November 29, 2019 2 min read

If you’re not familiar with the military or its terms, you may think that a veteran and retired military veteran are the same thing. The layman's definition of a veteran means to do something for a long time; however, for the armed forces, these two things mean different things.
difference between veteran and retired military

This can be a little confusing at first, but the simple answer is: anyone who’s served any length of time in the military counts as a veteran. People who have spent twenty or more years in the armed forces or ended their service because of a physical disability count as military retirees


All people retired from the military are veterans, but not all veterans are military retirees.


Let’s talk more about the differences:


3 Differences between Veterans and Military Retirees


  1. Length of time served.To qualify as a veteran and receive any veteran discounts or free meals on military celebration days, a person only needs to enlist and come out with a discharge reason of anything other than dishonorable. To be considered a military retiree, a person needs to work for the military for at least twenty years.
  2. Medical Benefits. Simply put, medical benefits are better for retired military than they are for regular veterans. The medical coverage for retired military personnel varies by state and age, but overall, the care is better than regular veteran care.
  3. Commissary & Exchange privileges.This may not seem like much, but shopping at the base commissary or at military exchanges is a nice little perk for long-time service. At the Commissary, goods are sold at cost plus a five percent surcharge. At a military exchange, goods aren’t sold at cost, but they are tax-free.


It may seem trivial, but knowing the difference between a veteran and a military retiree is important. All veterans should be acknowledged for their service, especially those who have served twenty years or more and those permanently disabled while serving the country.

Troy Malesky
Troy Malesky

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