New York State Division of Veterans' Services

Veteran Status for Reserve, National Guard, and Militia

Approximately 40% of the United States Armed Forces serve in the Reserve and National Guard, and New York is home to thousands of Reserve forces, National Guard, and New York State militia members, and thousands more who have served in and retired from these organizations. Reserve, National Guard, and Militia serve important roles in the defense of our nation and state, and many of these individuals also serve their communities in their civilian capacities as well.

For the purposes of veterans’ benefits, reserve forces generally qualify based on the time periods they were mobilized or activated under federal status. As of 2016, the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs has granted official veteran status to retirees (20 or more qualifying years) of the National Guard and Reserve even if they were never called to federal status. Some qualifying conditions for benefits and services may also be met during training periods. As an agency, we welcome all individuals who have served in the Reserve, Guard, and Militia forces to connect with our staff to learn about services and benefits they and their families may be eligible for.

Legal Protections for Reserve, Guard, and Militia Service

Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) is a federal statute established in 1994 that protects servicemembers’ and veterans’ civilian employment rights. Among other things, under certain conditions, USERRA requires employers to put individuals back to work in their civilian jobs after military service. USERRA also protects servicemembers from discrimination in the workplace based on their military service or affiliation.

Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) is a federal law that provides protections for military members as they enter active duty. It covers issues such as rental agreements, security deposits, prepaid rent, evictions, installment contracts, credit card interest rates, mortgage interest rates, mortgage foreclosures, civil judicial proceedings, automobile leases, life insurance, health insurance and income tax payments.

New York State Law provides robust employment and reemployment protections for Reserve, National Guard, and Militia members who are employees of state and municipal agencies. State law also prohibits discrimination in employment, property rights, and public accommodations for those serving in the Reserve, National Guard, and Militia. New York City and other localities also offer civil protections for military and veteran status.

Duty Status

Traditional service in the Reserve or National Guard includes initial entry training, one weekend drill or assembly per month, and two weeks of annual training per year; this traditional service generally is not considered as active duty for the purposes of veterans’ benefits and services, with the exception of specific injuries or conditions resulting from periods of training. 

Reserve and National Guard forces may be mobilized or activated for federal duty under Title 10 or Title 32 of the United States Code, which offers entitlements based on the type of service and duration of duty orders. For the purposes of veterans’ benefits and services, Reserve and National Guard members are recognized as having served on active duty if they have a period of at least 180 days on federal orders outside of training.

State Active Duty (SAD) is a status used to mobilize National Guard and Militia forces for periods of full-time service in response to state emergencies. Members are paid as New York State employees with pay and benefits specific to state law. This duty status is not creditable toward eligibility for federal veterans’ benefits or services, or for eligibility status of state veterans’ benefits requiring federal active service.

Reserve and National Guard members may also serve in various other duty status capacities, such as on full-time duty Active Guard and Reserve (AGR), Active Duty Support (ADS) or Active Duty Special Work (ADSW), or as a dual-service Technician (Title 5 USC).

Our Veterans Benefits Advisors, all Veterans themselves, will gladly assist you with learning about and accessing any benefits you earned in service. This service is provided for free and is completely confidential.

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Schedule an Appointment with a Veterans Benefits Advisor

1-888-VETS-NYS

(1-888-838-7697)

Contact a Veterans Benefits Advisor

Find a Veterans Benefits Advisor Near You!

or