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Eligibility for VA Benefits
Reservists who serve on active duty establish Veteran status and may be eligible for the full-range of VA benefits, depending on the length of active military service and a discharge or release from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable. In addition, reservists not activated may qualify for some VA benefits.
National Guard members can establish eligibility for VA benefits if activated for federal service during a period of war or domestic emergency. Activation for other than federal service does not qualify guard members for all VA benefits. Claims for VA benefits based on federal service filed by members of the National Guard should include a copy of the military orders, presidential proclamation or executive order that clearly demonstrates the federal nature of the service.
Qualifying for VA Health Care
Effective Jan. 28, 2008, Veterans discharged from active duty on or after Jan. 28, 2003, are eligible for enhanced enrollment placement into Priority Group 6 (unless eligible for higher Priority Group placement) for 5 years post discharge. Veterans with combat service after Nov. 11, 1998, who were discharged from active duty before Jan. 28, 2003, and who apply for enrollment on or after Jan. 28, 2008, are eligible for this enhanced enrollment benefit through Jan. 27, 2011.
Activated reservists and members of the National Guard are eligible if they served on active duty in a theater of combat operations after Nov. 11, 1998, and, have been discharged under other than dishonorable conditions.
Veterans who enroll with VA under this “Combat Veteran” authority will retain enrollment eligibility even after their five-year post discharge period ends. At the end of their post discharge period, VA will reassess the Veteran’s information (including all applicable eligibility factors) and make a new enrollment decision. For additional information, call 1-877-222-VETS (8387).
VA pays monthly compensation benefits for disabilities incurred or aggravated during active duty and active duty for training as a result of injury or disease, and for disabilities due to injury, heart attack, or stroke that occurred during inactive duty training.
Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve
Members of reserve elements of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, and members of the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard, may be entitled to up to 36 months of educational benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) – Selected Reserve. To be eligible, the participant must:
• Have a six-year obligation in the Selected Reserve or National Guard signed after June 30, 1985, or, if an officer, agree to serve six years in addition to the original obligation.
• Complete initial active duty for training.
• Have a high school diploma or equivalency certificate before applying for benefits.
• Remain in good standing in a Selected Reserve or National Guard unit.
Reserve components determine eligibility for benefits. VA does not make decisions about eligibility and cannot make payments until the reserve component has determined eligibility and notified VA.
Period of Eligibility: Benefits generally end the day a reservist or National Guard member separates from the military. Additionally, if in the Selected Reserve and called to active duty, VA can generally extend the eligibility period by the length of time on active duty plus four months for each period of active duty. Once this extension is granted, it will not be taken away if you leave the Selected Reserve.
Eligible members separated because of unit deactivation, a disability that was not caused by misconduct, or otherwise involuntarily separated during Oct. 1, 1991, through Dec. 31, 2001, have 14 years after their eligibility date to use benefits. Similarly, members involuntarily separated from the Selected Reserve due to a deactivation of their unit between Oct. 1, 2007, and Sept. 30, 2014, may receive a 14-year period of eligibility. Payments: The rate for full-time training effective Oct. 1, 2010, is $337 a month for 36 months. Part-time benefits are reduced proportionately. For complete current rates, visit GI Bill. DOD may make additional contributions.
Training: Participants may pursue training at a college or university, or take technical training at any approved facility. Training includes undergraduate, graduate, or post-graduate courses; State licensure and certification; courses for a certificate or diploma from business, technical or vocational schools; cooperative training; apprenticeship or on-the-job training; correspondence courses; independent study programs; flight training; entrepreneurship training; remedial, deficiency or refresher courses needed to complete a program of study; or preparatory courses for tests required or used for admission to an institution of higher learning or graduate school. Accelerated payments for certain high-cost programs are authorized effective Jan. 28, 2008.
Work-Study: Participants who train at the three-quarter or full-time rate may be eligible for a work-study program in which they work for VA and receive hourly wages. Students under the work-study program must be supervised by a VA employee and all duties performed must relate to VA. The types of work allowed include:
• VA paperwork processing at schools or other training facilities.
• Assistance with patient care at VA hospitals or domiciliary care facilities.
• Work at national or state veterans’ cemeteries.
• Various jobs within any VA regional office.
• Other VA-approved activities.
*MGIB – Selected Reserve work-study students may also assist with an activity relating to the administration of this education benefit at DOD, Coast Guard, or National Guard facilities.
Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP)
This program provides educational assistance to members of National Guard and reserve components – Selected Reserve and Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) – who are called or ordered to active duty service in response to a war or national emergency was declared by the President or Congress. Visit GI Bill for more information.
Eligibility: Eligibility is determined by DOD or the Department of Homeland Security. Generally, a service member who serves on active duty on or after Sept.11, 2001, for at least 90 consecutive days or accumulates a total of three or more of years of service is eligible.
