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How long do you have to be in the military to qualify as a veteran?

Planning to be in the military before college, wanna know if I will qualify to be a veteran if I served for 4 years.

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James’s Answer

Honorary Discharged at four years you'll be a veteran . It can also apply to those with less then four years that are Honorary with medical or some cases of hardship as well. I would recommend serving as long as possible, should be a good career choice, do plenty of research before commiting.
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Sikawayi’s Answer

Hello Marco, great question I don't usually answer to many military questions, but I can honestly say I'm overly qualified for this one. First of all, yes you will be considered a veteran with and honorable discharge and four years' service or a honorable discharge and medical related discharge. Since your motive for going into the military is to help pay for your education you should know most colleges use your military as credits for school. Best of luck
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David’s Answer

My son-in-law was a Marine Corps mobile air traffic controller...for 8 years. He received an honorable discharge and went on about his life. Then later he realized he could have spent 2 more years (total of 10 full years) in the military to qualify for certain benefits he cannot get having only served 8 years, so he has limited veterans benefits.

Do your homework carefully to learn what the rules are these days. Ask the recruiters, look online, and such.

Good luck!
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Kenneth’s Answer

When you go to MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station) you will work with your chosen branch (Army, Airforce, Navy, etc) to create a contract. Upon completion of that contract, usually 4 years, and receiving an honorable discharge you will be considered a veteran. There are other ways to be considered in less time, but that requires special circumstances such as a medical discharge.
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Joseph’s Answer

This is a great question, Marco! If you serve if the Active Duty military for 4 years - you should qualify as long as you are not dishonorably dishcarged.

As others have answered, Veteran status can be complicated. I would suggest you look for specifically what benefit you need (i.e. education benefit, health benefit, etc) and then look at the requirements for that benefit.
Each one can have a few caveats like serving in a certain campaign.

I hope this can help!

Joseph recommends the following next steps:

Find a specific benefit
Research the requirements
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Scott’s Answer

Im going to give you a very broad explanation here, simplified so as to avoid going down other rabbit holes.

To qualify for the **most benefits**, you'd generally need to serve 3 years.

A military contract is generally for 8 years. Those 8 years are usually broken down into 'active' and inactive years. The vast majority of people serve 3-4 years 'active' and the remaining obligation in the 'ready reserves' (meaning you aren't really in the military anymore but can be called back again in the event of a national emergency. This does not happen very often)

After serving your 3 years, you get your discharge papers (DD214) and are now considered a 'veteran'.

Please bear in mind that there are several other technical definitions (glossary non prior service vet- generally someone who didnt make it thru initial training but MAY qualify for limited benefits) and combat vets (a combat deployment entitles service members to more benefits)

Source: I was an Army recruiter for a few years during my 20 year career. Please reach out to me if you have any questions!
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Jerry’s Answer

4 years with honorable service or medically discharge of some sort to be classified as a veteran.
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Dawn’s Answer

Hi Marco - Honorary Discharged at four years or sooner with medical or some hardship cases as well. Best of luck to you and please ask additional questions as you have them. I am a military Veteran and my daughter is in JROTC now in High School.
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Kim’s Answer

Welcome to the world of regulations and laws! Please see this link. Bottom line, there are different definitions of Veteran, depending on who you ask. When I worked at the state workforce office, anyone with ONE DAY of service was treated as a Vet. There are different benefits available to Veterans, such as home loans and base privileges. Do your homework carefully. And, thank you for wanting to serve!

https://www.va.gov/OSDBU/docs/Determining-Veteran-Status.pdf
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Scott’s Answer

Sounds like you have had plenty of great responses so far and I apologize for the late one! Just wanted to clarify some things:

‘Veteran’ is a term used very loosely by military members. Typically you will be considered a veteran after the completion of your enlistment contract WITH an honorable discharge. Now, if you want specific benefits and such there are different requirements you’ll need to meet on top of being a veteran. If you ever have any questions or run into issues you can always visit your local VA or nearest recruiting station!
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James’s Answer

Technically if you serve at all, you are a veteran. Keep in mind that for jobs and benefits, a lot will require certain discharges. Other than honorable, dishonorable, and bad conduct discharges are typically restricting.
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Sabrina’s Answer

Great question; I have been serving Active duty in the Marine Corps for over four years. As long as you serve and get out honorably, you can proudly call yourself a United States Military Veteran. Please consider the benefits of doing four years as opposed to 20 or even 30 years.

I strictly joined the military because I shied away from going to college; it is because of the military that inspired me to get my education for FREE while earning additional money through FASFA (Student Financial Aid) to help you further your education. In just two years, I made my associate's degree, and I am now working on my bachelor's; please take in the many benefits of becoming a United States Military Veteran! You begin earning college credits the moment you hit the yellow footprints.
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