The Department of Veterans Affairs has been working hard to spread the word about state-by-state veterans benefits, which oftentimes go above and beyond federal offerings. Because so many ClearanceJobs readers have done a tour overseas, here is a roundup of state veteran websites and some of the coolest benefits I think are out there. In writing this, I’ve tried to focus on benefits specifically for veterans no longer in the military. (Lord knows that Active Duty is aware of how many discounts that military ID can get them.)

This list does not focus on benefits for disabled veterans, which are deservedly lavish, and in the case of every state, cover pretty much everything you can think of. In most instances, I went for the most interesting benefit (to me), though not necessarily the best. Do you have a favorite benefit in your state that I couldn’t find? Let me know in the comments!


I’m not saying that a driver’s license with the word “VETERAN” printed on it in big letters will get you out of a speeding ticket. But I am saying that a driver’s license with the word “VETERAN” printed on it in big letters won’t hurt, either. When renewing your license, you can get this benefit for free. (Alabama benefits for vets)


The Alaska Veterans Land Discount is just an unbelievably good deal for veterans looking to buy land to build a house. In short, you can buy up to five acres of residential or recreational land that is owned by the state. As long as it is unoccupied and zoned for residential use, you can buy it at a stunning 25% discount. Here’s the catch: it is a one-shot deal. Once you use the benefit, it’s used forever. This is settlement land, so unlikely to be in the heart of downtown Anchorage, but there’s a lot of it: 580,000 acres, in one of the most beautiful places in the world. A veteran starting a new life could do pretty well with this benefit. (Alaska benefits for vets)


Look, these are hard times for everybody, and sometimes getting a job isn’t a matter of just applying. Maybe you need a suit. Or maybe you need tools. Steel-toe boots? Maybe you need a bicycle to get to work. The Arizona Veteran Tool Kit program can help those in need. (Arizona benefits for vets)


The best benefit here by miles is in-state tuition for all veterans, regardless of where you live, as long as you attend a public university in Arkansas. (I used this one for graduate school eons ago, and it was an easy process run by some great people.) If you are a retiree, it’s not a bad place to live, either. Retirement pay is exempt from state taxes, and hunting and fishing licenses are free forever. (Arkansas benefits for vets)


As you might have heard, California is like one big business success story, and if you’re a veteran looking to start the next Apple in your garage, does California have a deal for you. Though the details vary based on location, the upshot is that California offers business license, tax, and fee waivers for certain veteran-owned small businesses involved in sales. (California benefits for vets)


Honestly, the state veterans benefits in Colorado aren’t that great. Pretty much the best thing going there is five point preference bonus for state employment. They also give priority service to veterans at their workforce centers for job seekers. (Colorado benefits for vets)


Connecticut offers tuition waivers for (Connecticut-residing) veterans for its state schools and community colleges. Fees aren’t waived, but this is still a really great deal for veterans. (Connecticut benefits for vets)


There is no big flagship veterans benefit in Delaware the way there is in, say, Arkansas or Alaska, but there are quite a few small things that add up to a nice package overall. Like Colorado, the state offers a five-point preference for state employment to veterans. Unlike Colorado, they also offer year-round state park admissions for 50% off. Veterans, their dependents, and families also get free notary services. (Delware benefits for vets)


The Florida veterans’ benefits guide is just a list of federal benefits, with the governor’s picture on it. It’s almost like Florida exists to make Colorado look good. They’ll put you in a nursing home, so that’s something. (Florida benefits for vets)


If you like hunting and fishing, you could do worse than live in Georgia. The state offers a one-time, one year waiver for hunting and fishing license fees, and after you get your free year, you can get a lifetime license for 20% off. (Georgia benefits for vets)


Unless they have some secret website with better benefits, the best thing Hawaii has to offer is a special veteran’s license plate that you have to buy. They’ll also bury you in a state veterans cemetery. So you can look forward to that. On the upside, it’s in Hawaii. (Hawaii benefits for vets)


