Definition of a Veteran


  • Any person (male or female) whose last discharge or release from his or her wartime service was under honorable conditions.
  • Any person (male or female) who served in the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, or Coast Guard of the United States for not less than 90 days active service, at least 1 day of which was for wartime service, provided that any person who so served in wartime and was awarded a service-connected disability or a Purple Heart, or who died in such service under conditions other than dishonorable, shall be deemed to be a veteran not withstanding his or her failure to complete 90 days of active service.

Armed Forces

Includes Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, or Coast Guard
However, 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 declared 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 the said armed forces on his/her own application or solicitation by reason of his/her being an enemy alien.
  • Any person who has been proved 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.

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).

Massachusetts Definition

Under Massachusetts General Law, chapter 4, section 7, clause 43 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:
    1. 180 days of regular active duty service and a last discharge or release under honorable conditions or
    2. 90 days of active duty service, 1 day of which is during "wartime" per the chart below, 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.
War Wartime Dates
World War 1
April 6, 1917 - November 11, 1918
World War 2
(Note: Merchant Marine, 1 day between
December 7, 1941 through December 31, 1946)
September 16, 1940 - 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 1 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.