Definition of "Veteran"

Federal Definition


Under Federal Law a "Veteran" is any person who served honorably on active duty in the armed forces of the United States. (Discharges marked General and Under Honorable Conditions qualify also).

State Definition


MGL Ch. 4, Sec. 7, Cl. 43rd as Amended by the Acts of 2004

Effective August 30, 2004
To be a "veteran" under Massachusetts law a person is required to have either:
  • 180 days of regular active duty service and a last discharge or release under honorable conditions, or;
  • 90 days of active duty service, one day of which is during "wartime" per the chart below, and a last discharge or release under honorable conditions

Wartime Dates

*Naval and Marine DD214 must indicate Expeditionary Medal. All DD214's must specify campaign: Lebanon, Grenada or Panama.
War "Wartime" Dates
WWI April 6, 1917 - November 11, 1918
WWII September 16, 1940 - December 31, 1946 / Merchant Marine: One day between December 7, 1941 - December 31, 1946
Korea June 25, 1950 - January 31, 1955
Vietnam August 5, 1964 - May 7, 1975
Lebanon Campaign*
August 25, 1982 - To be determined
Grenada Campaign*
October 25, 1983 - December 15, 1983
Panama Campaign*
December 20, 1989 - January 31, 1990
Persian Gulf*
August 2, 1990 - To be determined

Guard Members


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 of 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. The Member's last discharge or release must be under honorable conditions

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 he/she served some time in the campaign and was awarded the Purple Heart, or suffered a service-connected disability, 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.