Top 5 States for Veteran Benefits 

The years of your honorable service in the US military make you and your family members entitled to a number of benefits. Those benefits are meant to acknowledge your sacrifice, make the transition to civilian life more comfortable, and help you establish and maintain an adequate standard of living after discharge.

However, while the VA benefits are available for Veterans across the country, you may often hear that some states have better benefits than others. We take a look at why the VA benefits may vary significantly from one state to another and which 5 states treat their ex-military residents best.

VA Benefits Differ from State to State – Here is Why

Before talking about the 5 states with the best VA benefits, let’s see why those benefits may differ from one state to another.

US Veterans are eligible for a wide range of benefits designed to support their health, education, financial stability, and overall well-being. And while your VA disability rate makes you entitled to a certain compensation nationwide, some of the VA benefits and your overall living conditions may differ from one state to another due to certain factors:

  • State-Specific Programs and Funding
    Each state has its own annual budget, which affects the types and amounts of benefits offered to local Veterans. For example, Florida allocates more funds to Veterans’ housing assistance, while Connecticut is usually known for focusing on Veteran education and healthcare.
  • State Legislation and Policies
    State laws and policies play a significant role in the benefits that you may receive as a Veteran. Some states may have more detailed and specific legislation, which emphasizes certain VA benefits and programs. For example, Texas has the Hazelwood Act, which provides up to 150 hours of tuition exemption at public institutions of higher education for eligible Veterans and their dependents.
  • Community Support and Non-Profits Organizations
    Some states have special community support programs, local non-profit organizations and initiative groups focused on supporting local Veterans and their families.
  • Employment Opportunities
    States with wider employment opportunities can offer specific job placement programs for Veterans. There are also tax incentives such as the Illinois Veteran Tax Credit, which provides businesses a tax credit of about $5,000 for each hired Veteran.
  • Cost of Living
    The cost of living varies in different states, which will affect a Veteran’s quality of life as well. $1,000 in New York City, NY, is not the same as in Charleston, WV. At the same time, states with higher costs of living often offer additional financial support programs for Veterans and their families. That is why we strongly recommend consulting qualified professionals who will help you learn about assistance programs and get enrolled.

Now, that we’ve given you an overview of the key factors that affect Veterans’ benefits in various states, let’s see where local legislation, state-specific programs, and other circumstances let local Veterans get the most out of their VA benefits.

#1 Texas

Whenever you research the best states for Veterans to live, Texas usually comes first. The Lone Star State probably offers the most comprehensive set of specific benefits and local legislation acts aimed at Veterans and their families.

Here is a general overview of benefits for Veterans in Texas.

Housing Assistance:

  • Property Tax Exemptions
    Texas offers significant property tax exemptions to disabled Veterans and their surviving spouses. Veterans with a disability rating of 10% or higher can receive a reduction in their home’s assessed value for property tax purposes. Veterans with a 100% disability rating are completely exempt from property taxes on their primary residence.
  • Texas Veterans Land Board (VLB) Programs
    In Texas, Veterans can obtain land loans up to $150,000 at competitive interest rates with a minimum 5% down payment for purchasing land. The state also offers home loans up to $726,200 with low interest rates and little to no down payment requirements. In addition, Texas provides Veterans home improvement loans up to $50,000 for home improvements, with up to a 20-year term.
  • Veterans Homes
    Texas operates State Veterans Homes located in Amarillo, Big Spring, Bonham, El Paso, Floresville, Houston, McAllen, and Temple. These establishments provide long-term care services, including skilled nursing care.

Educational Benefits:

  • Hazlewood Act
    The Hazlewood Act provides up to 150 hours of tuition exemption at public institutions of higher education in Texas. This benefit is available for Texas Veterans, their dependent children, and, in some cases, their spouses. In addition, Veterans can transfer their unused hours under the Hazlewood Act to their children.

