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Army Definition of a Veteran

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Serving in the U.S. Army is an honor and privilege that allows you to train for professions beyond your military service and travel at military outposts around the world. But serving in the military also allows you to become an Army veteran and garner the benefits earned with your commitment. The definition of a veteran varies from federal to state levels. Once declared a veteran, there are a variety of benefits provided.

Definition of Army Veteran

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According to various state and federal agencies, including the Veterans Administration and the U.S. Army, the definition of an Army veteran is characterized as a soldier who has served at least one day of service.

Federal Definition

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Under U.S. law, a veteran is someone who has served in the Armed Forces of the United States. The soldier must have served and been discharged honorably. The U.S. Army is a branch of the Armed Forces.

State Definition

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Each state has its own definition for a soldier. For example, South Dakota state laws have a variety of criteria to consider a solider a veteran. Although the federal government identifies the soldier a veteran after one day of service, South Dakota classifies a soldier as a veteran relative to war-time service or if they received a medal of honor during a wartime conflict.


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Former or current members of the the Armed Forces Reserves or National Guard don't qualify unless they were active duty in the Army or other Armed Forces (Marines, Air Force, Navy or Coast Guard). The exception to this rule is if the President of the United States calls reservists to service by executive order. The presidential order qualifies reservists as veterans.


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The federal government's Department of Veteran Affairs offers veterans a variety of benefits. This includes pensions and disability for retirees and soldiers permanently injured during their service. Home loans, vocational training and life insurance are also available to veterans.