[dropcap]F[/dropcap]rom educational opportunities to low-cost or even free health-care, there are many federally funded services available to US veterans. What you might not know about are all the state-specific programs set up to help those who have served. There are a few common programs (veteran homes, tax exemptions, discounts on recreational licenses, etc). That being said, your available benefits will change, based on the state and even town in which you live. It's always a good idea to make sure you [highlight color="green"] check with your local state and VA offices.[/highlight] In this article, we’ll be looking at the top five states when it comes to coverage for veterans.
#5 South Carolina
Breezing its way into our number five spot is South Carolina. This peach producing state shines through for veterans with its hefty tax exemptions. Retired service members who have been honorably discharged who are disabled veteran due to a service-connected disability and their spouses could qualify to have their property taxes waived completely. Retirement pay of said individuals, as well as pay for those in the reserves, is considered non-taxable. Children of veterans, as well as any other surviving dependents of those killed during active duty, may be able to attend a four year, state-funded college for free. Add on pro bono hunting and fishing licenses for disabled veterans, as well as free admission to state parks and the Palmetto state is looking good.
Beyond the amazing views of Yellowstone which is free to all veterans who are at least 50% disabled, Wyoming has a lot to offer at our number four spot. The biggest benefit would have to be a whopping $3000 exemption off property taxes to qualified veterans. Unremarried, surviving partners of said individuals may also qualify for this huge break. Wyoming veterans and their spouses receive up to ten extra points on any government position application. From game bird licenses to free deer and elk permits, they could qualify for access to free and low-cost hunting and fishing licenses. Veterans and their spouses could even be eligible for free burial together, but if recreation is the name of your game, then Wyoming is the place to be.
#3 New Hampshire
The Granite state comes in at a respectable number three on our top five state picks. This New England staple issues $100 bonuses to eligible veterans. Tax exemptions can be anywhere from $50 to $500 off property taxes for honorable discharged veterans. Surviving spouses of those killed in active duty could receive up to $2000 in discounts. Veterans considered 100% disabled could also receive up to $2000 towards real estate taxes. Any veteran who has served wartime and is incapable of supporting themselves or their dependents can get state assistance at no cost to them. Some may qualify for preferential consideration for government positions or free job training. The biggest thing that makes New Hampshire so special is the fact that children of those missing or killed in action could qualify for free tuition. This perk counts for state-run vocational and four-year programs. Any veteran who was honorably discharged and is considered permanently and 100% disabled are welcome to a complimentary lifetime fishing and hunting license. Certain individuals also qualify for free admission to state parks. If you like the outdoors or you’re looking for further education, you may want to give New Hampshire a try.
Parking itself at our number two spot is the scenic state of Montana. This national treasure boasts two major nursing homes aimed at providing living arrangements for disabled veterans and their spouses. Those who don't qualify for a nursing home, but are paid 100% disability by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs are exempt from property taxes, period. If you happen to be looking for a place to settle down before your service is up, then you’ll be happy to know that active and reserve military pay is excused from the usual income tax. Military veterans and their families also get special preference when applying for government positions. Veterans who pass a skills test are able to waive the need for a commercial license that would be required for commercial driving positions. To make things even better, you could qualify for coverage on tuition fees if you are an in-state applicant with an honorable discharge. Add onto that half-priced fishing and hunting licenses and Montana’s not looking too bad.
Florida is undoubtedly the king of all states when it comes to retirement, so it should surprise no one that the citrus capital of the United States made number one on our list. Disabled veterans, as well as current and unremarried surviving spouses, are eligible for property tax cuts up to $5,000 per year. 100% disabled veterans and their partners are exempt from paying property taxes altogether. The state runs six veteran-specific nursing homes. Any service member hoping to apply should have an honorable discharge and have been a resident of the state for at least a year. In order to qualify, applicants must produce a certificate of need issued by a VA hospital physician. Those with the honor of a purple heart awarded to them can have undergraduate tuition fees waived completely. Their families may also be eligible for significant tuition discounts. State park admissions are up to 25% off with proof of service. Veterans are also able to purchase a gold member license for hunting, fresh and saltwater fishing, and various other permits for a mere $20. Add that to sunny days and mild winters and Florida’s far from being a bad place to be.
Whether you’re looking to move or trying to see what options might out there in your state, we hope our top five best states for veteran benefits have been useful to your journey. Don’t forget that this is far from an all-inclusive list. Your local VA and government offices should be able to give you more specific information and advice on your personal situation.