Millard Winfield Rice, 85, a retired head of the Washington office of the Disabled American Veterans and a longtime advocate of improved veterans benefits, died Tuesday at Northern Virginia Doctors Hospital in Arlington. He had a heart ailment.

Mr. Rice, who was born in Minnesota, served in the Marine Corps during World War I and was wounded at the battle of Belleau Wood. He earned a law degree at the University of Minnesota after the war and then began his career in veterans affairs.

He worked for the DAV in Minneapolis and later in Cincinnati, and in Kansas City, Mo. He joined the DAV staff in Washington about 1934.

From 1936 to 1941 Mr. Rice was the national legislative representative and director of public relations for the Veterans of Foreign Wars here. Among the projects on which he worked was legislation giving veterans employment preference and the codification of all laws pertaining to veterans affairs.

He returned to the DAV in 1941 as its national service director and head of its Washington office. He remained in this position until his retirement in 1970. He helped initiate the DAV's "Identotag" program. This was a fund-raising device that involved the distribution of miniature reproductions of license tags that could be attached to car keys.

From 1948 to 1960 Mr. Rice also was executive director of the DAV Service Foundation, a fund-raising organization.

Mr. Rice served on numerous other organizations concerned with veterans and the handicapped. He was a member of the Federal Advisory Council on Employment from 1936 to 1956 and a member of the executive committee of the President's Committee on Employment of the Physically Handicapped from 1947 to 1967. For five years he was chairman of its subcommittee on disabled veterans.

In 1967 he received the committee's Distinguished Service Award from President Lyndon B. Johnson.

A resident of Falls Church, Mr. Rice was a former treasurer of the Lake Barcroft Community Association and played a role in the purchase by the association of Lake Barcroft. He also was a member of Common Cause. In addition he was a member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart and the Marine Corps League.

His wife, the former Elvera E. Johnson, died in 1975.

Survivors include three sons, Robert, of Columbia, S.C., Loren, of Great Falls, Va., and six grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.