Office of Public Affairs
Chapter 9 Reserve and National Guard
Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors
Eligibility for VA Benefits
Generally, all Reserve and National Guard members discharged or released under conditions that are not dishonorable are eligible for some VA benefits. The length of your service, service commitment and/or your duty status may determine your eligibility for specific benefits.
Eligibility requirements for several VA benefits include a certain length of active service. Active service in the National Guard or Reserve includes:
Active duty (Title 10) – full-time duty in the Armed Forces, such as unit deployment during war, including travel to and from such duty, except active duty for training, OR Full-time National Guard duty (Title 32) – duty performed for which you are entitled to receive pay from the federal government, such as responding to a national emergency or performing duties as an Active Guard Reserve (AGR) member.
Note: A state or territory’s governor may activate National Guard members for State Active Duty, such as in response to a natural or man-made disaster. State Active Duty is based on state law and does not qualify as “active service” for VA benefits. Unlike full-time National Guard duty, National Guard members on State Active Duty are paid with state funds as opposed to federal funds.
Qualifying for VA Health Care
Under the “Combat Veteran” authority, Combat Veterans who were discharged or released from active service on or after Jan. 28, 2003, are eligible for enrollment in Priority Group 6, unless eligible for enrollment in a higher priority group. This authority provides a 5-year enrollment period, which begins on the discharge or separation date. These Combat Veterans are eligible for health care services and community living care for conditions possibly related to their military service, and are not required to disclose their income information unless they would like to be considered for a higher priority status, beneficiary travel benefits, or exemption of co-pays for care unrelated to their military service.
Activated Reservists and members of the National Guard are eligible if they served on active duty in a theater of combat operations after Nov. 11, 1998, and were discharged under other than dishonorable conditions.
Veterans who enroll with VA under this authority will continue to be enrolled even after their enhanced eligibility period ends. At the end of their enhanced eligibility period, Veterans enrolled in Priority Group 6 may be shifted to a lower priority group depending on their income level. For additional information, call 1-877-222-VETS (8387).
OEF/OIF/OND Veterans may be eligible for a one-time dental evaluation and treatment following separation from service, if they did not have a dental exam prior to separation. Veterans must request a dental appointment within the first 180 days post separation from active duty.
VA pays monthly compensation benefits for disabilities incurred or aggravated during active duty, or active duty for training for disabilities as a result of injury or disease, or inactive duty training for disabilities due to injury, heart attack, or stroke. Additionally, the discharge must be under other than dishonorable conditions. For additional information see Chapter 2, “Service-connected Disabilities.”
Post-9/11 GI Bill
The Post-9/11 GI Bill is an education benefit program for Servicemembers and Veterans who served on active duty after Sept. 10, 2001. Benefits are payable for training pursued on or after Aug. 1, 2009. No payments can be made under this program for training pursued before that date.
To be eligible, the Servicemember or Veteran must serve at least 90 aggregate days on active duty after Sept. 10, 2001, and remain on active duty or be honorably discharged. Active duty includes active service performed by National Guard members under title 32 U.S.C. for the purposes of organizing, administering, recruiting, instructing, or training the National Guard; or under section 502(f) for the purpose of responding to a national emergency.
Eligibility for benefits expires 15 years from the last period of active duty of at least 90 consecutive days. If released for a service- connected disability after at least 30 days of continuous service, eligibility ends 15 years from when the member is released for the service-connected disability. If, on August1, 2009, the Servicemember or Veteran is eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill; the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve; or the Reserve Educational Assistance Program, and qualifies for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, an irrevocable election must be made to receive benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve
Members of reserve elements of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, and members of the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard, may be entitled to up to 36 months of educational benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) – Selected Reserve. To be eligible, the participant must:
- Have a six-year obligation in the Selected Reserve or National Guard signed after June 30, 1985, or, if an officer, agree to serve six years in addition to the original obligation.
- Complete initial active duty for training (IADT).
- Meet the requirement to receive a high school diploma or equivalency certificate before Completing IADT.
- Remain in good standing in a Selected Reserve or National Guard unit.