If you’ve ever lived paycheck to paycheck, you know that even a minor emergency can be catastrophic. An unexpected trip to urgent care, a fire or flood, a sudden death in the family, and there are secondary and tertiary effects. Suddenly you’re unable to pay the electric bill, or short on the rent, and it takes months if not years to catch up. Enter Idaho’s financial assistance for wartime veterans. It provides $1,000 for extreme emergencies, if requested within 90 days of the incident. (Idaho benefits for vets)


Illinois easily has one of the best suites of veterans benefits in the nation, and if I listed them all, it would be longer than the rest of this article. Longtime readers of Clearance Jobs know that entrepreneurship is a passion of mine (here is my guide for how to get involved in government contracting), and Illinois is practically begging veterans to start companies and do business with the state. Veterans have access to free small business development centers, access to capital, small business set-asides (if you start, for example, an air conditioning repair service or a janitorial service or auto repair, the state has money reserved just for you), state procurement benefits—you name it. I have read the state veterans websites for literally every U.S. state, and I just cannot overstate how great Illinois is. (Illinois benefits for vets)


Military truck drivers who live in Indiana are eligible for a commercial drivers license skills waiver. (I have written previously about cleared jobs for my fellow former truck drivers—there are more than you think!) You need a copy of your DD-214, a letter from someone in your chain of command, and a copy of your military truck drivers license. Apply within one year of separation. (Indiana benefits for vets)


Iowa offers the same standard stuff as most states. Particularly good benefits usually revolve around home ownership. War veterans are eligible for a $5,000 grant for covering down payments and closing costs when buying a house. Moreover, the state reduces your assessed home value for property taxes by $1,852. (Iowa benefits for vets)


Nobody signed up for the war to be rewarded by Kansas—and good thing, too, because they’re not offering much unless you are dead or about to be. The most interesting thing Kansas offers is a medallion for Vietnam veterans, which you can apply for here. (Kansas benefits for vets)


In the aftermath of COVID-19, 10% of the country is unemployed (a number that doesn’t account for “employed” people and gig workers making far less than they were previously), and the U.S. just suffered the worst second quarter performance in history. In short, a lot of people are about to lose their homes—veterans included. Kentucky offers emergency assistance to veterans to obtain or keep their housing, and keep their utilities running. It could save a lot of veterans from losing everything they own. (Kentucky benefits for vets)


Louisiana’s governor is a West Point graduate and Ranger-qualified, and made a “veterans first business initiative” his signature priority in 2019. It allows a special certification for veteran-owned Louisiana businesses, and encourages state offices to work  with veteran-owned businesses whenever possible. Moreover, veteran-owned businesses get a 12% evaluation bonus when bidding for state contracts. It gets even better, though, because bonus points go to prime businesses, as well, when they subcontract with veteran-owned businesses. This is just a great deal for veteran businesspeople in Louisiana. (Louisiana benefits for vets)


I admit to getting annoyed when I see states go cheap on state park benefits for veterans. Maine—one of the most beautiful states in the nation—does it right, though, offering lifetime day-use state park and museum passes for veterans, for free. (They also offer a $2,000 rescue benefit for veterans in an emergency.) (Maine benefits for vets)


Like Maine, Maryland offers veterans free admission to all state parks. (Every state should do this, really. I mean, come on.) Like Indiana, military drivers can get waivers for the commercial drivers license test. As is done in several other states, Maryland veterans get hiring preference. (Maryland benefits for vets)


Perhaps the best state veterans benefit in Massachusetts is the tuition waiver to any state college or university. (Details are available at the veterans website and the state department of education website.) The state also offers a grant for short-duration schools as part of its Veterans Workforce Investment Program. And, hey, if you just got back from the war, here’s a bonus of up to $1,000 for your troubles. (Massachusetts benefits for vets)


It’s hard to choose just one cool benefit that Michigan offers its veterans, but this might be the most unique: “fireworks free Fourth of July” parks for veterans who might otherwise relive the worst of their time overseas. If the park allows it, be a pal and bring your dog, too. (Michigan benefits for vets)


By miles, the best education benefit in Minnesota (and one of the best in the country) is the Minnesota GI Bill. Not to be confused with the Montgomery or Post-9/11 GI Bill, this one aims to make up any shortfall in tuition payments. It covers diplomas, certificates, undergraduate degrees, and grad school, as well as such things as admission tests like the GRE or SAT (which is another thing that makes it unique). (Minnesota benefits for vets)


