Different states offer various benefits for veterans, but some are not widely used by veterans. The Department of Veterans Affairs asked representatives to discuss the most underused benefit in their respective states.
Veterans in Alabama have access to free services to help them apply for VA benefits with a veterans service officer, which can help them get maximum benefits the first time they file a claim, according to Mark Sullivan, a manager at the Appeals and Review division.
Alaska has a 20 percent discount on the price of state residential or recreational land, which is a valuable benefit that many veterans do not take advantage of because they save it to use for a later time, according to Verdie Bowen Sr., the director of the Office of Veterans Affairs.
Families in Arizona with a currently deployed service member or veteran can receive up to $20,000 in financial assistance if the deployment caused the family hardships. The program, the Arizona Military Family Relief Fund, can also apply for up to $3,000 in emergency assistance, according to Wanda Wright, the director of the Arizona Department of Veterans Services.
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The Resident Military Retiree Lifetime Combination License, which is a combined hunting and fishing license, is the most underused benefit for Arkansas veterans, according to Gina Chandler, the assistant director of Veterans Services.
California also has a discounted hunting and fishing license program for veterans who were honorably discharged with a service-connected disability rating of 50 percent or higher, according to Roberto Herrera, the chief of Veteran and Community Engagement.
Veterans in Colorado with a service-related disability of at least 60 percent are entitled to a free Lifetime Fish and Small Game license, according to Richard J. Tremaine, the director of the Division of Veterans Affairs.
Veterans’ organizations in Connecticut that fit specific qualifications can apply to be on the Connecticut Qualified Veterans’ Charitable Organization list, according to Thomas J. Saadi, commissioner of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Delaware offers discounted hunting, trapping and fishing licenses to veterans, including a free license to those with a VA disability rating of 60 percent or higher, according to Larence Kirby, the executive director of the Office of Veterans Services.
Veterans in Florida who received a Purple Heart or other combat-related decorations may receive waived tuition for undergraduate studies at public universities and community colleges, as well as public facilities for career-related and technical training, according to James S. “Hammer” Hartsell, the deputy executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
Veterans from Georgia who received honorable discharge and a service-related injury are eligible for entry into state parks, historical sites and recreational areas at a 25 percent discount. Honorably discharged veterans get a 20 percent discount on hunting and fishing licenses, and those who fit more specific qualifications may obtain a free one-year sportsman license, according to Mike Roby, Georgia’s commissioner of Veterans Service.
Qualifying veterans in Hawaii can choose from a number of special service-related license plates at the same cost of a normal license plate, according to Ronald Han, Director State Office of Veterans’ Services.
Veterans, service members and military family members can more easily obtain occupational licenses in Idaho after recent legislation, which includes faster processing of license applications and military training credit, according to Marv Hagedorn, the chief administrator of the Idaho Division of Veterans Services.
Veterans in Illinois can now be designated as a veteran on state driver’s licenses. Illinois also offers a veterans grant and National Guard grant for tuition at public colleges and universities, according to Linda Chapa LaVia, the director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
Veterans who fit the qualifications can apply for one of several Indiana property tax deductions, which differ based on when they served, disability rating, age and value of their home.
Children of military members who died in active duty after Sept. 11, 2001 can apply for the Brandstead-Reynolds Scholarship Program or War Orphan Tuition Assistance, according to Karl J. Lettow, public information.
Veterans and eligible dependents in Kansas can choose from different burial options at one of the state’s four veterans’ cemeteries, according to Heidi Goff, the state Veteran cemeteries manager.
The Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs offers free benefit counseling from expert representatives, which currently only assists 13 percent of the state’s veterans because many do not seek benefits, according to Donna Scrivener, the Benefits Branch manager.
Military veterans and their families who experience financial hardships and fit certain qualifications can apply for assistance from the Military Family Assistance Fund, which can offer up to $10,000 depending on the circumstance, according to Joey Strickland, the secretary of the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs.
Spouses and dependents of qualifying veterans who have a 100 percent permanent disability rating from the state are eligible for a full tuition and mandatory fee waiver at any University of Maine system school, public community college or Maine Maritime Academy, according to David Richmond, director, Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services.
Employers in Maryland who hire veterans may qualify to receive income tax credit “equal to 30 percent of up to the first $6,000 of wages paid to a qualified veteran employee during the first year of employment,” George Owings, secretary of the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs, said.
Information for Massachusetts veterans’ benefits can be found here.
The Children of Veterans Tuition Grant provides tuition assistance to qualifying students whose parent died or became completely disabled due to military service, according to Zaneta Adams, director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency.
The most underused benefits for Minnesota veterans include veterans cemeteries and licensing and certifications under the state’s GI Bill, according to Larry Herke, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs.
The Mississippi Veterans Home Purchase Board provides up to $250,000 in low-interest mortgage loans for eligible veterans or surviving unmarried spouses to purchase or build a home, according to Stacey Pickering, the executive director of Mississippi Veterans Affairs.
