Definitions of Massachusetts Veterans

M.G.L. ch.4, s.7, clause 43 (Massachusetts General Law Chapter 4, Section 7, Clause 43)

To be a “veteran” under Massachusetts law a person is required to have either:

  • 180 days of active duty service and be discharged or released under honorable conditions - OR -
  • 90 days of active duty service, one day of which is during “wartime” per the chart which follows, and be discharged or released under honorable conditions, except for Vietnam I, which requires 180 days of active duty service (see chart below).

Guard Members

For Guard Members to qualify they must have either:

  • 180 days and have been activated under Title 10 of the U.S. Code and have been discharged or released under honorable conditions - OR -
  • Members who were activated under Title 10 or Title 32 of the U.S. Code or Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 33, sections 38, 40, and 41 must have served 90 days, at least one of which was during wartime, per the chart located on page 3. The members’ last discharge or release must be under honorable conditions.

Reservists

For Reservists to qualify, they must have been called to regular active duty, at which point their eligibility can be determined by the chart below..

Minimum service exception (for death or disability)

It is not necessary that an applicant have completed the minimum service for wartime or peacetime campaign if s/he served some time in the campaign and was awarded the Purple Heart, or suffered a service-connected disability per the discharge certificate, or died in the service under honorable conditions.

Training duty exception

Active service in the armed forces, as used in this clause, shall not include active duty for training in the Army or Air National Guard or active duty for training as a Reservist in the armed forces of the United States.

Merchant Marine

Any Merchant Marine who served for a period of 90 days in armed conflict between December 7, 1941 and December 31, 1946, and who received an honorable discharge from the Army, Navy, or Coast Guard of the United States.

Eligible dependents

The following categories of persons may qualify as dependents eligible to receive veterans’ benefits:

  • Spouse of the veteran;
  • Widow or widower of the veteran;
  • Dependent parent of the veteran;
  • Any person who acted as a parent to the veteran for five years immediately preceding the commencement of the veteran’s wartime service;
  • Child of the veteran until his or her 19th birthday;
  • Child of the veteran between 19 years and 24 years of age while the child is attending high school, an institution of higher learning or some other accredited educational institution;
  • Child of the veteran 19 years of age or older who is mentally or physically unable to support him/herself and was affected by the disability prior to his/her 18th birthday;
  • Legally adopted children of the veteran.

Who is not eligible?

None of the following shall be deemed to be a veteran:

  • Any person, who at the time of entering into the armed forces of the United States, had as his/her intention to become a subject or citizen of the United States and withdrew his/her intention under the provisions of the Act of Congress approved July 9, 1918;
  • Any person who was discharged from said armed forces on his/her own application or solicitation by reason of his/her being an enemy alien;
  • Any person who has been proven guilty of willful desertion;
  • Any person whose only service in the armed forces of the United States consists of his/her service as a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary or as a temporary member of the Coast Guard Reserve, or both;
  • Any person whose last discharge or release from the armed forces is dishonorable or other than honorable.

Chart of definitions

M.G.L. ch. 4, sec.7, cl. 43 as amended by the Acts of 2005, ch. 130

Era of Service

Dates

Requirement for Veteran Status

PEACETIME

12-Nov-1918
15-Sep-1940

180 days of regular active duty service and a last discharge or release under honorable conditions.

WWII
(Merchant Marine: 7-Dec-1941 through 31-Dec-1946)

16-Sep-1940
25-Jul-1947

90 days of active duty service, one (1) day during “wartime” and a last discharge or release under honorable conditions.

PEACETIME

26-Jul-1947
24-Jun-1950

180 days of regular active duty service and a last discharge or release under honorable conditions.

KOREA

25-Jun-1950
31-Jan-1955

90 days of active duty service, one (1) day during “wartime” and a last discharge or release under honorable conditions.

Korean Defense Service Medal

28-Jul-1954
(to be determined later)

90 days of active duty service, last discharge under honorable conditions and the Korean Defense Service Medal

VIETNAM I

1-Feb-1955
4-Aug-1964

180 days of regular active duty service and a last discharge or release under honorable conditions.