Employment and Entrepreneur Programs:

  • Veteran Entrepreneur Program
    This helps Veteran entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. This support program includes business plan development, mentorship, and access to resources and networking opportunities.
  • Licensing and Certification Program

This program streamlines the process of receiving occupational licenses and certifications for Veterans. While you will still need to take any examinations required for the license, you will not have to pay most of the required fees.

  • Employment Preference
    Texas Veterans receive preference for state jobs, which can significantly enhance their employment prospects. They can also receive additional points on state employment exams, giving them an edge over non-veteran candidates.


#2 Florida

Florida has exceptional benefits and conditions for US Veterans. Here is a quick breakdown:

Housing Assistance and Property Tax Benefits:

  • Homeless Veterans Assistance Program
    Florida VA branch provides support and services to help homeless Veterans find stable housing, including transitional housing and permanent supportive housing.
  • VA Home Loan Guaranty
    Florida Veterans can obtain home loans with favorable terms, including no down payment and competitive interest rates, through the federal VA program.
  • Property Tax Exemptions
    Florida Veterans with a VA-certified service-connected disability of 10% or more are eligible for a $5,000 reduction in their property’s assessed value. Totally and permanently disabled Veterans are exempt from all property taxes on their primary residence. Veterans aged 65 and older with a combat-related disability can receive a discount on their property taxes proportional to their disability rating.
  • Veterans’ Homes
    Like Texas, Florida operates several Veterans’ nursing homes and assisted living facilities offering long-term healthcare to Veterans. These homes are located in Daytona Beach, Land O’ Lakes, Pembroke Pines, Port Charlotte, Springfield, St. Augustine, and Lake City.

Education Benefits:

  • Florida State Tuition Waiver
    The Congressman C.W. Bill Young Tuition Waiver Program provides free undergraduate tuition at state universities and community colleges for Florida Veterans who received the Purple Heart or combat decorations superior in precedence.
  • Scholarships for Children and Spouses
    The Scholarships for Children and Spouses of Deceased or Disabled Veterans (CSDDV) offers financial aid for education to dependents of Veterans who died from service-related causes or are 100% permanently disabled.

Business and Employment Assistance:

  • Veterans Florida
    Veterans Florida is a non-profit organization offering career services, including job placement, training, and entrepreneurship programs tailored to Veterans.
  • Florida’s Veterans’ Preference Act
    According to F.S. §295.07 of Florida Statutes, Veterans have preference in state and local government hiring processes, including additional points on employment exams and priority in hiring decisions. You don’t have to be a Florida resident to be eligible.
  • Professional Licencing and Business Fee Waivers
    Veterans can apply for a waiver of certain fees for Veteran-owned businesses, including the initial registration fee for new businesses, as well as initial licensing fees for Veterans and their spouses.

#3 Alaska

For educational, housing, and healthcare benefits, the Last Frontier state is also well known for its benefits for Veterans.

Education Benefits:

  • Alaska Veteran Tuition Assistance
    The University of Alaska offers a tuition waiver for eligible Veterans who have exhausted their federal entitlements. This benefit also extends to the spouses and dependents of Veterans who died in the line of duty.

Housing Benefits:

  • Veterans Land Discount
    Veterans are eligible for a 25% discount on the purchase of state land. In other words, it is easier for Veterans to own property in Alaska.
  • Veterans Mortgage Program
    The Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) allows Veterans to receive lower interest rates on home loans.
  • Property Tax Exemption
    Veterans with a 50% VA rate or higher are eligible for a property tax exemption on the first $150,000 of the assessed value of their primary residence.

Recreation and Travel Benefits:

  • Alaska Marine Highway System
    This state-operated ferry system offers a reduced fare for veterans on the state-operated ferry system, making travel within the state more affordable.
  • State Park Pas
    Veterans with a service-connected disability enjoy a free camping pass to Alaska’s state parks 
  • Alaska Resident Military Licenses
    Active-duty military members and Veterans are entitled to free hunting and sport fishing licenses 
  • Travel Reimbursement
    Veterans who need to travel for medical care can be eligible for travel reimbursement through the VA, covering transportation costs to VA medical facilities nationwide

#4 Nevada

Like many other states, Nevada offers special education, housing, and recreation benefits for Veterans. Note that to be entitled to those benefits in the territory of Nevada, you don’t have to be a permanent resident of the state.

