Most of the topics for this blog come from my interactions with real Veterans, and the questions they ask. Unlike Alex Trebek, I don’t have all of the answers, and occasionally I have to look them up. That was the case today when speaking with a Veteran about combat. His question was: “What exactly makes anyone a combat Veteran?” Some may be quick to say that serving in combat makes you a combat Veteran, but there is more to it than that.
The VA lists several different ways in which a Veteran can prove he or she was in combat.
· If you received a combat service medal, then you are considered as one.
· If you received hostile fire pay, imminent danger pay or tax benefits
· If you received military service documentation that documents combat theater
So, does serving in a foreign country automatically qualify me as a combat Veteran? Not necessarily. Even if you served in Iraq or Afghanistan during the past ten years, it does not guarantee that you are a combat Veteran.
How can you find out? Well, your DD-214 is a great place to start. Your Discharge won’t automatically say that you were a combat Veteran though…that would be too easy. Box 13 on more modern DD-214’s is where they list medals, awards, and ribbons. The VA does recognize certain medals etc. as a qualifier for combat service. (That list will appear in an upcoming blog.)
Also listed on your DD-214 is the type of pay you received. Box 18 would be the place to find out if you received Hostile Fire Pay or the Imminent Danger Pay. It is important to note that this can appear in box 13, though it is rare for it to appear there.
Overall, proving combat, and stressors for that matter can be a difficult task. This is just one of the many reasons so many Veterans hire our firm to represent them. If you are having trouble proving your combat service, give us a call today for a free consultation. If you would like to learn even more, request a free copy of our guide here.