Saturday, April 20, 2024


As Veterans Day nears (about five weeks out), I thought I would revisit one of my very first articles and a common topic in the office. Am I a Veteran? What is a Veteran? Who is a Veteran? Regardless of how the question is worded, I do not have a simple answer. Context is important in determining Veteran status. Are you looking to grab your complimentary meal at Perkins on November 11 (Veterans Day for those not tracking), or are you requesting a VA Home Loan Certificate of Eligibility?

Due to the diversity of our Veteran population, at least six “eras” of service, I would like to provide some context of my own with a short disclaimer. Each generation of Veterans has been scrutinized by their predecessors. I respect the viewpoints of others and I am aware some have their own definitions and interpretations. My intentions are not to alienate but instead to inform and educate.

Merriam-Webster defines Veteran as “a former member of the armed forces”. According to the Code of Federal Regulations Title 38 Chapter 1 Part 3, “veteran means a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable”. The Minnesota Statutes Chapter 197 Section 197.447 Veteran, Defined, in part states “a citizen of the United States or a resident alien who has been separated under honorable conditions from any branch of the armed forces of the United States after having served on active duty for 181 consecutive days or by reason of disability incurred while serving on active duty”.

It can be confusing, even for VSOs. The federal and state definitions are slightly conflicting and require additional definitions to clarify. They serve the primary purpose of determining eligibility for benefits. Simply put, a Veteran is someone who served in the military. A Veteran is your mother, father, or other relative. A Veteran is your neighbor, teacher, or co-worker. Veterans make up nearly 7% of the nation’s adult population, more than 9% in Lake County. There is no single identifying physical attribute of a Veteran. A Veteran is a person, who selflessly and honorably serves their country.

Contact your County Veterans Service Officer with questions regarding Veteran status and benefit eligibility. Please do not forget to leave a message if we do not answer, as we are busy assisting others. Please be patient with your CVSO, as we are busy attempting to assist all our Veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors.

Brad Anderson and Melissa Crandall are the Lake County Veterans Service Officers and can be reached at 218.834.8326 or cvso@co.lake.mn.us

Karen Christianson is the Cook County Veterans Service Officer and can be reached at 218.387.3639, or karen.christianson@co.cook.mn.us

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