Missouri has the option of five veterans cemeteries throughout the state so that each veteran can have access to a veterans cemetery, according to Ryon Richmond, the acting executive director of the Missouri Veterans Commission.
Veterans in Montana have free access to state parks and disabled veterans can apply for a free hunting and fishing license, according to Kelly Ackerman, an administrator in the Montana Veterans Affairs Division.
Enlisted members of the state’s Active Selected Reserve unit may qualify for a 50 percent credit towards tuition at the University of Nebraska system, public state colleges and community colleges, according to John Hilgert, director of the Nebraska Department of Veterans Affairs.
The Nevada governor’s Office of Economic Development gives preference to veteran-owned small businesses, according to communications director Julie Dudley.
The New Division of Veteran Services assists New Hampshire veterans with VA claims, according to William Gaudreau, the director of the New Hampshire Division of Veteran Services.
Veterans with certain permanent, service-connected disabilities may be eligible for monthly payments through New Jersey Catastrophic Entitlement, according to Patricia A. Richter, the acting director in the Division of Veterans Services.
Veterans with a 50 percent or higher service disability rating may qualify for free access to New Mexico’s state parks, monuments and museums.
Access to Home for Heroes provides financial assistance and makes living spaces accessible for low and moderate income veterans who live with a disability in New York, according to Joel Evans, the executive deputy director of the New York State Division of Veterans’ Services.
Qualifying veterans living with disabilities in North Carolina may be eligible for tax relief for adaptive automobiles, according to Martin Falls, chief deputy secretary for the North Carolina Department of Military and Veteran Affairs.
The Veterans Aid Fund is a loan program specifically for veterans or their surviving spouses in North Dakota, according to commissioner Lonnie Wangen.
Tuition assistance for over 150 colleges and universities in Ohio is available for qualifying veterans who are enlisted in the National Guard with drilling status, according to Sean McCarthy, the assistant director in the Department of Veterans Services.
Information for Oklahoma veterans’ benefits can be found here.
Qualifying veterans in Oregon are eligible for home loan benefits, which can be used up to four times, with lower-than-market interest rates, according to Cody Cox, Oregon Veteran Home Loan manager.
Eligible blind veterans in Pennsylvania may be entitled to $150 per month through the state’s Blind Veterans Pension, according to Joel H. Mutschler, director of the Bureau of Veterans Programs, Initiatives, Reintegration, and Outreach.
Active duty service members and veterans may be eligible for in-state tuition at University of Rhode Island, Community College of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College immediately once they move to the state, according to Kasim Yarn, director, Rhode Island Office of Veterans Services.
Children of certain military veterans may qualify for a tuition waiver at a South Carolina state-supported college, university, technical education school, or early college credit program, according to Stanley Foreman, the director of administration for the South Carolina Department of Veterans Affairs.
State and federal education benefits are available for certain South Dakota veterans transitioning into life as a civilian, according to Greg Whitlock, secretary of the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs.
The Servicemember Opportunity Portal provides veterans in Tennessee with information about military training that can be translated into college credits and give veterans a head start, according to Mike Krause, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.
The Texas Veterans Commission helps veteran entrepreneurs with aspects of starting their own business, including assistance with financing and creating a business plan, according to Kevin Barber, commissioner of the Texas Veterans Commission.
The Accelerated Credentialing to Employment (ACE) program provides qualifying Utah veterans and actively drilling National Guard and Reserve members with training assistance to help them secure a license or certification that could lead to finding a job, according to Gary Harter, executive director of Utah’s Department of Veterans and Military Affairs.
Eligible veterans can apply through their local town clerk to obtain free daily passes to state parks, according to Robert E. Burke, the director of the Office of Veterans Affairs.
The Virginia Transition Assistance Program (VTAP) supports the individual needs of transitioning service members and their spouses, including assistance with employment opportunities or enrollment in one of the state’s GI Bill-approved institutions, according to Annie Walker, deputy commissioner for Virginia Department of Veterans Services.
The VA Olympia Call Center in Washington helps veterans understand their benefits, receive their pensions and disability compensation, and connects them with other outside services in the area, according to Liza Narciso, assistant to the director of the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs.
Veteran families who cannot afford to install a grave marker for their loved one may qualify for up to $380 from the Jack Bennett Fund to have the marker installed, according to cabinet secretary Dennis Davis.
The Assistance to Needy Veterans Grant Program provides emergency grants and payments to low-income veterans and has been used to help veterans in need of financial assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Donald Placidi Jr., the Division of Veterans Benefits administrator in the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs.
Veterans in Wyoming who were not able to complete their high school graduation requirements, entered military service during certain specified dates, and were honorably discharged as veterans of World War II, the Korean War or the Vietnam War have the opportunity to apply for an honorary high school diploma, according to Tim Sheppard, executive director of the Wyoming Veterans Commission.