Do Coast Guards Receive Veteran Status?

   The United States is known for commending its troops and praising those who served in the military forces. As of 2019, they were 18 million vets in the country — 485,157 of which were World War II vets. More so, according to the most recent census, veterans make up 7.6% of the total U.S. population.   

As defined by Federal regulations, a veteran is a former member of the Armed Forces of the United States. It includes all military members who served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, who did not get a “Dishonorable Discharge” (D.D.) or a “Bad Conduct Discharge” (B.C.D.). 

Do Coast Guards Receive Veteran Status?

For many, it can be confusing as to whether or not Coast Guard members receive veteran status. The confusion stems from the fact that the Coast Guard is at the Department of Homeland Security’s service. But, in times of conflict, all assets of the force operate as a service in the U.S. Navy.  

As a result, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) falls into one of the five armed forces of the country and the eight Uniformed Services of the United States. 

Coast Guard Veterans Benefits  

Aside from the pride and honor of serving for their country, veterans of the USCG who served full-time are eligible for Veterans Administration (V.A.) benefits. These advantages usually include:  

  • Disability Compensation, a tax-free benefit given for disabilities that resulted or were worsened by injuries or diseases that happened while on the force. 
  • Health Care
  • Pensions, also known as “wartime pension” is given to those veterans who do not qualify for military retired pay from the force. An ex-military member is eligible for a veteran’s Pension if he/she was not discharged for dishonorable reasons, served 90 days of active military duty, served during wartime, and is at least 65 years old. Depending on the force, other requisites may apply. 
  • Home Loans
  • Life Insurance
  • Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) is commonly known as the Chapter 31 program. It provides services to veterans with mental or physical disabilities to help them obtain (and maintain) suitable employment and earn a decent living. 
  • Education, training, and career counseling.

However, not every veteran is eligible for all (or some) of the benefits listed above. Military members who enlisted after September 8, 1980, must have served their full enlistment period, or if less, at least two years of continuous active duty.  

Do Coast Guards Receive Veteran Status?

Note that there are some clear exemptions. For instance, if a member of the Guard is injured or falls ill during active service before completing their enlistment period, he/she can still benefit from V.A. disability compensation.  

Additionally, surviving spouses can qualify to receive a Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (D.I.C.). This benefit is granted, especially to the wives and husbands of veterans who died during active military service or from a service-connected disability.  

Military Discounts  

In addition to the V.A. benefits, there are many stores, services, and online websites that offer military discounts for veterans and active-duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces. Some establishments and companies even extend those benefits and discounts to service members, retired military, spouses, and family members. 

However, not everyone can claim a military discount. To profit from these advantages, a person usually needs to present a military I.D. or proof of enrollment.  

Military discounts range from auto insurance and retail to restaurants and sporting goods. Below a list of some of the most popular brands that have military discount policies: 

  • Abercrombie & Fitch 
  • American Express 
  • Apple 
  • AT&T 
  • Avis 
  • Banana Republic 
  • Best Buy 
  • Columbia Sportswear 
  • Dell  
  • Foot Locker 
  • Gap  
  • Geico  
  • Home Depot 
  • Liberty Mutual Insurance 
  • Lowes 
  • Microsoft 
  • Nike 
  • Old Navy 
  • Sprint 
  • Timberland 
  • Verizon 

War Coast Guard Veterans 

According to the U.S. Congressional Research Service, roughly 241,000 Coast Guard personnel served during World War II. Within the war, the USCG provided weather forecasts for Europe, was involved in rescue operations, actively disarmed the enemy, and took thousands of prisoners in combat. As a result, there were over 1900 troop casualties. 

To qualify for a V.A. pension, a WWII U.S. Coast Guard veteran must have served at least 90 days of active duty (like any other veteran) and have actively served a minimum of one day during the wartime period of December 7, 1941- December 31, 1946. If the veteran started service on December 31, 1946, he must have served until, at least, July 26, 1947.  

Do Coast Guards Receive Veteran Status?

Other ex-military members who are War Coast Guard Veterans are those who participated in the Korean War. As you know, during the 1950s, the USCG assisted in the evacuation of the Korean Peninsula. And according to statistics, approximately 8,500 U.S. Coast Guards served during this time.  

Consequently, veterans of the Korean War are also eligible for V.A. pensions if they served at least 90 days of active duty, with at least one day during June 27, 1950-January 31, 1955. 

 Curious to know why the Coast Guard escorts ships? Read more here:

Coast Guard Role & Duties  

The USCG was founded by the U.S. Congress on August 4, 1790, and was formerly known as the Revenue-Marine. It constitutes the oldest continuous seagoing service of the country. The USCG is the coastal defense, search, rescue, and maritime law enforcement branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.  

As mentioned before, the USCG operates under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (D.H.S.). But, it can be transferred during wartime, or if the President of the United States (or U.S. Congress) considers necessary to the U.S. Department of the Navy. Nonetheless, the last historical transfer happened in 1941 during World War II.  

As of 2018, the Coast Guard listed 40,992 active members, 7,000 reservists, and 8,577 full-time civilian employees. And although the USCG is the smallest of the U.S. military service branches (if the Space Force is not taken into consideration) in terms of membership, the U.S. Coast Guard ranks as the 12th largest naval force in the world.  

In short, the Coast Guard performs various official missions including: 

  • Port & Waterway Security

The Ports and Waterway Security is the USCG’s primary duty. Coast Guard members are in charge of protecting marine resources and maritime commerce. They are also responsible for the safety of all those who live, work, or recreate on the water. 

