Generally speaking, only military veterans qualify for VA benefits. The question, then, is whether former ROTC cadets are considered veterans.

Veteran: Definition

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, to be considered a military veteran you must have served on active duty for a certain amount of time, depending on your date of enlistment and other factors. You also must have received a discharge other than dishonorable.

Active Duty

The U.S. Code defines "active duty" as full-time service, "other than active duty for training." While cadets at the military academies are considered to be on active duty, ROTC cadets are on active duty for training. Therefore, they are not in full-time service.

Exception 1: If You Were Discharged Due to Injury

ROTC cadets are considered civilian employees of the federal government and are covered by federal Workers Compensation laws and provisions.

Exception 2: The Simultaneous Membership Program

Cadets in the Simultaneous Membership Program are co-enrolled in the National Guard while completing their college education. Although they are not deployable and not on active duty, their time does count toward retirement and they are credited with time in service.


Because of the many options, conditions and exceptions involved in dealing with government regulations, it is always best to contact your local Department of Veterans Affairs to discuss your specific circumstances.