Payments: Reserve or National Guard members whose eligibility is based upon continuous service receive a payment rate based upon their number of continuous days on active duty. Members who qualify after the accumulation of three or more years aggregate active duty service receive the full payment allowable.
Active Duty, Reserves And National Guard Members
|Monthly Payment Rate For Full-Time Students|
90 days but less than one year
One year but less than two years
Two or more continuous years
*Effective October 1, 2010
Training: Participants may pursue training at a college or university, or take technical training at any approved facility. Training includes undergraduate, graduate, or post-graduate courses; state licensure and certification courses; courses for a certificate or diploma from business, technical or vocational schools; cooperative training; apprenticeship or on-the-job training; correspondence courses; independent study programs; flight training; entrepreneurship training; remedial, deficiency, or refresher courses needed to complete a program of study; or preparatory courses for tests required or used for admission to an institution of higher learning or graduate school. Accelerated payments for certain high-cost programs are authorized.
Period of Eligibility: Prior to Jan. 28, 2008, members of the Selected Reserve called to active duty were eligible as long as they continued to serve in the Selected Reserve. They lost eligibility if they went into the Inactive Ready Reserve (IRR). Members of the IRR called to active duty were eligible as long as they stayed in the IRR or Selected Reserve.
Effective Jan. 28, 2008, members who are called up from the Selected Reserve, complete their REAP-qualifying period of active duty service, and then return to the Selected Reserve for the remainder of their service contract, have 10 years to use their benefits after separation.
In addition, members who are called up from the IRR or Inactive National Guard (ING), complete their REAP-qualifying period of active duty service, and then enter the Selected Reserve to complete their service contract, have 10 years to use their benefits after separation.
Work-Study Program: Reserve Education Assistance Program students in the work-study program may also assist with an activity relating to the administration of this education benefit at DOD, Coast Guard, or National Guard facilities.
Home Loan Guaranty
National Guard members and reservists are eligible for a VA home loan if they have completed at least six years of honorable service, are mobilized for active duty service for a period of at least 90 days, or are discharged because of a service-connected disability.
Reservists who do not qualify for VA housing loan benefits may be eligible for loans on favorable terms insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), part of HUD.
National Guard members and reservists are eligible to receive Service members’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI), Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI), and Family Service members’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI). They may also be eligible for SGLI Traumatic Injury Protection if severely injured and suffering a qualifying loss, Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance if they receive a service-connected disability rating from VA, and Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance if approved for a Specially Adapted Housing Grant.
Burial and Memorial Benefits
VA provides a burial flag to memorialize members or former members of the Selected Reserve who served their initial obligation, or were discharged for a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty, or died while a member of the Selected Reserve.
A person who left a civilian job to enter active duty in the armed forces is entitled to return to the job after discharge or release from active duty if they:
• Gave advance notice of military service to the employer.
• Did not exceed five years cumulative absence from the civilian job (with some exceptions).
• Submitted a timely application for re-employment.
• Did not receive a dishonorable or other punitive discharge.
The law calls for a returning Veteran to be placed in the job as if he/she had never left, including benefits based on seniority such as pensions, pay increases and promotions. The law also prohibits discrimination in hiring, promotion or other advantages of employment on the basis of military service. Veterans seeking re-employment should apply, verbally or in writing, to the company’s hiring official and keep a record of their application. If problems arise, contact the Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) in the state of the employer.
Federal employees not properly re-employed may appeal directly to the Merit Systems Protection Board. Non-federal employees may file complaints in U.S. District Court. For information, visit DOL.
National Guard and VA Partnership to Assist Veterans
The Transition Assistance Advisor (TAA) program within the National Guard (NG) Office of Warrior Support places a NG/VA trained expert at the NG Headquarters in each of the 50 states and PR, GU, VI and District of Columbia, as an advocate for Guard members and their families as well as other geographically dispersed military members and families. In collaboration with state directors of Veterans Affairs and other state and local coalition partners, the Transition Assistance Advisor provides enrollment, referrals and facilitates access for Veterans through the overwhelming maze of programs, with the compassion of someone who knows what it’s like to transition from Guard to active duty and to civilian status.
Transition Assistance Advisors receive annual training by VA experts in VA health care and benefits to assist Guard members and their families’ to access to VA health care facilities and TRICARE facilities in their network. To find a local Transition Assistance Advisor call 1 877 577-6691 or go to TAA program
Outreach for OEF/OIF (New Dawn) Veterans
VA’s OEF/OIF New Dawn Outreach Teams focus on improving outreach to members of the National Guard and Reserve by engaging Guard members throughout the deployment cycle with targeted messages and face-to-face encounters with VA staff. These Teams are located at VA Medical Centers to help ease the transition from military to civilian life. Cost-free VA health care and medications may be provided for conditions potentially related to combat service, including full access to VA’s medical benefits package.