VETERANS' CORNER: Reservists eligible for VA benefits
EDITOR’S NOTE: Veterans’ Corner, a column to inform armed-forces veterans about services and benefits available to them, appears the first Sunday of each month.
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.
Claim 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.
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 five years post-discharge.
Veterans with combat service after Nov. 11, 1998, who were discharged from active duty before Jan. 28, 2003, are eligible.
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 and make a new enrollment decision.
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.
Someone 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 of 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 complains in U.S. District Court. For information, visit www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra/main.htm.
This information is from the U. S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs Federal Benefits for Veterans, 2012 edition.