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Eligibility for most VA benefits is predicated on discharge from active military service, excluding dishonorable discharge conditions. Male and female veterans with similar service backgrounds are entitled to identical VA benefits. Typically, active service means a history of full-time service in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard; or service as a commissioned officer of the Public Health Service, the Environmental Services Administration, or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Completion of six years or more of honorable service in the Selected Reserves entitles the individual to home-loan benefits for which she/he might not otherwise be eligible. In addition, Reserve personnel are given the opportunity to receive educational benefits. Service in 28 organizations during special periods, including World Wars I and II, has been certified as active military service by the Department of Defense. Members of these groups may be eligible for VA benefits if Defense certifies their service and issues a discharge that does not include dishonorable conditions. Honorable and general discharges qualify a veteran for most VA benefits. Dishonorable and bad-conduct discharges issued by general court-martial disqualify the person from accessing VA benefits. Parolees and veterans in prison may be eligible for certain VA benefits. The specific benefits available can be clarified by VA regional offices.

For submitting VA applications, please consult the Electronic Department of Veterans Affairs.


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