The Veterans Home Purchase Board is a Mississippi veterans benefit that provides low interest mortgage loans up to $300,000 for veterans to buy houses. Mississippi also offers in-state tuition to any veteran regardless of whether he or she is from the state. (Mississippi benefits for vets)


Missouri’s benefits are more generous than some, and less generous than others. The Missouri Returning Heroes Act limits the cost of each credit hour to $50 at state schools. (A full class load is thus still $900 per semester, not counting fees.) But it’s better than nothing. The state also provides military drivers exemption from the CDL exam, and offers hiring benefits. Those with a military motorcycle license (which is a thing I didn’t even know existed) are also exempted from taking the motorcycle skills test when applying for a civilian license. (Missouri benefits for vets)


No two ways about it: Montana does it right. Veterans from Montana get a 100% tuition waiver on all state schools. I’m not sure why every state doesn’t do this. (Montana benefits for vets)


Nebraska takes Montana and does one better. Not only does the state offer a 100% tuition waver for public universities, but it also pays for a community college degree, diploma, or certificate. This is a really great way for veterans to build a carefully honed skillset. (Think: a diploma in medical coding, and then a baccalaureate in computer science, which would make you invaluable in the medical software industry.) (Nebraska benefits for vets)


Nevada doesn’t offer much, but what it does offer is pretty excellent. When a state office is filling a position, 22% of interviews must be with veterans. If there fewer than 22% of applicants are veterans, every single qualified veteran on the hiring list must be interviewed. (Nevada benefits for vets)

New Hampshire

It sounds weirdly like a Chance card in Monopoly, but all New Hampshire war veterans are entitled to $100. (New Hampshire benefits for vets)

New Jersey

There are several interesting New Jersey veterans benefits (special service medals come immediately to mind) but the best one is reserved for veterans who just left the service. You are entitled to a $6,000 exemption on your New Jersey tax return if you separated before the last day of the tax year. (New Jersey benefits for vets)

New Mexico

Typically, to use state veterans benefits, respective states require you to have lived there immediately before your deployment, or to have established residency for some pre-determined number of years. When it comes to in-state tuition, New Mexico allows you to move there and immediately take advantage of the program. Moreover, the state offers a wartime scholarship fund that enables veterans who exhausted their G.I. Bill (or who simply cannot use the G.I. Bill in the prescribed 15-year time limit) to still get tuition assistance. (New Mexico benefits for vets)

New York

One of the most interesting veteran benefits in New York is the ability to apply your military service toward your state retirement. There are limitations to this—you can’t use your service to exceed the maximum retirement benefit, for example—but overall, it’s a great way to put a better retirement within easier reach. (New York benefits for vets)

North Carolina

The North Carolina Scholarship for Children of Wartime Veterans pays for the children of veterans to get a four-year college degree in any North Carolina state school. It’s one of the best benefits on this list, and the sort of thing every state ought to be doing. (North Carolina benefits for vets)

North Dakota

The “peace garden” state will help you get high. How’s that for a benefit? North Dakota has legalized medical marijuana, and there is a special provision in the law to streamline access for veterans. Before you take advantage of this one, remember: just because it’s legal in your state doesn’t mean the feds are OK with it. If you start smoking pot, you will almost certainly lose your security clearance. (North Dakota benefits for vets)


Ohio has a veteran bonus program that pays $100 per month of service in a combat zone, capping at $1,500. That’s easy money for something you’ve already done. For entrepreneurs in the state, Ohio also has a robust small business program that helps veterans get advice and capital to start a company. (Ohio benefits for vets)


All honorably discharged veterans have free access to all state parks and museums. All you need is a DD-214 and an OK drivers license and you’re in. Again, this is a great service that every state should consider implementing. (Oklahoma benefits for vets)


Oregon has a massive program to help veterans buy houses. The state has its own home loan program separate from the VA Home Loan Guaranty, and over 300,000 veterans have accessed more than $8 billion since the program’s inception. (Oregon benefits for vets)


