Frequently Asked Questions

Who qualifies as a veteran

  • Who qualifies as a veteran

    Who qualifies as a veteran

    Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations defines a veteran as “a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.”

  • Active Duty

    Active Duty

    All active duty service members are issued a DD Form 214 when they separate from active duty.   If you did not receive a DD Form 214 when you left the service, you should contact your last unit if you separated recently.  You can also contact your branch of service admin headquarters.

  • Reserve/National Guard

    Reserve/National Guard

    Former or current members of the National Guard or Reserves are not considered to be veterans unless they had prior or subsequent service with an active component of the Armed Forces (activated to federal service).   Since the DD Form 214 is issued to those leaving the active military as well as to members of the National Guard and Reserves completing their initial active duty for training, possession of this document does not necessarily mean the Service Member is a veteran.


    Service Members who serve in the National Guard and Reserve without a federal deployment are usually not eligible for veterans benefits, unless they were injured during their basic or advanced training or while on weekend drill or two-week training. They must have reported the injury, filed a claim with the VA, and been rated as disabled for that injury. 


    * Guard and Reserve members who complete their term of service, without ever being activated to federal service, are issued a DD Form 256 (Honorable Discharge Certificate), DD Form 257 (General Discharge Certificate)  or a NGB form 22 (Report of Separation and Record of Service) upon completion of their term.

  • Other


    Other types of people considered veteran are those who served as a commissioned officer of the Public Health Service, the Environmental Science Services Administration or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or its predecessor the Coast and Geodetic Survey. These individuals would have a document similar to a DD-214 as proof of this service.

CalGuard Support

  • CalGuard

    What is the process for requesting support from CalGuard?

    All local requests for state assistance are routed through individual County Offices of Emergency Services to California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES). Upon approval and activation/mobilization by the Governor, the Cal Guard only acts when officially tasked by the CalOES.

COVID 19 Resources

  • VA and SSI Recipeints

    Is COVID-19 related financial assistance available to VA and SSI recipients?

    If you receive VA disability or pension benefits, you’ll automatically receive a $1,200 stimulus check from the IRS, even if you don’t file tax returns. You don’t need to do anything to receive your check.

    VA, SSI recipients with eligible children need to act by May 5, 2020 to quickly add money to their automatic Economic Impact Payment. If you have eligible dependents and did not file 2018 or 2019 tax returns, you must act by May 5, 2020 to receive the full amount of your Economic Impact Payment quickly.

    Additional VA debt & copay financial relief options are available at:


  • VA Resources

    What resources are available for those who depend on Veterans Affairs for counseling and other services that have been affected

    The VA’s Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) announced on March 31, 2020 they would be using virtual means, such as VA Video Connect, to help make veterans’ benefits and services more accessible. This move comes after the VA closed 56 regional offices to the public due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

    The VA will now provide assistance with the following services and benefits virtually or through telephone:

    • Uninterrupted GI Bill payments so students can continue to receive their benefits unaffected by any change from in-person to online learning
    • Supporting students for educational counseling through online and telephone services
    • Connecting veterans to vocational rehabilitation and employment services through teleconferencing; providing case management and general counseling virtually through VA Video Connect
    • Informal conference hearings by telephone or video conferencing when needed
    • Collecting information to process fiduciary claims by telephone
    • Collecting information remotely via phone or teleconference when possible, to process grant requests for special adaptive housing
    • Conducting examinations for disability benefits using tele-compensation and pension or “tele-C&P” exams. If an in-person examination is required, veterans will be notified for scheduling.

    The VA announced on March 30, 2020 they have deployed their first Mobile Vet Center units. The Mobile Vet Center units were developed to “expand direct counseling, outreach, and care coordination to veterans in communities affected during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Along with providing counseling and mental health services, the Mobile Vet Center units can also refer active duty service members, veterans, and their families to VA care or other care facilities in the community. Mobile Vet Center units were sent to San Francisco and Los Angeles.

