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Am I a Veteran

Mans Face

“What is a Veteran?”

One of the biggest issues that faces a number of veterans in their initial hunt for information is determining whether they are in fact a veteran. Many are not aware that you are a veteran if you served in the Canadian Armed Forces. To be a veteran you did not have to serve in a combat situation or a theatre of war. Many veterans served in Peace Keeping Missions or the Reserves.

Here are some definitions to help you find out if you are a veteran.
Please note that members of the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) are in a unique category, as many served as members of the RCMP in Canadian Military operations. We will have more on this in the near future! Stay tuned!

Veterans Affairs Canada Definition

First, VAC (Veteran’s Affairs Canada) announced a new definition in 2001 that reads as follows:

VAC and the Department of National Defence (DND) have extended veteran status to former Canadian Forces members and Reserve Force members who:meet DND‘s military occupational classification requirements (MOC-qualified); and have been released from the Forces with an honourable discharge. Veteran status recognizes the potential risk that Canadian Forces members assume by donning the uniform and pledging allegiance. Veteran status does not mean that all former members are eligible to receive VAC benefits and services. As in the past, access to VAC benefits and services will continue to be based on your eligibility status and need.

The Royal Canadian Legion Definition

The Legion Dominion Command approved a definition at the 38th Convention in June 2000 which reads as follows:

A veteran is any person who is serving or who has honourably served in the Armed Forces of Canada, the Commonwealth or its wartime allies: or who has served in the Merchant Navy or Ferry Command during wartime.
It is my understanding wartime service is a requirement only for the determination of the Merchant Navy or Ferry Command and not for regular or reserve forces. That is an understandable condition, otherwise all merchant navy men and women would be deemed to be Veterans by the Legion definition.
Veteran’s Affairs Canada does not classify veterans based on any wartime service, again understandably as it is seldom that war is declared in modern day conflicts. Many are police actions or United Nations peacekeeping missions.

More Clarification

The following was received on June 28, 2006 from Veterans Affairs Canada after there were additional questions at my Legion Branch. This should conclude any questions from Members as to their Veteran Status.
I quote from the VAC response:

Veteran status recognizes the potential risk that Canadian Forces members assume by donning the uniform and pledging allegiance. Veteran status does not mean that all former members are eligible to receive VAC benefits and services. As in the past, access to VAC benefits and services will continue to be based on your eligibility status and need.
Canadian Forces members need not have served where war was declared or in a combat zone. If they served in Golan Heights, Cyprus, and other UN zones, as long as they meet DND’s military occupational classification requirements (MOC-qualified); and have been released from the Forces with an honourable discharged, they would have Veteran status with our department.