Reserve components determine eligibility for benefits. VA does not make decisions about eligibility and cannot make payments until the Reserve component has determined eligibility and notified VA.
Period of Eligibility:
Benefits generally end the day a reservist or National Guard member separates from the military. Additionally, if in the Selected Reserve and called to active duty, VA can generally extend the eligibility period by the length of time on active duty plus four months for each period of active duty. Once this extension is granted, it will not be taken away after leaving the Selected Reserve.
Eligible members separated because of unit deactivation, a disability that was not caused by misconduct, or otherwise involuntarily separated during Oct. 1, 1991, through Dec. 31, 2001, have 14 years after their eligibility date to use benefits. Similarly, members involuntarily separated from the Selected Reserve due to a deactivation of their unit between Oct.1, 2007, and Sept. 30, 2014, may receive a 14-year period of eligibility.
The rate for full-time training effective Oct.1, 2013, is $362.00 a month for 36 months. Part-time benefits are reduced proportionately. For complete current rates, visit www.www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/. DoD may make additional contributions.
Participants may pursue training at a college or university, or take technical training at any approved facility. Training includes undergraduate, graduate, or post-graduate courses; state licensure and certification; courses for a certificate or diploma from business, technical or vocational schools; cooperative training; apprenticeship or on-the-job training; correspondence courses; independent study programs; flight training; entrepreneurship training; remedial, deficiency or refresher courses needed to complete a program of study; or preparatory courses for tests required or used for admission to an institution of higher learning or graduate school. Accelerated payments for certain high-cost programs are authorized effective Jan.28, 2008.
Education and Career Counseling:
Refer to Chapter 11, “Transition Assistance,” for detailed information on available services.
Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP)
This program provides educational assistance to members of National Guard and Reserve components who are called or ordered to active duty service in response to a war or national emergency as declared by the President or Congress. Visit www.benefits.va.gov/ gibill/ for more information.
Eligibility is determined by DoD or the Department of Homeland Security. Generally, a Servicemember who serves on active duty on or after Sept.11, 2001, for at least 90 consecutive days, or accumulates a total of three or more of years of service is eligible.
Reserve or National Guard members whose eligibility is based upon continuous service receive a payment rate based upon their number of continuous days on active duty. Members who qualify after the accumulation of three or more years of aggregate active duty service receive the full payment allowable.
|Active Duty Service
|Monthly Payment Rate for Full-Time Students
|90 days but less than one year
|One year but less than two years
|Two or more continuous years
Participants may pursue training at a college or university, or take technical training at any approved facility. Training includes undergraduate, graduate, or post-graduate courses; state licensure and certification courses; courses for a certificate or diploma from business, technical or vocational schools; cooperative training; apprenticeship or on-the-job training; correspondence courses; independent study programs; flight training; entrepreneurship training; remedial, deficiency, or refresher courses needed to complete a program of study; or preparatory courses for tests required or used for admission to an institution of higher learning or graduate school. Accelerated payments for certain high-cost programs are authorized.
Period of Eligibility:
Prior to Jan. 28, 2008, members of the Selected Reserve called to active duty were eligible as long as they continued to serve in the Selected Reserve. They lost eligibility if they went into the Inactive Ready Reserve (IRR). Members of the IRR called to active duty were eligible as long as they stayed in the IRR or Selected Reserve.
Effective Jan. 28, 2008, members who are called up from the Selected Reserve, complete their REAP-qualifying period of active duty service, and then return to the Selected Reserve for the remainder of their service contract, have 10 years to use their benefits after separation.
In addition, members who are called up from the IRR or Inactive National Guard (ING), complete their REAP-qualifying period of active duty service, and then enter the Selected Reserve to complete their service contract, have 10 years to use their benefits after separation.
Education and Career Counseling:
Refer to Chapter 101, “Transition Assistance”,, for detailed information on available services.
Home Loan Guaranty
National Guard members and reservists are eligible for a VA home loan if they have completed at least six years of honorable service, are mobilized for active duty service for a period of at least 90 days, or are discharged because of a service-connected disability.
