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AGO 1956 No. 224 - March 16, 1956
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

STATE VETERANS' BONUS ‑- FEDERAL SERVICE IN THE ARMED FORCES ‑- KOREAN WAR.

Persons otherwise qualified under the state veterans' bonus act who were on full-time active duty for which they received federal compensation for the requisite number of days during the period specified by the statute are eligible for a veteran's bonus.   This would include those in the army, navy, marine corps, coast guard and their respective reserve components as set forth by federal law.

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                                                                  March 16, 1956

 Honorable John K. Yearout
State Representative
Twenty-first District
600 West Third Street
Aberdeen, Washington                                                                 Cite as:  AGO 55-57 No. 224

 Dear Sir:

             You have requested the formal opinion of this office as follows:

             "Define the meaning of 'Federal Service' in respect to the Korean Veterans' Bonus Law, Chapter 292, Session Laws of 1955."

             Our definition is developed in the following analysis.

                                                                      ANALYSIS

             Section 2, chapter 292, Laws of 1955, provides in part as follows:

             "There shall be paid to each person who was on active federal service as a member of the armed military or  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]naval forces of the United States between the 27th day of June, 1950, and the 26th day of July, 1953, and who for a period of one year immediately prior to the date of his entry into such active service, was a bona fide citizen or resident of the state of Washington, for service between said dates, the sum of one hundred dollars for service in excess of eighty-nine days within the continental United States, the sum of one hundred fifty dollars for service in excess of eighty-nine days and less than three hundred sixty-five days where any part of such service was outside the continental limits of the United States, or the sum of two hundred dollars for service in excess of three hundred sixty-four days where any part of such service was outside the continental limits of the United States:  Provided, however, That persons otherwise eligible who have been continuously in said armed services for a period of five years or more immediately prior to June 27, 1950, shall not be eligible to receive compensation under the terms of this act:  Provided, further, That persons who have already received extra compensation or other benefits based upon claimed residence at the time of entry into such active service from any other state or territory shall not be entitled to compensation under this act."  (Emphasis supplied)

             The key to your inquiry is to ascertain the intention of the legislature in using the language employed in the underscored matter above quoted.  We note that the language is identical to that contained in chapter 180, Laws of 1949, for the veterans of World War II.

             Two decisions from the supreme court of Iowa are illustrative of the general rule that service compensation statutes should be liberally construed in favor of those entitled to the benefits.  Borden v. World War II Service Compensation Board, 54 N.W. (2d) 496; andEastman v. World War II Service Compensation Board, 60 N.W. (2d) 856.

             In deciding who is entitled to a soldiers' bonus the courts are only concerned with ascertaining the intention of the legislature.  Federal statutes and administrative determinations may be persuasive with the courts.  See 40 Am.Jur. 970, Pensions, § 11, and 35 A.L.R. 792.

              [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            Title 38, U.S.C.A. relates to pensions, bonuses and veterans' relief.  38 U.S.C.A. 691f (a) provides as follows:

             "The term 'member of the armed forces' means any member of the Army or Navy of the United States, the United States Marine Corps, the United States Coast Guard, or any of their respective components, and any member of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps who was discharged under honorable conditions on account of disability."

            38 U.S.C.A. § 851, as amended August 24, 1954, makes provision for automatic, free G. I. insurance.  This section provides in part:

             "Except as hereinafter provided, on and after June 27, 1950, any person in the active service of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard or the Reserve components thereof, including the National Guard when called or ordered to active duty or active training duty for fourteen days or more; members of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps, and the Air Force Reserve Officers' Training Corps, when called or ordered to active duty or active training duty for fourteen days or more while on such active training duty; cadets and midshipmen at the United States Military, Naval and Coast Guard Academies; commissioned officers of the Public Health Service while entitled to full military benefits as provided in section 213 of Title 42; and commissioned officers of the Coast and Geodetic Survey while assigned to duty during a period of war or emergency as proclaimed by the President or the Congress on projects for the Army, Navy or Air Force in areas outside the continental United States or in Alaska or in coastal areas of the United States determined by the Department of Defense to be of immediate military hazard, shall be automatically insured by the United States, without cost to such persons, against death in such service in the principal amount of $10,000. . . ."  (Emphasis supplied.)

             In Bandy v. Mickelson, S.D. 44 N.W. (2d) 341, 22 A.L.R. (2d) 1129, the court observed that under Federal statutes a West Point cadet serves in the armed forces of the United States.  It was held that in the absence of other criteria, in a state bonus law the decision of the state veterans' bonus board in refusing  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] to credit time served by a cadet at West Point as "service in the armed forces" may be corrected by the issuance of a writ of mandamus.

             The legislature in chapter 292 has made a distinction between the benefits available for overseas service in the armed forces within the continental United States.

             We believe that persons otherwise qualified under the statute who were on full-time active duty for which they received Federal compensation for the requisite number of days during the period specified by the statute are eligible for a veterans' bonus.  This would include those in the army, navy, marine corps, coast guard and their respective reserve components as set forth in the Federal act.

             We recognize that it is not feasible to supply a definition sufficiently comprehensive to cover every individual case.  We hope the foregoing comments will be helpful in passing upon eligibility of applicants for the veterans' bonus.

 Very truly yours,
DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General 

ANDY G. ENGEBRETSEN
Assistant Attorney General

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