  • Drug Interdiction

The USCG also plays a vital role in the country’s defense against drug smuggling and contraband. Coast Guard drug interdiction accounts for 50% of all U.S. government seizures of cocaine each year. 

  • Aids to Navigation

Another crucial role of the Coast Guard is the maintenance and care of all maritime aids to navigation, including buoys, markers, lighthouses, and symbols to ensure all recreational and commercial boaters can safely navigate. 

  • Search & Rescue (S.A.R.)

The Coast Guard is the leader in the field of search and rescue in the U.S. The USCG has S.A.R. facilities on every main port and coast of the country, including Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, and Puerto Rico, the Great Lakes, and other inland waterways. 

  • Living Marine Resources

The nation’s marine ecosystems are vital to the country’s economy and health. Hence, ensuring that the U.S. enjoys a rich, diverse and sustainable ocean environment is another primary Coast Guard mission. 

The Coast Guard is also the federal agency enforces all domestic and international fisheries laws, and protects the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) from foreign infringement. Many people are not aware of this, but the U.S. EEZ is the largest in the world (covering 3.4 million square miles of ocean and over 90,000 miles of coastline.)  

  • Marine Safety

Marine Safety is one of the most well-known duties of USCG. But, the Coast Guard does more than just aiding mariners in peril. It is their job to licensing mariners, documenting U.S. flagged vessels, and implementing a variety of safety programs. 

  • Defense Readiness

The Coast Guard has four major national defense missions including: 

  1. Maritime intercept operations 
  2. Deployed port operations/security and defense 
  3. Peacetime engagement 
  4. Environmental defense operations.  

These missions are vital military tasks assigned to the USCG not only in times of war and crisis but also in peacetime. 

  • Migrant Interdiction

As the U.S. primary maritime law enforcement agency, the Coast Guard enforces immigration laws at sea. Meaning that they must detain undocumented migrants and prohibit entry via maritime routes — and increasingly difficult task as the number of people who try to enter the country illegally rises every year.  

Know that the USCG is also responsible for other maritime law enforcement and operations.  


Coast Guard Jobs 

Do Coast Guards Receive Veteran Status?

Now that we are familiar with the extensive duties and responsibilities of the Coast Guard, it is crucial to highlight that there are many departments and jobs available within the force. Plus, not all of the positions include water posts or are necessarily military-related.  

Below a list of some of the most popular USCG jobs: 

  • Aviation Maintenance Technician
  • Aviation Survival Technician
  • Boatswain’s Mate
  • Culinary Specialist
  • Damage Controlman
  • Electronics’Technician 
  • Gunner’s Mate
  • Health Service’s Technician 
  • Intelligence Specialist 
  • Maritime Enforcement Specialist
  • Marine Science Technician
  • Operations Specialist
  • Storekeeper
  • Yeoman


Requirements to be a U.S. Coast Guard 

Just like any other branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, the USCG has a series of qualifications and basic requirements for candidates who voluntarily want to pursue a career within the Guard, including: 

  • Proof of being a U.S. citizen, U.S. citizen, or a resident alien. 
  • Be between 17-22 years old at the time of the application. Note that all candidates under the age of 18 must provide written consent from his/her parents or legal guardians.  
  • Have a high school diploma. 
  • Have no more than two dependents. 
  • Take and pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test  
  • Pass the Military Entrance Processing Station medical exam. 
  • Have a competitive Scholastic Aptitude Test Score (S.A.T.), meaning at least 570-670 in reading and writing and 610-673 in math.  
  • Have a willingness to serve on or around the water. 
  • Know how to swim — although there is some basic training, it is not intended to teach candidates how to swim, but how to adapt to sea tides and ocean waters.  

Additionally, know that some certain conditions and illnesses might prevent you from joining the U.S. Coast Guard, such as: 

  • Ulcers
  • Varicose veins
  • Fistula, achalasia (or other dysmotility disorders)
  • Chronic or recurrent esophagitis
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Immunodeficiency
  • Leukopenia
  • Severe hearing loss
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Conditions that limit the motion of upper or lower extremities
  • And more


Related Questions

What are the Uniformed Services of the United States?

The U.S. has eight federal Uniformed Services as determined by Title 10 of the U.S. Code — which outlines the duties of the armed forces in the country. These services include: 

– United States Army 

– United States Marine Corps 

– United States Navy 

– United States Air Force 

– United States Coast Guard 

– United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (PHSCC) 

– National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps (NOAA Corps) 

– United States Space Force* 

*Note that sometimes the United States Space Force is excluded from the list, as many believe that it falls within the U.S. Air Force.  

Each of the services mentioned above is directed by a federal executive department and supervised by an appointed civilian Cabinet leader. 

How much does a Coast Guard make?

The United States government sets the pay scale for every military branch in the country (and the Coast Guard is no exception.) As a result, Coastie’s basic pay starts at roughly $1,500 per month (or $18,648 a year).  

Nonetheless, the salary highly depends on the years the military member spends on the force and their rank. In other words, the more years you serve, the higher the salary. For instance, an Admiral with 20-40 years of experience can make $15,800 a month (or $189,600 per year.) 

What is a DD214?

The D.D. Form 214, also known as the DD214, is a Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. It is a document issued by the United States Department of Defense once a military member is retired or discharged from active duty in the Armed Forces. 

However, having a DD214 does not necessarily make you a veteran. The document is proof of military service.  

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Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.