As a veteran, you probably know about the basic health care and education benefits available to you through the Department of Veterans Affairs: Tricare and the GI Bill. While these benefits alone are substantial, they are far from the only programs that exist to help provide more benefits to you and your family.
You deserve to take full advantage of every benefit available to you as thanks for serving our country! Here is a list of lesser-known benefits you can access today as shared by Kate Monroe, business coach for veterans, to help make your search simple and application process easy.
No one likes doing taxes, and military-related tax issues can only compound the stress that comes around every year at tax time. Individuals working with Volunteer Income Tax Assistance offices – located on most military bases – have expertise working with these complicated tax documents and are the perfect resource for veterans and their families.
Career guidance and assistance
American Corporate Partners helps veterans obtain employment after their time of service by connecting them with top companies in relevant fields. Along with being connected to job opportunities, veterans have the opportunity to receive one-on-one mentoring and career development services to ensure they have access to a secure and stable income.
Free college tuition for spouses and dependents
In some states, spouses and dependents of military veterans may qualify for free or reduced college tuition, which can significantly reduce stress and financial strain on you and your loved once. Unfortunately, there’s no single source of comprehensive information on this subject, though several organizations have put together lists of states and their respective tuition aid programs. Be sure to check with the relevant state departments to ensure your spouse or dependent qualifies.
Non-college degree programs and certificates
The GI Bill doesn’t just give you access to college credits; it is also available for training certification courses or other vocational training programs. These programs include everything from HVAC repair, truck driving, emergency medical training, barber or beautician school, and more. This benefit is perfect for veterans who want to change careers or pursue a path that doesn’t require a college degree.
There are also several free IT certifications available to veterans through the Department of Homeland Security, and other non-college degree programs in the tech space available through the VET TEC program.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers a variety of loans to veterans and their families interested in become homeowners. While receiving a loan is subject to approval, with so many loan options, nearly anyone who applies will be considered!
These loan options include:
- Purchase Loans: These loans assist veterans and their families in purchasing a home at a competitive interest rate, often without requiring a down payment or private mortgage insurance.
- Cash Out Refinance: These loans allow you to take cash out of your home equity to take care of financial concerns like paying off debt, funding higher education, or making vital home improvements.
- Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL): Also called the Streamline Refinance Loan, this loan can help you obtain a lower interest rate by refinancing your existing VA loan.
- Native American Direct Loan (NADL) Program: This program helps eligible Native American veterans finance the purchase, construction and/or improvement of homes on Federal Trust land, or reduce the interest rate on a VA loan.
Home-related grants and reductions
The VA also offers grants to veterans with permanent and total service-connected disabilities purchase or build an adapted home or modify an existing home. Many states also offer property tax reductions to elegible veterans, though you’ll need to contact your state’s Veteran Affairs office for more information, as the elegibility criteria varies state by state.
Just one more real estate benefit veterans have access to! The VA maintains a list of homes serviced by VA loans that have gone into foreclosure. Veterans have the ability to search the list of VA-acquired properties and purchase homes at a discount. All properties on this list qualify for VA financing, ensuring that you’ll have access to your family’s future home.
Veterans having trouble making their mortgage payments are eligible for repayment assistance through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Options like special repayment plans, loan forbearance, and loan modification programs ensure that no veteran will be left in the dark when it comes to paying off their home.
How to claim these benefits
When it comes to actually claiming the benefits available to you, you have a handful of options:
- Visit your local VSO (veteran service officer), who can assist you in filing your claims after your medical records arrive. The downside to this method is that VSOs only file claims for you based on your medical records. Additionally, they are overworked and underappreciated, meaning it may take them a long time to get to your paperwork.
- Speak to a Disabled American Veterans representative: the DAV is a charity that provides support to veterans by providing no-cost assistance such as transportation to medical appointments and service location. However, keep in mind that many DAV workers are volunteers, meaning there might be times their services are stretched thin.
- Loop in a third-party organization: If you’re struggling to get a disability claim addressed in full, legal professionals can be a great asset (if you can absorb the cost). While this isn’t an option for everyone, it’s worth keeping in mind in case you have no other option.
- VetComm.us: This group offers veterans and their families a step-by-step course and workbook that will enable you to file disability claims from home without your medical record, cutting out wait times and middlemen. Especially in these uncertain times, anything you can do from home can easily put your mind at rest!
While it’s not as hard as it used to be to access benefits as a veteran, there are a whole host of benefits available that are not often talked about and can be difficult to find with just a simple search online. You deserve all the benefits coming to you, and this list is a great resource to help you find where and how to apply for the benefits you deserve. Thank you for your service.
Kate Monroe is a published author and celebrated business coach for realtors and veterans. She trains professionals in their journey to financial success by helping them build their skills and optimize their sales strategy. Kate is also the owner of Vetcomm, a service that aims to support veterans find their best benefits and qualify. Her work has been featured in Yahoo Finance, Inman, NBC and FOX among other publications To book a call with her, please visit http://katemonroeceo.com/.