A recent ruling by the Defense Department has granted veteran status to a group of civilians who served in Vietnam.
Specifically, the group consists of "Department of the Navy civilian special agents who served in direct support and under control of the Department of the Navy within the Republic of Vietnam between Jan. 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975."
The ruling determines that this group will be "considered as having served on active duty for the purposes of all laws administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs."
That means that they and their family members may be eligible for health, disability and burial benefits, just like military members who served during that time period. They won't, however, be eligible for any retroactive benefits. They may also be eligible for state veteran benefits.
If the veteran is deceased, a surviving family member may still file the application for veteran status.
To receive benefits, these veterans must first get a DD-214 to use when applying to state or federal agencies. To get a DD-214, an affected person must submit a DD-2168, Application for Discharge of Member or Survivor of Member of Group Certified to Have Performed Active Duty with the Armed Forces of the United States.
The form must be submitted to the Navy Personnel Command in Millington, Tennessee, with all supporting documentation.
The burden of proof is on the individual. However, suggested supporting documentation includes:
- Employment records from the Navy Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) or Naval Investigative Service (NIS).
- Copies of passports with appropriate entries.
- Military or civilian orders posting the applicant to an assignment in the Republic of Vietnam.
- Reports signed by or mentioning the applicant's work as part of ONI/NIS in the Republic of Vietnam.
- Letters of award or commendation.
- Expense reports.
- Military identification forms.
- Medical paperwork.
- Military passes/chits/liberty cards.
- Anything else, including postmarked envelopes, etc.
Remember, never submit the original documentation; always send copies and keep the originals for your own files.
If the Navy determines that a DD-214 should be issued, it will also forward the information to the awards and decorations office to determine whether any ribbons should be awarded, so include as much documentation as possible.
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