VIETNAM II

5-Aug-1964
7-May-1975

90 days of active duty service, one (1) day during “wartime” and a last discharge or release under honorable conditions.

PEACETIME

8-May-1975
1-Aug-1990

180 days of regular active duty service and a last discharge or release under honorable conditions.

Lebanon Campaign *

25-Aug-1982
(to be determined later)

90 days of active duty service, one (1) day during “wartime” and a last discharge or release under honorable conditions.

Grenada Campaign *

25-Oct-1983
15-Dec-1983

90 days of active duty service, one (1) day during “wartime” and a last discharge or release under honorable conditions.

Panama Campaign *

20-Dec-1989
31-Jan-1990

90 days of active duty service, one (1) day during “wartime” and a last discharge or release under honorable conditions.

PERSIAN GULF

2-Aug-1990
(to be determined later)

90 days of active duty service, one (1) day during “wartime” and a last discharge or release under honorable conditions.

* Naval and Marine DD214 must indicate Expeditionary Medal. All DD214’s must specify campaign: Lebanon, Granada, or Panama.

For GUARD MEMBERS to qualify they must have 180 days and have been activated under Title 10 of the U.S. Code -OR- Members who were activated under Title 10 or Title 32 of the U.S. Code or Massachusetts General Laws, chapter 33, sections 38, 40, and 41 must have 90 days, at least one of which was during wartime, per the above chart.

For RESERVISTS to qualify, they must have been called to regular active duty, at which point their eligibility can be determined by the above chart.

Minimum Service Exception (for Death or Disability): It is not necessary that an applicant have completed the minimum service for wartime or peacetime campaign if s/he served some time in the campaign and was awarded the Purple Heart, or suffered a service-connected disability per the Discharge Certificate, or died in the service under honorable conditions.

Training Duty Exception: Active duty service in the armed forces shall not include active duty for training in the Army or Air National Guard or active duty for training as a Reservist in the Armed Forces of the United States.

Veterans’ Bill of Rights

M.G.L. ch. 115 and 108 CMR (Code of Massachusetts Regulations)

You have a right to:

  • File a written application for veterans’ benefits at any time. You can insist upon this right, even if told that you are not eligible. 108 CMR 4:02 (1)
  • Receive assistance from your local veterans’ agent in completing your application (M.G.L. ch. 115, s. 3);
  • Receive a full explanation of the services and benefits available under M.G.L. ch. 115, as well as other available benefits;
  • Receive a written notice and explanation of the approval or denial of your application for benefits (108 CMR 8.02);
  • Be treated with dignity and respect and to receive accurate, courteous, and timely service;
  • Appeal and request a hearing if you disagree with any action taken in your case [108 CMR 8.07(1)];
  • Expect confidentiality; personal information will not be collected or used except for the purpose of determining your eligibility for benefits (M.G.L. ch. 40, s.51);
  • Receive fair and equal treatment without regard to sex, race, religion, handicap, ethnicity, or national origin (M.G.L. ch. 151B, s.3);
  • Preference in public employment (M.G.L. ch.31, s.12, 26, 28 and ch. 41, s.112.)

For additional information on your rights, speak to your local city/town VSO, or call the Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services (617-210-5480) or visit www.mass.gov/veterans.

Governor’s Advisory Council on Veterans’ Services

Executive Order No. 483

The Governor’s Advisory Council on Veterans’ Services was established in April 2007. The Council advises the Governor and the Secretaries of Health and Human Services and Veterans’ Services on issues relating to veterans of the Commonwealth. The Council reviews and assesses state and federal statutes and programs that relate to veterans, and the delivery of services to veterans, including healthcare, education, housing, outreach, training, and retraining. The Council serves as an educational resource for citizens and elected and appointed officials on veterans’ issues. The Lieutenant Governor serves as the chair of the Council.