For a state that’s been sending soldiers to war longer than there’s even been an army, the state veterans benefits of Pennsylvania are pretty weak. (It also has, hands down, the weirdest and least-usable veterans affairs website on the Internet. Thankfully, there is a brochure you can download that actually makes sense.) It has veterans preference for state civil service jobs, so that’s something, I guess. Admittedly, the education perks for Pennsylvania guardsmen who serve six years are pretty good. (Pennsylvania benefits for vets)

Rhode Island

While the details vary depending on where you live in the state, Rhode Island offers real estate tax credits and motor vehicle tax exemptions for veterans and Gold Star parents. The numbers are available here. (Rhode Island benefits for vets)

South Carolina

Relative to the rest of the country, South Carolina doesn’t do anything particularly special for its veterans. They have veteran hiring preference for state jobs, and will bury you in a state veterans cemetery. The University of South Carolina School of Law has a particularly good program, however: they offer free legal services to indigent and low-income veterans, and are able to help with things like housing, divorce, and guardianship. (South Carolina benefits for vets)

South Dakota

The state benefits of South Dakota are pretty straightforward. They pay $100 toward the setting of a headstone at a veteran’s grave (which I’m surprised more states don’t do). For the living, the state offers a $500 veterans bonus, which you can apply for here. (South Dakota benefits for vets)


During the off-season. Tennessee offers a 50% discount for veterans who use the state parks. (Yeah, they went cheap on you. Come on, Tennessee—learn from Maine and Maryland.) (Tennessee benefits for vets)


As you might imagine, Texas went big on its veterans benefits. There are little ones like a fee waiver for veteran physicians applying to the Texas medical board, and big ones, like 150 hours of free tuition—including fees!—at most Texas public universities. Your best bet is to use their website to browse all that’s available. (Be sure to scroll down on the main page. The stuff at the top is pretty useless.) (Texas benefits for vets)


As far as benefits go, Utah isn’t bad, and they have a handy guide that offers an overview of everything available for veterans. One benefit that caught my eye was the Accelerated Credentialing to Employment program, which seeks to help veterans use their past training to get rapid certification or licensure for various trades in the private sector. (Utah benefits for vets)


This is one of my favorite entries on the list: Veterans from Vermont can get a Green Mountain Passport for $2! That’s a lifetime day pass to all state parks in one of the most scenic places in the world. (Vermont benefits for vets)


The best state benefits for veterans in Virginia relate to employment services. Veterans transitioning to civilian life, particularly, are eligible for a great program called the Transition Assistance Program, that does everything from help you write a resume to connect you with companies. (ClearanceJobs is always on top of the latest trends in resume writing, and why now is the time to get your resume in order. And if you are doing a video job interview, here is what you need to know.) Moreover, the state offers training to hiring managers to help them recruit veterans into the workforce. (Virginia benefits for vets)


The state of Washington has a particularly strong program to help veterans find trades. The state has veterans preference in hiring, and state jobs that require an examination offer veterans a 5% bonus. Companies get a tax credit for hiring veterans, and vets themselves have access to expedited credentialing for jobs that require a license. And for higher education, several state schools waive or reduce tuition for veterans who have exhausted their VA benefits. (Washington benefits for vets)

West Virginia

No matter where you are from, if you move there and enroll at a West Virginia university within three years of your discharge, you are eligible for in-state tuition at state universities. Another great benefit for Afghanistan veterans is a bonus of up to $600. (Apply here.) (West Virginia benefits for vets)


The Wisconsin G.I. Bill allows veterans to attend state schools for free, including universities and trade schools. It will cover eight semesters, and will even cover graduate school. (Wisconsin benefits for vets)


The best benefit for veterans in the state of Wyoming is a property tax exemption, which lowers the assessed value of your primary residence by $3000. Don’t own a house? You are still eligible, and can apply it to your vehicle’s licensing fee. (Wyoming benefits for vets)

Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments!

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David Brown is a regular contributor to ClearanceJobs. His most recent book, THE MISSION (Custom House, 2021), is now available in bookstores everywhere in hardcover and paperback. He can be found online at