Texas, much the same way other states do, provides specific benefits for military veterans. These benefits include financial assistance and guidance with housing, education, employment, finances, recreation, health, and more.
If you or a loved one is a veteran living in Texas and you’d like to know more about the benefits available, where should you begin?
Financial Assistance for Veterans
Texas offers two programs specifically geared to helping veterans with their finances.
The first, General Assistance Grants, provide money to veterans and their families who need assistance with:
- Services for children and families
- Emergency assistance on a limited basis
- Legal services (including criminal defense)
- Training and education
- Job placement
It should be noted these are grant programs and not loans, so the money given does not need to be paid back. Grants are available on a first-come-first-serve basis.
The second program, Tax Exemption for Veterans, is a law that allows for partial exemption from tax obligations for veterans with a service-connected disability, as well as surviving spouses and children of deceased disabled veterans. A partial exemption is also available for residence homesteads donated to charitable organizations that aid disabled vets.
Housing Benefit for Veterans
Finding a home can be a struggle for anyone, but it can be especially challenging when a person has never purchased a home before or has spent their entire life living on base. Texas provides housing assistance for veterans. These programs can not only assist in finding a veteran a home, they can provide financial assistance through veteran’s loan programs.
Three of the loan programs available in Texas include:
- The Land Loan Program
- Veterans Housing Assistance Purchase Program
- Veterans Home Improvement Loan Program
These programs offer home loans to veterans at a low-interest rate who are Texas residence and received an honorable discharge after 90 days or more of service.
There are also eight veterans’ homes in Texas that provide affordable housing, located in:
- Big Spring
- El Paso
These homes welcome veterans who were honorably discharged and/or have a service-connected disability, as well as their spouses. There is also assistance available for Gold Star parents who meet requirements related to their age and Texas citizenship.
For more information about veterans’ homes in Texas, visit the Veterans Land Board.
Education Benefits for Veterans
Veterans receive educational benefits under the Hazlewood Act, a Texas law that applies to qualified vets, their spouses, and their dependent children.
The benefit includes up to 150 hours of tuition exemption that includes fees charged by public higher learning institutions in the state. It does not include books, supplies, or living expenses.
To receive education benefits under the Hazlewood Act, a veteran must:
- Be a Texas resident or designate Texas as their home state when entering the military
- Have been discharged under honorable conditions
- Serve 181 days or more active duty
- Be receiving no federal education benefits for vets
- Not have defaulted on a student loan made or guaranteed in Texas
- Enroll in the appropriate classes
- Meet GPA and requirements of the school
Texas education benefits include a Legacy Act provision that allows a veteran to pass along exemption to a biological or adopted child under the age of 25 based on certain conditions. Likewise, spouses and children of eligible service members who were killed during active military service or because of an injury or illness directly related to time served, or who are MIA or are totally disabled as a result of military service are entitled to 150 credit hours.
There are also additional benefits provided by the State of Texas for children of service members who are MIA/POWs.
Employment Benefits for Veterans in Texas
Texas offers a variety of employment benefits for veterans, including:
Preference for wartime veterans in employment in state agencies. Surviving spouses and children of veterans killed during active duty are also given preference. Agencies are required to offer preference to veterans until they reach 40 percent veteran employment.
Those who are active in the military can claim active duty time toward requirement with the right credentials up to 60 months.
Veterans are also entitled to re-employment rights with their last employer after release from the military, as long as the absence from the job was less than four years. Re-employment guarantees a person’s job will be available to them if they choose to enroll in the military. This right is protected under Texas and federal law.
Recreation Benefits for Texas Veterans
The State of Texas offers several benefits that are related to recreation. For instance:
Disabled veterans can get their fishing and hunting license free of charge, as long as their disability is 50 percent or more and related to military service. Fishing and hunting licenses are also available for active duty Texans at no cost. Active military members who are not Texas residents can buy a hunting and fishing license under the guidelines that apply to a resident of the state.
Additionally, the Texas State Park system offers free admission to any veteran with a 60 percent or more disability related to their service. Veterans who wish to take advantage of this program must apply for a state park pass and must apply in advance for admission under this program.
Disabled veterans in Texas can receive a state drivers’ license free of charge. To qualify, a veteran must be at least 60 percent disabled by an injury connected to their military service and honorably discharged.
Texas is home to four veterans’ cemeteries that are located throughout the state in Mission, Killeen, Abilene, and Corpus Christi. To be buried in a veterans’ cemetery free of charge, a person must be a veteran of the Armed Forces, an eligible spouse or dependent child. More information about veterans’ burial benefits can be found via the Veterans Land Board website.
This is a sampling of benefits and programs available to vets in Texas. Additional information regarding benefits available for Texas veterans is available at the Texas Veterans Commission.