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Combat Service

Definition Combat Service, in the context of VA benefits, refers to a period of active military duty when a service member is engaged in combat operations or hostile fire events. This also includes special risk duties, such as exposure to enemy fire, explosion risks, or other hazardous circumstances during a conflict or war. Veterans who […]


Combat Service, in the context of VA benefits, refers to a period of active military duty when a service member is engaged in combat operations or hostile fire events. This also includes special risk duties, such as exposure to enemy fire, explosion risks, or other hazardous circumstances during a conflict or war. Veterans who have experienced combat service may be eligible for certain benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in recognition of their sacrifices and the unique challenges they faced while serving.

Key Takeaways

  1. Combat Service refers to the active participation of a veteran in a military operation or engagement, in which they encountered hostile or aggressive actions by an enemy or were in imminent danger of such actions.
  2. Eligibility for combat-service-related VA benefits often depends on duration and location of service, receipt of certain military citations and medals, or being a former prisoner of war. This can grant access to special healthcare, pension, and disability benefits.
  3. Combat Service may grant eligibility to veterans for Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) and Concurrent Retirement and Disability Payments (CRDP), programs that provide financial compensation for military retirees with disabilities directly related to combat.


The VA benefits term “Combat Service” is important because it plays a crucial role in determining the eligibility criteria and the benefits U.S.

veterans receive for their dedicated service to the nation.

Combat service often exposes brave servicemen and women to extreme conditions and circumstances, posing severe long-term effects on their physical and mental health.

By recognizing combat service, the Department of Veterans Affairs ensures that veterans receive appropriate compensation, medical care, and assistance to navigate civilian life after their service.

Furthermore, it aids in determining the priority level for access to various programs, acknowledges their unique experiences and sacrifices, and guarantees proper support and resources for them and their families to lead a better life.


Combat Service is a crucial term within the realm of VA benefits, as it serves the purpose of recognizing the unique challenges, sacrifices, and risks faced by veterans who have been actively engaged in military combat operations. This distinction is essential in determining the eligibility of service members for specific benefits, programs, and services designed to address the particular needs of combat veterans.

Given the inevitable physical, mental, and emotional trauma that can result from active combat involvement, the categorization of Combat Service helps ensure that these veterans receive targeted support and priority assistance in catering to their specific needs and challenges post-military life. The term Combat Service is employed in determining eligibility for numerous resources and benefits ranging from combat-related special compensation (CRSC), combat-related injury rehabilitation pay (CIP), and special tax exemptions, among others.

Moreover, these combat-specific benefits aim to alleviate the additional burdens experienced by combat veterans and their families when reintegrating into civilian life. Examples include preferential access to healthcare services for service-connected injuries and psychological support tailored to address the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other combat-related mental health issues.

Ultimately, the term Combat Service is instrumental in guiding equitable allocation of resources to veterans who endured intense and life-altering experiences on the battlefield, ensuring they receive the necessary support system to transition back into their lives as civilians.

Examples of Combat Service

The term “combat service” relates to the periods of active military service during which an individual was involved in combat or engaged in hazardous activities. Here are three real-world examples of combat service relevant to VA Benefits:

Iraq War (Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation New Dawn): Veterans who served in the Iraq War from March 2003 to December 2011 were actively participating in combat service. Those who were either engaged in direct combat operations or supporting the combat troops were exposed to hazardous situations like firefights, IED explosions, and ambushes. These individuals may be eligible for specific VA benefits like the Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC).

Vietnam War: Veterans who served in Vietnam from 1964 to 1975 were a part of combat service, facing guerrilla warfare, landmines, and hostile environments. Specifically, those who served in-country and had “boots on the ground” in Vietnam are eligible for a presumption of exposure to Agent Orange, which may qualify them for VA benefits for any Agent Orange-related illnesses.

Afghanistan War (Operation Enduring Freedom): The conflict in Afghanistan, beginning in 2001, involved U.S. military members engaging in combat operations against the Taliban and other terrorist groups. Service members who participated in this conflict faced hazardous duty zones and hostile environments, which may make them eligible for specific combat-related VA benefits such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill or the Traumatic Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (TSGLI).

FAQs for Combat Service VA Benefits

What are VA benefits for combat service members?

VA benefits for combat service members are benefits provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs to service members who served in a combat zone during their time in the military. These benefits may include disability compensation, educational assistance, healthcare, and more.

How do I qualify for combat service VA benefits?

To qualify for combat service VA benefits, you must have served in the U.S. Armed Forces and have participated in active duty in a combat zone during your service. You may also need to provide proof of your combat service, such as your DD-214 or other military service records.

How can I apply for combat service VA benefits?

You can apply for combat service VA benefits by visiting the VA website or contacting your local VA office. You may need to create an account and complete the necessary forms, as well as provide your military service records and any supporting documentation.

What types of VA benefits can I receive for combat service?

Some of the VA benefits you may be eligible for as a combat service member include healthcare services, disability compensations, education and training assistance, vocational rehabilitation services, and mental health support services.

Can my family access VA benefits if I served in combat?

Depending on the specific benefits and your eligibility, some VA benefits may be extended to your spouse, dependent children, and/or surviving family members. These benefits may include educational assistance, healthcare, and survivor pensions.

Related VA Benefit Terms

  • Service-Connected Disability Compensation
  • Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Treatment
  • VA Pension for Veterans with Combat Service
  • Traumatic Injury Insurance for Service Members (TSGLI)

Sources for More Information

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