While there’s no doubt that each one of our 50 states has considerable love for their veterans, some show it in ways that are much more than commemorative. We’re talking about those states that work the hardest to improve veterans’ quality of life through everything from tax breaks to healthcare to education.
Let’s see who’s got the goods . . .
1. Alaska* – Although California has the largest population of veterans, Alaska has the largest per capita, since roughly one out of every eight residents has served. This could have something to do with Alaska’s nine military bases, but it may have as much to do with the way the state treats its vets.
- Housing Benefits – Alaskan veterans are offered both purchase preference and discounts when purchasing residential/recreational land. Vets can also qualify for mortgage loans at lower interest rates and with little to no down payment.
- Tax Benefits – Veterans that have a military disability of 50 percent or greater are exempt from taxes on the first $150,000 of their home’s assessed value.
- Employment Benefits – Veterans who are state employees can buy in up to five years of military time to increase their retirement benefits. Not only that, but qualified vets receive a five percent point preference when applying for state jobs, while disabled vets receive ten percent.
- Education Benefits – In the event a serviceperson dies in the line of duty or has been listed as a POW, their spouse and/or dependents can receive free undergraduate tuition at the University of Alaska.
- Recreation Benefits – Alaska offers several nice travel and leisure benefits, including 20 percent off train travel for active duty military, retirees or their dependents; reduced fare on Marine Highway System vessels for vets with service-related disabilities; free hunting and fishing licenses for qualified disabled vets and free camping passes to all state parks for disabled vets.
2. South Dakota – Even though it’s home to only two military bases and ranks ninth among states with the largest percentage of veterans, South Dakota does such a great job taking care of its vets that it comes in just barely behind Alaska.
- Housing Benefits – Qualified veterans, their spouses and widows are eligible for income-based pricing and admission to the South Dakota Veterans Home.
- Tax Benefits – Qualified disabled veterans and their spouses are eligible for property tax exemptions ranging from $100,000 of their property value all the way to full exemption.
- Financial Benefits – Qualified veterans who served during one of four specified periods of conflict may receive a $500 South Dakota Veterans Bonus.
- Employment Benefits – Eligible veterans, as well as spouses of deceased or qualified disabled veterans, receive preference when it comes to any type of government job, as long as they possess the necessary skills for the position.
- Education Benefits – Qualified veterans may receive free tuition at South Dakota state colleges for a length of time that correlates to their length of service. The state also offers free tuition to children under the age of 25 whose parent died while serving, free tuition for dependents of soldiers listed as MIA or POW and reduced tuition for members of the South Dakota National Guard.
- Recreation Benefits – Qualified disabled veterans, recipients of the VA’s “K” award and POWs are eligible for free hunting and fishing licenses, as well as free and reduced camping fees.
- Supplemental Burial Benefits – Although the federal government offers its own burial allowances to families, South Dakota will pay an additional $100 to the families of qualified veterans and, if necessary, will add another $100 toward the setting of a government headstone.
3. Wyoming – Coming in at number five for per capita veteran populations, Wyoming earns the number three spot in this list due to its incredible support network for vets, as well as the fact that it has the highest VA-facility-to-veteran ratio in the country (4.23/10,000).
- Housing Benefits – Qualified veterans are eligible for income-based rates and admission to the Wyoming Veterans Home.
- Tax Benefits – Select veterans and their un-remarried spouses are be eligible for a $3000 reduction of their home’s assessed value.
- Employment Benefits – When applying for state jobs, veterans get five-point advantage over non-veteran competitors, while qualified disabled vets are afforded a ten-point lead. Surviving spouses may also be eligible.
- Recreation Benefits – Veterans who are 100 percent disabled or are 65 and older qualify for free Bird, Small Game and Fishing Licenses, while vets with at least a 50 percent disability can qualify not only for free fishing licenses, but for free day and camping passes to all Wyoming state parks.
- Burial Benefits – Any veteran who’s received any type of discharge other than dishonorable, as well as their spouses and dependent children, can be interred in no-cost burial plot at the Oregon Trail State Veterans’ Cemetery in Evansville.
Although these three states deserve a pat on the back, they aren’t the only ones that go the extra mile for veterans. Honorable mentions include Nebraska (lowest veteran unemployment rate), North Dakota (3rd highest veteran income in the nation, despite having one of the lowest veteran populations) and Maine (10.5% of all private businesses are veteran owned).**
The Quickest Way to Access Most Veterans Benefits? Your DD-214.
No matter where you live or what your state has to offer, being able to show valid proof of service is typically necessary in order to be eligible for benefits. Granted, having a driver’s license or state I.D. with a veterans designation can be effective in some cases, but you’ll still need a DD-214 to get one of those.
Veterans and their eligible family can apply for their discharge papers for free through the National Archives’ eVetRecs service. Just bear in mind that there’s a good chance you’ll need to send multiple redundant emails, make several inquisitory phone calls and be on hold for a fair amount of time.
Or you can simplify the entire process by contacting DD214Direct.com, which was founded by veterans to take the burden and worry out of ordering military records. Our courteous, professional team members go to bat for you, diligently following up on every lead and leveraging a keen understanding of the National Archives procedures to zero in on your papers quickly, more rapidly than overwhelmed government workers can nearly every single time.
Our three-tiered pricing allows you to decide just how expeditiously you want to access the benefits you’ve got coming. We can even email them to you! Don’t waste another minute – click here to get started today