The paper theorizes about the type of welfare state that emerged in Croatia post-1990, focusing specifically on ways in which the evolution of welfare programmes for veterans, and the gradual strengthening of veteran organizations as pivotal political actors, impacted its morphology. Croatia currently has a population of around 500,000 registered veterans, which in the mid-1990 started organizing into powerful organizations. Partly in response to this mobilization, from 1994 onwards HDZ governments created a comprehensive institutional architecture of entitlements for veterans, instituting durable material linkages alongside symbolic ties to this population. The prominence of veterans as a pivotal political actor has impacted the development of the welfare regime in Croatia. Strong reliance on the family for a broad range of care work is the central feature Croatia shares with other conservative welfare regimes, while the clientelist character of state-society relations relates it specifically to their Southern variant. Distinctly, the "compensatory" character of welfare programmes, which is characteristic of veteran programmes, and of family policy in Croatia generally, creates contradictory impulses. What seems to have emerged is a specific clientelist variant of a conservative welfare regime, sustained by veteran mobilizations, while at the same time eroded by the dependency, resentment and a myriad of other social impacts of these programmes. Future research on the welfare state in Croatia will hopefully further explore the arguments that this paper brings forward.