Housing Assistance and Property Tax Exemptions:

  • Nevada Veterans Home Loans
    Through the Nevada Housing Division, eligible Veterans can receive better home loan terms, with low interest rates and down payment assistance.
  • Veteran Housing Assistance Programs
    NDVS works with various organizations to provide housing support for homeless Veterans, including transitional and permanent housing solutions.
  • Veteran Tax Exemption
    Veterans who served on active duty during a recognized wartime can be eligible for a property tax exemption. The exemption can be applied to real property tax or personal property tax, such as vehicle registration fees. Disabled Veterans receive an increased property tax exemption. The exemption amount varies based on the VA rate

Employment Assistance:

  • Hiring Preference for Public Safety Positions
    In Nevada, Veterans get preference in hiring for positions in law enforcement and firefighting as well as state jobs. Veterans also receive additional points on civil service exams.

Education Programs:

  • Fee Waiver for National Guard Members
    Nevada offers a tuition waiver for members of the Nevada National Guard, covering registration fees at state-funded colleges and universities.
  • In-State Tuition Rates
    Veterans, active-duty service members, and their dependents are eligible for in-state tuition rates at Nevada state colleges and universities, regardless of their residency.

Special Recognition Programs:

  • Veterans License Plates
    Nevada offers special license plates for Veterans, including plates for specific branches of service and campaigns. The plates often come with reduced registration fees and parking privileges.
  • Veterans Memorial Cemeteries
    Nevada has two Veterans’ memorial cemeteries, in Boulder City and Fernley. They offer burial services to Veterans and their eligible family members at no cost.

#5 Illinois

Last, but definitely not least, is Illinois. In fact, Illinois offers several unique benefits for Veterans and qualifying family members that set it apart from other US states.

Education Benefits:

  • Illinois Veterans Grant (IVG)
    The IVG program provides eligible Veterans with full tuition at any state-supported college, university, or community college. To be eligible, you need to have served at least one year of active duty or served in a foreign country during a time of hostilities and must have an honorable discharge.
  • MIA/POW Scholarship
    The MIA/POW scholarship provides full tuition and fees for the dependents of Illinois residents who are declared prisoners of war, missing in action or died as a result of a service-connected disability. The program is available to children and spouses of eligible Veterans in state-supported colleges and universities in Illinois.

Employment Benefits:

  • Veteran Tax Credit:
    This tax credit for businesses that hire qualified Veterans. The credit amount is $5,000 for each veteran hired who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces after September 11, 2001, and $1,200 for other Veterans.
  • Veterans’ Preference in State Employment
    Illinois provides hiring and interview preference for Veterans applying for state jobs. Even Veterans who meet the minimum qualifications are guaranteed an interview.

Discounts and Financial Assistance:

  • Honorably Discharged Veterans Discount Card
    Issued by the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, this card allows Veterans to receive additional discounts at participating businesses throughout the state.
  • Special Homestead Exemption for Veterans with Disabilities
    A property tax exemption based on the percentage of the Veteran’s VA disability rate. Veterans with 70% or more are completely exempt from property taxes.
  • Returning Veterans’ Homestead Exemption
    It is a one-time $5,000 reduction in the equalized assessed value of the home for Veterans returning from active duty in an armed conflict.

Conclusion

We covered 5 states above, but there are, in fact, special benefits for Veterans in all 50 states! Our job is to educate Veterans and their families about their rights and benefits and help them make informed decisions regarding their VA claims.

Book your free 30-minute call with a Veteran Specialist today, and let it be your first step towards receiving all sorts of benefits and compensation you and your family members may be entitled to. 

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