Can Select Reserve and National Guard Get VA Benefits?
Affairs (VA) benefits is “veteran status,” which is established by active military service and a discharge or release from active service under conditions other than dishonorable. Reservists, who have served on active duty, establish veteran status and may therefore be eligible for VA benefits, depending on the length of active military service and the character of discharge or release. In addition, reservists who are never called to active duty may qualify for some VA benefits. However, National Guard members can establish eligibility for VA benefits only if the President activated them for federal duty.
The primary factor in determining basic eligibility for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits is “veteran status,” which is established by active military service and a discharge or release from active service under conditions other than dishonorable. Reservists, who have served on active duty, establish veteran status and may therefore be eligible for VA benefits, depending on the length of active military service and the character of discharge or release. In addition, reservists who are never called to active duty may qualify for some VA benefits. However, National Guard members can establish eligibility for VA benefits only if the President activated them for federal duty.
Once eligibility is established, injured or ill veterans can apply for disability benefits. Compensation is a benefit VA pays monthly for disabilities incurred or aggravated during active duty and active duty for training, and for heart attack or stroke incurred during inactive duty for training. Such disabilities are considered “service-connected.” Additional benefits for the member and his/her dependents or survivors may apply.
Pension, on the other hand, is an income-based benefit paid to veterans with honorable war-time service who have been injured or become ill after service, who are permanently and totally disabled, or are 65 or older.
Reservists and National Guard members activated for federal duty can
qualify for a number of VA healthcare services including:
-Pharmacy and prosthetic services
-Community-based residential care
-Sexual trauma counseling
-Specialized healthcare for female veterans
-Health and rehabilitation programs for homeless veterans
-Alcohol and drug dependency treatment
-Medical evaluation for military service exposure, including Gulf War, Agent Orange, Ionizing Radiation, and certain other environmental hazards
Veterans with nonservice-connected illness/injuries post deployment may be charged a co-pay at VA for treatment of these conditions (e.g., colds, flu, auto accident, etc.).
In January 2008, Congress increased Combat Veteran benefits by extending the period of enhanced healthcare enrollment eligibility from two to five years post discharge for veterans who served in the theater of operations during a period of war after the Persian Gulf War or in combat against a hostile force during a period of hostilities after November 11, 1998.
In addition, Combat Veterans discharged from active duty before January 28, 2003, who had not enrolled in VA’s healthcare system were provided an enhanced enrollment window through January 27, 2011. This enhanced enrollment provides cost-free hospital care, medical services, and nursing-home care for any illness determined to be possibly related to their combat service.
Service-disabled veterans may qualify for rehabilitation and employment assistance including job search, vocational evaluation, career exploration, vocational training, education, and rehabilitation services. If they are enrolled in an education or training program, VA will pay tuition, fees, books, tools, and other program expenses as well as provide a monthly living allowance.
VA guarantees loans to purchase a home, manufactured home, or certain types of condominiums or to build, repair, and improve homes. This benefit may also be used to refinance an existing home loan. Certain disabled veterans can receive grants to have their home specially adapted to their needs. Native Americans living on Trust Land may qualify for a direct home loan.
Basic eligibility requirements for Select Reserve or National Guard are based on reserve service, and the individual must have completed six years (honorable). If he/she was discharged due to service-connected disability, the required time could be less. When based on current active-duty time, eligibility begins after 181 days (or 90 days during the Gulf War) unless discharged or separated from a previous qualifying period of active-duty service.
Select Reserve and National Guard members may be entitled to up to 36 months of educational benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve (Chapter 1606). To qualify, the participant must have a six-year obligation to serve in the Select Reserve or National Guard (officers must agree to serve six years in addition to the original obligation), have completed initial active duty for training, meet the requirements to receive a high-school diploma or equivalency certificate before applying for benefits, and remain in good standing while serving in a Selected Reserve or National Guard unit.
Benefit entitlement ends ten years from the date of eligibility for the program, or on the date of separation from service. Members whose eligibility began on or after October 1, 1992, have 14 years. If activated under title 10, the eligibility period is extended by the time on active duty plus four months. A separate extension applies for each activation. An extension is not available if activated under U.S.C. Title 32.
Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, National Guard and Reservists will continue to receive a percentage of the active-duty GI Bill based on the length of their active-duty service. However, this new benefit will allow reservists to accumulate active-duty service from multiple tours (more service = higher benefits).
National Guard and Reserve personnel are eligible to receive Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI), Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI), and Family Group Life Insurance (FGLI). They may also be eligible for Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance (S-DVI) or the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection Program (TSGLI) if called to active duty, are injured, and have a service-connected disability.
Burial benefits for veterans may include a grave site in any of the 120 national cemeteries with available space, opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, a government headstone or marker, a grave liner for casketed remains, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate at no cost to the family.
If you have any questions concerning these or any benefits administered by VA, contact your local PVA Service Office.
Contact: PVA Veterans Benefits Department, 800-424-8200.
Can Select Reserve and National Guard Get VA Benefits?
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