Difference Between Veteran and Retired Soldier

The Veteran is a broad term that can be applied to anyone who’s served in the military – even during peacetime or if they were never deployed.


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Retired refers to someone who has stopped working after more than 20 years of service in the military. The difference between Veteran and Retired is that not all Veterans are retired. 

Veteran vs Retired Soldier

Veterans are people who have served in the military and been honourably discharged. There are support networks to help them transition into civilian life. Retired soldiers are those who have completed a certain number of years of service and are eligible to receive retirement benefits.

Veteran vs Retired Soldier

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A “veteran” is a person who served in the active military or air force and was released under conditions other than dishonourable discharge or release.

Veterans are further divided into groups based on how long they served in the military. Veterans served on active duty for more than 180 days and were discharged under conditions other than dishonourable. 

The term retired soldier can also refer to a military veteran who has not seen combat but has served in the armed forces.

The term is typically used to describe a member of the armed forces whose service was in times of war, as distinguished from the retired officer or retired enlisted person, which refers to those whose service was not during wartime or whose service was not in combat-risk areas during peacetime.

Comparison Table

Parameters of comparisonVeteranRetired Soldier
Time served A person has to enrol and come out with a discharge cause other than dishonourable to qualify as a veteran.A person must have served in the military for at least twenty years to be labelled a retiree.
Health care benefitsOrdinary Veterans receives less medical benefits than Retired military personnel.Medical coverage for retired military members varies by state and age, although it is more beneficial than veterans.
Commissary & Exchange privileges.Products are sold at cost with a 5% extra at the Commissary.Goods are free of tax for retired military at the commissary.
CharacteristicsVeterans include anyone who has served in the military and has since retired.Military retirees are not all veterans.
Definition The term “veteran” refers to someone who has served in the military.A retiree is a person who has been discharged from military duty due to medical or personal reasons.

What is Veteran?

A veteran must have been on active duty for at least 90 days and been dismissed or removed from active duty due to a service-connected disability or be a Purple Heart recipient.

If a veteran was discharged or relieved from active duty for any reason other than dishonourable, they are classified as a “wartime veteran.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) sets forth regulations for determining eligibility for veterans’ benefits, entitlement to service-connected disability compensation, and qualifying status for burial in a national cemetery.

VA’s criteria for determining whether a person is a veteran are generally more liberal than those used by the military services when deciding whether a person is entitled to retire military pay.

All veterans can receive Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits, including the GI Bill, home loans, healthcare, disability compensation, and pensions.

However, the type and amount of benefits each Veteran receives depends on their length of service, the character of discharge or release, kind of disability received (if applicable), income level, and several other factors.

Veterans Day is a federal holiday that honours veterans of the military. It’s not to be confused with Memorial Day, which commemorates military personnel who have died in the line of duty.

This year celebrates the 100th anniversary of the armistice signing that halted hostilities between the Allies and Germany during World War I in 1918.

In 1926, Congress approved a resolution calling for annual commemoration, and November 11 became a national holiday in 1938.

What is Retired Soldier?

A retired soldier is a military veteran who has participated in direct combat during a conflict. A retired soldier can be an enlisted person or an officer.

A retired soldier must have the rank of E-7 or higher to be eligible for retirement pay. The retirement pay is based on years of service and the average basic income for the highest 36 months of active service.

Veterans soldiers who have served 20 years or more are considered eligible for military retirement benefits. They receive their retirement pay each month for the rest of their life.

To receive full benefits when they reach 62, they must retire from active duty by age 60. Retired soldiers who have served less than 20 years are called non-regular retirees.

Their benefits are computed using a different formula than those with 20 years or more of active service. They may not receive full benefits until they reach 65 years old. Non-regular retirees may also receive reduced medical care benefits.

Main Differences Between Veteran and Retired Soldier

  1. To be classified as a veteran, one must enlist and leave with a discharge reason other than dishonourable; however, one must have served in the military for at least twenty years to be classified as a retiree.
  2. Veterans have served in the military and have subsequently retired, although military retirees are not veterans.
  3. At the commissary, products are sold at cost plus a 5% surcharge to veterans, while goods are tax-free for retired military.
  4. Medical benefits for veterans are less as compare to retired military.
  5. A veteran is someone who has been discharged from military service, but a retiree is someone who has served in the military for at least twenty years but has departed for personal or medical reasons.
Difference Between Veteran and Retired Soldier
  1. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0095327X7600200306
  2. https://academic.oup.com/qje/article-abstract/110/2/297/1826329
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