Veterans Benefits For 4 Years Of Service

For many veterans’ benefits programs offered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), 4 years of service is enough to meet most eligibility criteria. Every VA program has its specific requirements that veterans must meet. These regulations are set by Congress and are subject to change from year to year.

How a veteran was discharged from service will also play a huge role in determining benefits eligibility. Typically, if a veteran was discharged from service under any condition other than dishonorable discharge, they will be eligible to receive benefits for their time served. Veterans benefit programs from the VA include home loans, health care, disability compensation, and pension payments. For more information:

Types of Military Discharges & How They Affect Benefits

Serving in the military does not automatically qualify a veteran for benefits through the VA, no matter how many years were served. As mentioned before, each VA program has a specific list of requirements veterans must meet before being deemed eligible, and the type of military discharged received plays a significant role.

There are many types of military discharges given to veterans based on their performance during their service. The five most common types of military discharges used today are classified into either Honorable Discharge, General Discharge Under Honorable Conditions, Other Than Honorable Discharge, Bad Conduct Discharge, and Dishonorable Discharge. These terms put a label on how veterans spent their military career and can be the deciding factor if you receive aid through the VA.

Honorable Discharge

The highest and most prestigious form of military discharge is by far Honorable Discharge. To receive an Honorable Discharge, veterans must have completed their service for the entire duration agreed upon with the military. Veterans must also have a history of performing their duties to the best of their ability while going above and beyond to ensure all missions were a success. Other factors are considered when being considered for an Honorable Discharge, such as a veteran’s conduct. Veterans who receive an Honorable Discharge for their time served in the military will have access to all VA benefits programs.

General Discharge Under Honorable Conditions

The veteran’s behavior determines a General Discharge Under Honorable Conditions during service in their specific military branch. Each military branch has its reasons for issuing a General Discharge Under Honorable Conditions. While this form of discharge is not the worst discharge to receive, it may have lasting effects on the veteran during the employment process post-duty.

Veterans may have had unusual behavior for most of their service but have other misconduct issues that result in being issued a General Discharge Under Honorable Conditions. Failing to adapt to the military lifestyle is also a common reason for receiving this type of discharge. Veterans who receive a General Discharge Under Honorable Conditions or similar type of discharge will have access to all VA benefits programs for their service.

Other Than Honorable Discharge

To receive an Other Than Honorable Discharge, veterans typically have had numerous offenses in their time of duty. While being the most severe of the administrative discharges, an Other Than Honorable Discharge does not require a court-martial or additional legal action. Various factors are considered when issuing this form of discharge, including the frequency of offenses, the severity of offenses, and how the military’s veterans’ branch usually handles similar cases.

Veterans who receive this form of discharge can apply for a redetermination of discharge to be eligible for benefits through the VA. The VA will consider every detail of the veterans’ military service when determining a change in discharge records. As it stands, veterans with an Other Than Honorable Discharge may still be eligible for some VA benefits depending on specific factors. For more information, be sure to visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website.

Bad Conduct Discharge

A Bad Conduct Discharge is issued by a court-martial and may result in additional legal action. For veterans to receive a Bad Conduct Discharge, they must have acted or participated in illegal or otherwise inhumane activities. The recipient of this form of discharge will usually have to serve time in a military prison, if nothing else.

It may prove extremely difficult to receive veterans benefits through the VA without first applying for a discharge appeal. Veterans may still qualify for Veterans’ Group Life Insurance with a Bad Conduct Discharge.

Dishonorable Discharge

Deemed the worst form of discharge, Dishonorable Discharge bars veterans from enlisting in the military for future service while eliminating all VA benefits programs’ eligibility. Severe crimes performed while in military uniforms, such as murder, sexual assault, desertion, and fraud, are significant reasons veterans receive a Dishonorable Discharge.

These cases always involve a court-martial and may result in extended periods of prison time. There are currently no benefits programs through the VA that will assist veterans who receive a Dishonorable Discharge.


Many veteran’s benefits programs focus primarily on the type of military discharge issued to the veteran in question instead of cumulative time spent during service. If a veteran served all 4 years of their agreed-upon contract and received an Honorable or General Discharge, they will most likely be eligible for most VA programs.

Filing to change a discharge letter will require ample documentation and evidence to support the claim that the discharge level was incorrect. A complete list of benefits programs available to veterans can be found on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website, along with all the necessary eligibility criteria. Visit for more information.

Those who qualify for veteran’s benefits may also qualify for other assistance programs like Lifeline. Check for eligibility in one easy click.