off, thank you for your service. And, by the way, I am a former competitive pistol shooter. That was sure fun! Using the dictionary as our guide, as a former member of the armed forces, you are clearly a veteran.

So now with that cleared up, I thought it might be useful to mention a few veteran benefits for which you may or may not be qualified. For example, a quick visit to the Department of Veterans Affairs' website would indicate that you would not be eligible for burial in a VA National Cemetery. You may or may not be eligible for a VA Home Loan. The loan program requires six years of Selected Reserves or National Guard service or 90 days or more (depending on when you served) of active duty. On the other hand, your education benefits are an example of a veteran's benefit for which you are eligible. Regardless of what benefits you do or do not qualify for, you are a veteran!

June Lantz Walbert is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER practitioner with USAA Financial Planning Services. She is also a lieu­tenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve with 20 years of service. Walbert's basic branch is Air Defense Artillery. She writes a weekly advice column, "Ask June" on Follow June @AskJune_usaa.

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. owns the certification marks CFP and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER in the United States, which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements.  

Views and opinions expressed by members are for informational purposes only and should not be deemed as an endorsement by USAA.

The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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