By Buddy Blouin

Speaking generally, if you asked the average civilian to explain what retired Veterans are, they’d likely provide an answer that gets close to the target but doesn’t quite hit it. Furthermore, if you asked the average American to explain the difference between a Veteran vs retiree, it would likely come off as redundant. But there are differences between a retiree vs Veteran. This is important for those serving considering your status will affect the benefits that you are entitled to after serving. Below, we’re breaking down retired military vs Veteran status to showcase that while both are worthy titles, there are still important differences between the two.

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Do You Have to Be Retired to Be a Veteran?

You do not have to be officially retired to be considered a Veteran. Retired Veterans are those that served a total of 20 years in the military, whereas a Veteran is any person that has served in the U.S. military and has become discharged or released in a manner that is not designated as dishonorable.

The difference between Veteran and retired is important because your designation will affect the benefits you will receive in your civilian life. For example, a closer look at a Veteran vs. retired military person showcases that there are different benefits available, such as TRICARE For Life.

Determining Veteran status can feel convoluted at times but is broken down clearly by the VA to help everyone understand where they fall and the benefits they are entitled to depending on their status.

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Is Veterans Day Only for Retired Military?

No, Veterans Day isn’t only for retired military, but rather a day to remember the sacrifice of all Veterans as a whole. Remember, to be a retired Veteran, you’ll need to have a total of 20 years in the American Armed Forces.

Therefore, Veterans Day isn’t just for military retirees, but for anyone that would qualify as a Veteran regardless of their time spent serving. It’s also worth noting that Memorial Day is specifically for Veterans that have lost their lives fighting for our freedoms and Armed Forces Day is for active military members defending today.

Considerations and Repercussions

For some, the idea of military retiree vs Veteran may not be the biggest thing in the world, but for many, it’s a significant difference. This is because the difference in benefits can have long-lasting impacts on warfighters and their families.

For example, if you are injured and can no longer serve in the U.S. military, what happens down the line when you’re in need of medical benefits but don’t qualify for all that you could have should you have retired from the force?

There are many conversations that happen on several levels encompassing social, economic, political, and more on the idea of supporting our troops.

Yes, it would take a commitment from a money standpoint to provide more benefits, but if we are truly to support the military community, it’s a bit curious that not all Veterans can receive the same benefits when they walk away from serving.

We continue to ask voluntarily for Americans to join the military and to help defend our country, but not everyone reives the same benefits when it’s all said and done. At the same time, sadly many within the military community struggle on multiple levels when returning to civilian life.

Breaking down the number of Veterans there are will provide a demographic consisting of millions of people, yet when it comes to retired Veterans, those numbers dwindle drastically. With them, so too does the access to certain benefits after serving.

How Many Retired Veterans Are There in the US?

The United States is home to 16.5 million Veterans, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But this represents the entire Veteran population. Since only one-sixth of one percent of the entire American population is a retired Veteran, this means approximately 591,000 Americans are retired Veterans.

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