Reservists who do not qualify for VA housing loan benefits may be eligible for loans on favorable terms insured by the federal Housing Administration (FHA), which is a part of HUD. Additional information can be found in Chapter 6.
National Guard members and reservists are eligible to receive SGLI, VGLI, and FSGLI. They may also be eligible for SGLI Traumatic Injury Protection if severely injured and suffering a qualifying loss, Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance if they receive a service-connected disability rating from VA, and Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance if approved for a Specially Adapted Housing Grant. Complete details can be found in Chapter 7 — “VA Life Insurance”.
Burial and Memorial Benefits
VA provides a burial flag to memorialize members or former members of the Selected Reserve who served their initial obligation, or were discharged for a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty, or died while a member of the Selected Reserve.
Reservists and National Guard members may be eligible for additional burial benefits if their death was due to an injury or disease that developed during, or was aggravated during, active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty for training. Burial benefits may include burial in a national cemetery; an inscribed headstone, marker, or medallion; a Presidential Memorial Certificate; and an allowance to partially reimburse burial and funeral costs. Additional information about burial benefits that may be available can be found in Chapter7 — 8 “Burial and Memorial Benefits”.
A person who left a civilian job to enter active duty in the armed forces is entitled to return to the job after discharge or release from active duty if they:
- Gave advance notice of military service to the employer.
- Did not exceed five years cumulative absence from the civilian job (with some exceptions).
- Submitted a timely application for re-employment.
- Did not receive a dishonorable or other punitive discharge.
The law calls for a returning Veteran to be placed in the job as if he/she had never left, including benefits based on seniority such as pensions, pay increases and promotions. The law also prohibits discrimination in hiring, promotion, or other advantages of employment on the basis of military service. Veterans seeking re-employment should apply, verbally or in writing, to the company’s hiring official and keep a record of their application. If problems arise, contact the Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) in the state of the employer.
Federal employees not properly re-employed may appeal directly to the Merit Systems Protection Board. Non-federal employees may file complaints in U.S. District Court. For information, visit www.dol.gov/vets/programs
Transition Assistance Advisor Program
The Transition Assistance Advisor (TAA) program is a partnership between the National Guard and VA to assist Veterans. The TAA Program, housed within the National Guard (NG) Office of Warrior Support, places an NG/VA trained expert at the NG Headquarters in each of the 50states as well as PR, GU, VI, and the District of Columbia. The advisor serves as an advocate for Guard members and their families, as well as other geographically dispersed military members and families.
In collaboration with state and local coalition partners, the TAA Program provides VA benefit enrollment assistance, referrals, and assists in facilitating access for Veterans through the overwhelming maze of programs, with the compassion of someone who knows what it is like to transition from the Guard to active duty and then back to civilian status.
Advisors receive annual training from VA experts in VA health care and benefits to assist Guard members and their families with access to VA health care facilities and TRICARE facilities within their network. To find a local Transition Assistance Advisor call 1-877-577- 6691 or go to www.taapmo.com.
Outreach for OEF/OIF/OND Veterans
VA’s OEF/OIF/OND Outreach Teams focus on improving outreach to members of the National Guard and Reserve by engaging them throughout the deployment cycle with targeted messages and face- to-face encounters with VA staff. These outreach teams are located at VAMCs to help ease the transition from military to civilian life.
To learn more, visit www.oefoif.va.gov. Veterans can also call the toll-free OEF/OIF/OND Help Line at 1-866-606-8216for answers to questions about VA benefits, health care, and enrollment procedures.
Air Reserve Personnel Center
The Air Reserve Personnel Center (ARPC) is available to assist with various personnel issues, including requests for personnel records, copies of DD Form 214, or other military documents. Many Veterans file an Air Force Board Correction of Military Records (AFBCMR) or write their Congressman to get these basic issues resolved which requires that the request be routed through appropriate authorities, sometimes taking up to 180 days. Alternately, the ARPC routinely handles these actions on a much quicker basis. Members should call the ARPC for assistance at 1-800-525-0102 or logon to gum-crm.csd.disa.mil.