While we originally developed this content for veterans as a consumer-facing article, and will share it as such, it’s also extremely valuable information for you to use as a training tool or resource for your staff who work closely with veterans in your community.
If you have served in the military, you may be entitled to receive benefits because of your status as a Veteran. In the United States, veterans’ benefits honor those brave men and women who served our country by providing them with various discounted or free services designed to help them save money. Those seemingly small discounts can often add up to significant savings over time.
Our nation’s VA hospitals and clinics are here to serve the healthcare needs of our veterans. Disabled vets get “head-of-line” privileges when they go in for treatment.
- Certain medical supplies such as walkers and canes are covered at 100%.
- If the disabled vet is wheelchair-bound, they are eligible for assistance with home and vehicle modifications.
- Stipends for home health care are available if needed.
- Veterans classified as 100% disabled are eligible for free dental care at VA clinics.
The Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) is a comprehensive health care program for spouses and dependents under 18 of vets who are 100% disabled. CHAMPVA coverage is available at 100% after just an annual, one-time $35 copay. The program is administered by the Veterans Health Administration Office of Community Care (VHA OCC) in Denver, Colorado.
This benefit is also available for the surviving spouse or child of a Veteran who died from a VA-rated service-connected disability, the surviving spouse or child of a Veteran who was at the time death rated permanently and disabled from a service-connected disability, the surviving spouse or child of a military member who died in the line of duty, not due to misconduct (in most of these cases, these family members are eligible for TRICARE, not CHAMPVA).
Many mortgage lenders offer VA loans to veterans. However, each state is different on the maximum loan amount available. With lower APRs and no down payment, the VA loan is a popular choice for veterans when purchasing a home. Vets who are 100% disabled are exempt from the VA funding fee, which is 2% of the loan amount. In Texas, the Veteran’s Land Board offers loan programs and benefits advice through a statewide Veterans call center – exclusively for Texas vets. The VLB also offers land sales, skilled nursing homes, four state cemeteries, and the Voices of Veterans program, an oral history program that records the stories of men and women who served our nation to preserve their memories for future generations. Other states offer similar benefits to the Texas Veterans Land Board.
The GI bill has been around since 1944, helping qualifying veterans and their family members cover some of all of the costs of college or training. However, many states have unique educational benefits for veterans as well. For example, in Texas, the Hazlewood Exemption Act is a benefit that provides qualified veterans, spouses, and dependent children (including stepchildren) with an education benefit of up to 150 hours of tuition exemption and required fee charges at Texas public institutions of higher education. California has a College Fee Waiver for Veteran Dependents that can be used at any state of California community college, California State University, or University of California campus. You can find information about your state’s educational benefits by Googling “Educational Benefits for Veterans (or Disabled Veterans)” in your state or visit the US Department of Veterans Affairs website. One of the biggest education benefits available to veterans with 100% disability is the forgiveness of all outstanding federal student loans. However, forgiveness has to be requested as it is not automatic, nor is it a retroactive benefit.
Disabled veterans can also save big on property taxes in most states. Again, veterans with a disability rating of 100% are exempt from all property taxes in states like Texas and California. Texas also has tiered property tax savings for vets rated less than 100%. Vets with ratings of less than 100% can still see significant savings on their property tax bills. Other states like Nevada offer tiered discounts on property taxes based on assessed value. Of course, you’ll want to check with your local tax authority for details and instructions on how to apply for the discount.
Veterans in some states such as Texas who are disabled or are recipients of the Purple Heart, Legion of Valor, and Medal of Honor awards can be exempted from toll on several of the state’s tollways once they register with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles and are issued a qualifying specialty plate and have it correctly displayed. The vehicle must also be associated with an electronic toll tag account. In addition, qualifying veterans pay only $3 for their Disabled Veteran or Purple Hear License plate and pay $0 for a Legion of Valor plate. Check with your state’s Veteran’s Commission for details.
You’ll be happy to hear that disabled veterans are exempt from parking fees at most major airports if you enjoy traveling. We all know that airport parking is complicated enough for non-disabled drivers. Disabled parking at airports takes the difficulty up yet another notch. Many of the nation’s major airports offer discounted or even free parking while you’re away. A week of on-site airport parking can add over $100 to your vacation expenses, so it’s always a good idea to check your airport’s website before you travel to see if discounted or free disabled parking is offered.
All US Military Veterans and Gold Star Families can receive free entrance to America’s National Parks. Gold Star Families and US military veterans are eligible to receive free lifetime access to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas, including national parks, wildlife refuges, and forests. Free access is for the veteran or the holder of the Military Pass-Gold Star Family voucher as well as traveling companions who are occupants of a single, private non-commercial vehicle OR the veteran or voucher-holder and three persons (16 and older) where per-person fees are charged.
Many restaurants offer discounts on food and drink to veterans, but you usually have to ask. Doing so may save you anywhere from 5% to 50% on your tab, so be sure to ask!
For citizens serving in the National Guard, there are many, many benefits available to you as well, so be sure to check the organizations listed below for more information on how to access them.
Organizations Dedicated To Serving Veterans
There are many organizations whose mission is to serve veterans, whether disabled or not. The services offered may vary from state to state, but these organizations’ missions help veterans access all the benefits to which they are entitled. All you have to do is ask! Here are just a few to get you started: