Veterans Affairs: "Gray Area Retirees" - Issues and Related Legislation
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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The United States Department of Veterans Affairs VA provides a broad range of benefits and services to American veterans and to certain members of their families. In addition, the Department of Defense DOD offers a variety of benefits to veterans who are also military retirees. When members of the National Guard or the Reserve who have not yet reached age 60 retire usually after at least 20 years of service, however, they are not entitled to certain federal benefits, including health care. These military retirees are commonly known as Gray Area Retirees GARs. These persons may not necessarily meet the relevant statutory definition of veterans for VA benefit purposes, nor are they eligible for DOD health benefits until they are eligible for military retired pay at age 60. In order to be eligible for most VA benefits, the claimant must be a veteran, or in some cases, the survivor or dependent of a veteran. However, not every person who has served in the military is considered to be a veteran for the purposes of VA benefits. The concept of veteran is defined by federal statute and includes various criteria, such as discharge status, active service, time of service, and length of duty. Based upon their military service and the eligibility criteria, it may be difficult for members of the National Guard and members of the various Reserve Components to qualify as veterans for purposes of VA benefits. Therefore, not every member of the Guard or the Reserve will be considered a veteran for the purposes of VA benefits.
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