My Military
OneSource App

Select Civilians and Family Members Eligible for Veterans Status

veteran with flag

Civilian groups have often been a vital part of U.S. wartime efforts. And those who served in combat roles (during past conflicts from 1915 to 1977) may qualify as having served on active duty.

Civilian or Contractual Group. An organization similarly situated to the Women’s Air Forces Service Pilots (a group of Federal civilian employees attached to the U.S. Army Air Force in World War II). Those organization members rendered service to the U.S. Armed Forces during a period of armed conflict in a capacity that was then considered civilian employment with the Armed Forces, or the result of a contract with the U.S. Government, to provide direct support to the Armed Forces.

– DOD Directive 1000.20, Section E2.1.2., Certified Current as of Nov. 21, 2003

The civilian group must go through the required application procedure. If approved, this means they could be eligible for:

Eligibility Checklist

Learn more about civilian groups applying for recognition to obtain veterans benefits and how to apply.

Department of Defense Directive 1000.20 sets policy and application procedures for people seeking benefits. It also explains the factors used to determine active-duty service.

The directive states that the person or surviving family member must show evidence that the group’s service qualifies as active duty. The DOD Civilian and Military Service Review Board determines if the group meets the requirements for the members to receive a DD Form 214. That form is proof of military service and equal to veteran status.

As part of the process, the board and its advisory panel review each application for active-duty status. Then, they advise the secretary of the Air Force.

Next, the secretary of the Air Force and secretary of defense review the application and make a decision. Finally, the board notifies the applicant of the decision.

Groups that have received veterans-status designations include the American Volunteer Group, better known as the Flying Tigers. They helped protect China from the Japanese during World War II. Other examples include Department of the Navy civilian special agents who served in direct support and under control of the Department of the Navy in Vietnam.

Review the following lists to see which other groups already qualify:

If your group is on the approved lists above, read the section marked “Recognized groups” below for information on how to apply for benefits.


The Civilian and Military Service Review Board accepts applications for civilian groups to qualify to receive veterans benefits.

The board reviews written submissions by an applicant on behalf of a civilian or contractual group. This includes written reports prepared by its advisory panel, any other relevant written information available and the factors established by DODD 1000.20 for determining active duty.

Applications must be on behalf of a group ─ not one person ─ seeking recognition that their service was equivalent to active-duty military service.

To be eligible to apply to the board, the group must:

  • Consist of living people.
  • Have served the United States in civilian employment with the armed forces. (Employment could have been through civil service or less formal hiring if war caused the service. It also could have been through a contract with the government to provide direct support to the armed forces.)
  • Have served during a drawn-out period of continuous combat involving members of the armed forces against a foreign enemy. Examples include World Wars I and II as well as the Korean and Vietnam wars.

People in the group must not have received government benefits for the service in question.

Application process

Applicants must apply to the Civilian and Military Service Review Board for recognition to obtain benefits. But before applying, they should carefully consider whether it is the best way to address their concerns.

Recognized groups

Those who are already part of a recognized group and are seeking a DD Form 214, should instead apply to their designated military branch’s personnel center.

For example, if the Air Force is the designated service, they would apply to the Air Force Personnel Center. Navy and Marines would apply to the Navy Personnel Command and Army members would apply to the U.S. Army Human Resources Command.

Previously denied groups

Those applying to the review board again, as a group the secretaries previously denied, should submit evidence that is new and relevant to their case.

The review board will return any request to the applicant that it determines does not meet these criteria. It will include the reasons for denial. An appeal is not likely as the decision is final.

To submit a group application by mail, do the following:

  • Use any document format to record proof that the group qualifies, as there is no formal application form.
  • Define the group to include the time period that it provided service to the armed forces.
  • Show the relationship the group had with the armed forces, the manner in which members of the group were employed and the services the members provided.
  • Address each of the qualifying factors listed in DODD 1000.20, Section 4.1 through 4.2.3.
  • Confirm and document the application (the burden of proof rests with the applicant).

Send completed group applications to:

Secretary of the Air Force
DOD Civilian/Military Service Review Board
Washington, DC, 20330-1000

Find additional information through the Air Force Review Boards Agency.

Learn about military bases worldwide. Get installation overviews, check-in procedures, housing, neighborhood information, contacts for programs and services, photos and more.

Find an Installation