Introduction and Acronyms

Veterans of the United States armed forces may be eligible for a broad range of programs and services provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). These benefits are legislated in Title 38 of the United States Code. This booklet contains a summary of these benefits effective Jan. 1, 2011. For additional information, visit the VA Web page at

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General Eligibility

Eligibility for most VA benefits is based upon discharge from active military service under other than dishonorable conditions. Active service means full-time service, other than active duty for training, as a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, or as a commissioned officer of the Public Health Service, Environmental Science Services Administration, or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or its predecessor, the Coast and Geodetic Survey. Generally, men and women veterans with similar service may be entitled to the same VA benefits.

Dishonorable and bad conduct discharges issued by general courts-martial may bar VA benefits. Veterans in prison and parolees must contact a VA regional office to determine eligibility. VA benefits will not be provided to any veteran or dependent wanted for an outstanding felony warrant.

Certain VA Benefits Require Wartime Service

Certain VA benefits require service during wartime. Under the law, VA recognizes these war periods:

Mexican Border Period: May 9, 1916, through April 5, 1917, for veterans who served in Mexico, on its borders or in adjacent waters

World War I: April 6, 1917, through Nov. 11, 1918; for veterans who served in Russia, April 6, 1917, through April 1, 1920; extended through July 1, 1921, for veterans who had at least one day of service between April 6, 1917, and Nov. 11, 1918

World War II: Dec. 7, 1941, through Dec. 31, 1946

Korean War: June 27, 1950, through Jan. 31, 1955

Vietnam War: Aug. 5, 1964 (Feb. 28, 1961, for veterans who served “in country” before Aug. 5, 1964), through May 7, 1975

Gulf War: Aug. 2, 1990, through a date to be set by law or Presidential Proclamation. Important Documents Needed to Expedite

VA Benefits Delivery

In order to expedite benefits delivery, veterans seeking a VA benefit for the first time must submit a copy of their service discharge form (DD-214, DD-215, or for World War II veterans, a WD form), which documents service dates and type of discharge, or give their full name, military service number, and branch and dates of service.

The veteran’s service discharge form should be kept in a safe location accessible to the veteran and next of kin or designated representative.

The following documents will be needed for claims processing related to a veteran’s death:

  1. Veteran’s marriage certificate for claims of a surviving spouse or children
  2. Veteran’s death certificate if the veteran did not die in a VA health care facility
  3. Children’s birth certificates or adoption papers to determine children’s benefits
  4. Veteran’s birth certificate to determine parents’ benefits



ALS – Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
CHAMPVA – Civilian Health and Medical Program of VA
CLC – Community Living Center
C&P – Compensation and Pension
COE – Certificate of Eligibility
CRDP – Concurrent Retirement and Disability Payments
CRSC – Combat-Related Special Compensation
CWT – Compensated Work Therapy
CZTE – Combat Zone Tax Exclusion
DIC – Dependency and Indemnity Compensation
DoD — Department of Defense
FHA – Federal Housing Administration
FSGLI – Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance
HUD – Department of Housing and Urban Development
IRR – Individual Ready Reserve
MGIB – Montgomery GI Bill
MIA – Missing in Action
NPRC – National Personnel Records Center
NSLI – National Service Life Insurance
OEF – Operation Enduring Freedom
OIF – Operation Iraqi Freedom
OPM – Office of Personnel Management
POW — Prisoner of War
PTSD – Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
SAH – Specially Adapted Housing
SBA – Small Business Administration
SSI – Supplemental Security Income
S-DVI – Service-Disabled Veterans’ Insurance
SGLI – Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance
SSB – Special Separation Benefits
TAP – Transition Assistance Program
TSGLI – Traumatic Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance
USCIS – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
USDA – U.S. Department of Agriculture
VA – Department of Veterans Affairs
VEAP – Veterans Educational Assistance Program
VEOA – Veterans’ Employment Opportunities Act
VGLI – Veterans’ Group Life Insurance
VHA – Veterans Health Administration
VMET – Verification of Military Experience and Training
VMLI – Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance
VR&E – Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment
VSI – Voluntary Separation Incentive
WAAC – Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps
WASPs – Women Air Force Service Pilots