    The Department of Veterans Affairs has developed a website to answer frequently asked questions and address veterans’ needs during this emergency. For more information, please visit

  • GI Benefits

    How will COVID-19 effect student veterans who depend on GI benefits, who are shifting to online learning (an option not covered

    US Senate bill S. 3503, signed into law on March 21, 2020, authorizes the Department of Veterans Affairs to continue to provide educational assistance through December 21, 2020, for programs of education that have been converted to distance learning due to an emergency or health-related situation, including COVID-19. Such assistance includes monthly housing stipends or subsistence allowances.

    On April 1, 2020, the House of Representatives unanimously passed H.R. 6322 (also referred to as the “Student Veteran Coronavirus Response Act of 2020”), legislation to further protect GI Bill benefits for veterans in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The bill’s provisions include extending GI Bill benefits for student veterans by the length of time their school is closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. It would also ensure that work-study students are paid during school closures. The measure awaits action by the U.S. Senate.

    On April 28, 2020, H.R. 6322 was signed into law protecting GI Bill benefits amid the coronavirus outbreak. Under the latest measure, students using GI Bill programs can continue to receive payments for work study programs through the remainder of the semester, even if students cannot reach their place of employment.

    H.R. 6322 will also ensure that, in light of the current emergency, students’ GI Bill housing payments will continue even if colleges fully close down. Veterans could see any of this semester’s lost entitlements restored if their institution closes down or if they are forced to withdraw from school for coronavirus-related issues.

Types of Discharge

  • Honorable Discharge

    Honorable Discharge

    If a military service member received a good or excellent rating for their service time, by exceeding standards for performance and personal conduct, they will be discharged from the military honorably. An honorable military discharge is a form of administrative discharge.

  • General Discharge

    General Discharge

    A General military discharge is a form of administrative discharge. If a service member’s performance is satisfactory but the individual failed to meet all expectations of conduct for military members, the discharge is considered a General Discharge, Under Honorable Conditions.  To receive a General Discharge from the military there has to be some form of nonjudicial punishment to correct unacceptable military behavior or failure to meet military standards. The discharging officer must give the reason for the discharge in writing, and the military member must sign paperwork stating they understand the reason for their discharge. Veterans may not be eligible for certain veterans benefits under a General Discharge, including the GI Bill.

  • Other Than Honorable Conditions Discharge

    Other Than Honorable Conditions Discharge

    The most severe type of military administrative discharge is the Other Than Honorable Conditions.  Some examples of actions that could lead to an Other Than Honorable Discharge include security violations,  use of violence, conviction by a civilian court with a sentence including prison time, or being found guilty of adultery in a divorce hearing (this list is not a definitive list; these are only examples).  In most cases, veterans who receive an Other Than Honorable Discharge cannot re-enlist in the Armed Forces or reserves, except under very rare circumstances.  Veteran’s benefits are not usually available to those discharged through this type of discharge.

  • Bad Conduct Discharge (BCD)

    Bad Conduct Discharge (BCD)

    The Bad Conduct Discharge is only passed on to enlisted military members and is given by a court-martial due to punishment for bad conduct.  A Bad Conduct discharge is often preceded by time in military prison.  Virtually all veteran’s benefits are forfeited if discharged due to Bad Conduct.

  • Dishonorable Discharge

    Dishonorable Discharge

    If the military considers a service members actions to be reprehensible, the general court-martial can determine a dishonorable discharge is in order.  Murder and sexual assault are examples of situations which would result in a dishonorable discharge.  If someone is dishonorably discharged from the military they are not allowed to own firearms according to US federal law. Military members who receive a Dishonorable Discharge forfeit all military and veterans benefits and may have a difficult time finding work in the civilian sector.

  • Officer Discharge

    Officer Discharge

    Commissioned officers cannot receive bad conduct discharges or a dishonorable discharge, nor can they be reduced in rank by a court-martial. If an officer is discharged by a general court-martial, they receive a Dismissal notice which is the same as a dishonorable discharge.

  • Entry Level Separation (ELS)

    Entry Level Separation (ELS)

    If an individual leaves the military before completing at least 180 days of service, they receive an entry level separation status.  This type of military discharge can happen for a variety of reasons (medical, administrative, etc.) and is neither good nor bad, though in many cases, service of less than 180 may prevent some people from being classified as a veteran for state and federal military benefits.

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