Advance Directives and Active Duty Military & Veterans

The Department of Veterans Affairs created a suggested Advance Directive form that aims to meet the requirements of every state in the country.

If you complete a state-based form instead of the suggested form, Veterans Affairs health care staff must make every effort to recognize the form as valid and follow it.

The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Veterans Health Administration require that:

  • Health care providers talk with patients about advance care planning,
  • Health care providers help patients complete ADs, and
  • Facility directors take specific steps to make sure these things are done.

The Veterans Health Administration also provides help on its My HealtheVet website.  Advance care planning exercises are in the “Your Life, Your Choices” section.

Active duty military members and their families may move during their service.  Because different states have different rules for advance directives this could present problems.  But Congress passed a law that makes clear states must honor ADs of active duty military members.

The Department of Defense (DOD) defines an AD as a written document that has a health care power of attorney and/or a living will.  (Notice that it does not mention health care other than life-prolonging treatment nor picking an agent to make mental health care decisions.)  The DOD has not created a recommended form for military members and their families to use.

The DOD expects that legal counsel, not health care providers, will help people to complete ADs.  If you are a military member or family member of a military member, please talk to your legal counsel for further information.


Current members of the armed forces and veterans can plan ahead for their care like anyone else.  There are some specific things to know about, though.

Active Duty Military