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Where can I learn more about 1950s veteran's benefits?
Old 10-02-2012, 08:58 PM   #1
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Where can I learn more about 1950s veteran's benefits?

I have a question for you 1950s military veterans-- or military historians.

Last month I spent a couple weeks with Dad. Alzheimer's has taken his short-term memory and much of his long-term memory. However when I was going through the last boxes of his photo albums, I also found his DD-214. He no longer remembers any of this other than "being in the Army".

I don't think he's entitled to any military benefits, but I'm obligated to find out. The problem is that we only have a DD-214, a couple sets of orders, and my vague memories.

Dad got his BS.EE from U of Cincinnati in the 1950s. I know he graduated from high school in 1952 but I'm not sure what year he graduated from college-- 1957 seems about right. He did it on a work-study program (back then it was called co-op) that involved several months of internships between semesters. That program took five or six years to complete instead of four, but the internships made it almost free.

He was drafted by the Army, of course, but I remember him talking about student deferments. I think he was a college grad by the time that they called him up, because his DD-214 lists 17 years of education and a BS.EE. He was also working at Westinghouse on electrical distribution systems and nuclear power plants, so his "critical skills" meant that he was given some sort of reduced military service commitment. Under the "Reserve Forces Act of 1955", he was inducted in Jan '58. Presumably that was recruit training because in May (the end of four months) he was promoted to E-2. In August he was released from active duty training and transferred to the Army Reserve to finish seven years and six months in the inactive Reserve. Before that, according to the DD-214, he had three months of total active service plus three months & 12 days of "other" service. I'm not sure what that "other" service means, but it all took place between 21 Jan- 2 Aug 1958 so the days match the dates. He has a graduation certificate dated Aug 58 from the Fort Knox Armor Center for completing three months of active duty formal training under the "Reserve Forces Act Program"... so maybe he had three months & 12 days of recruit training plus three months at this formal training.

All I remember is that he told me his military training culminated in him spending a night guarding a tank and being challenged to recite the General Orders of a Sentry. The next day he transferred to the Army Reserve and never donned a uniform again.

The DD-214 specifically says that "total active service" is three months and zero days. Perhaps recruit training didn't count, but I'm pretty certain that it also means he has less than 180 days of active duty. Under today's rules he wouldn't be eligible for benefits. I suspect that 1958 was the same rules.

Can any of you tell me if that seems correct? Better yet, are there any websites for verifying this information? I figured I'd start here but I can also move this to Military.com, TogetherWeServed.Navy.com, USAA, and a few other forums.
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Old 10-03-2012, 12:05 AM   #2
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You might also inquire at a local American Legion or VFW chapter for info. on tracking it down.

Here's a List of veterans' organizations - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Old 10-07-2012, 09:26 PM   #3
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http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42324.pdf

I think he is entitled.
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Old 10-07-2012, 11:53 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimnjana View Post
Hunh. I'll be darned. Looks like any length of enlisted service before 7 Sep 1980 counts for veteran's benefits.

Reading through the list, the only benefits that he doesn't already have through other sources would be funeral honors & expenses. He's not considered to have any disabilities, he has good Medicare supplemental insurance, and his pension plan includes prescription medication insurance.

He used to joke all the time about being cremated & composted. Looking through some of his letters to his lawyer, however, it turns out that he wasn't joking.

I'll do more research on his state veteran's benefits, too.
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Old 10-08-2012, 12:33 AM   #5
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Try this:
http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/c...df/133601p.pdf

It has been issued numerous times, but I believe with no changes from the original.

My service was similar, although prior to active duty, I spent 4 years in ROTC.

The 6month rule (180 days) is commonly called ACDUTRA... Active duty for training, and in essence is the dividing line between Veterans Benefits or not. (In my case, not, even though in actually counting days, the total was 182... no matter.)
After several reviews I was denied VA benefits,. It was an unusual situation. Normally, ROTC commissions require a minimum of 2 years active duty, but for a one month period in 1959, the government offered an "early out" (which still required a 10 year stint in Reserves). The reason was so many battlefield commissions after the Korean Was that the officer strength in the Army was almost 100% over the requirement. Since my bride was 7 months pregnant, and my "cut" orders were for Korea, I took the option. Today, this early out "for the convenience of the government" is almost unknown. Except for an obscure AR (Army Regulation) AR 135-173 SPN 501 ... no one seems to know much about this, including the Army lawyers JAG.

The acceptance or denial is sometimes a chancy thing... Some of my buddies who were similarly situated have received limited VA benefits... drugs and VA hospital...

The ACDUTRA classification (at least for officers) is the key. The pre 1980 rule doesn't apply.... though it sounds as if it should.

Filing is worth a try anyway... any extra days beyond the 180 should carry some weight even though in my case it didn't seem to matter.

The whole military service thing is rather strange... My only benefit after discharge as a Captain after ten years in the reserves, weekly meetings and yearly summer camp, is a $1 per month increase in my SS check. Not really complaining... the service was a good experience, though, considering that some of my classmates went up the ladder and in 20 years retired with a colonel's pay in 1979... I sometimes wonder what might have happened had I not opted out.

Good luck... your situation may be different... so don't give up yet.
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Old 10-08-2012, 02:14 PM   #6
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Although he's eligible for VA benefits, he's already covered by other sources for everything on this list:
Benefits Fact Sheets - Benefits - Veterans Benefits Administration

Colorado also does not offer anything that he lacks.

Maybe this is why the subject has never come up with him before. I guess he felt he did well enough with his Westinghouse benefits that he never saw the need to tap any veteran's benefits.
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