Benefits in my backyard

California, Texas and Florida

Jonathan Kaupanger
December 14, 2017 - 3:10 pm

(Photo by Tom Gralish/Philadelphia Inquirer/MCT/Sipa USA)


By this point in your life, you should already know that Veterans Affairs has benefits for us veterans. What’s less known is that states have special benefits set aside for veterans too.

It would be total overkill to list everything from all the states and territories, so we thought we’d start with the states that are home to the most veterans; California, Texas, and Florida– here’s what these states can do for us. We’ll post at least one article a week on this until we’ve covered every corned of the U.S.


1,681,430 veterans call the Golden State home. There are eight veterans homes there, taking care of around 3,000 veterans.  If you’re 55 or older with an honorable discharge, you can apply for admission.  The age requirement is waived for disabled or homeless vets needing long-term care.

CalVet Farm and Home Loans is a direct loan from the state. It has highly competitive rates, fast processing and great earthquake and disaster coverage.  You’ll need at least 90 days on active duty to be eligible.

The Veterans Property Tax Exemption for the state is a little odd. Stick with me on this, and no, it’s not a typo either.  The California Constitution says there’s a $4,000 real or personal property exemption for honorably discharged veterans.  Spouse or pensioned-parents of deceased (honorably discharged) vets can claim this too.  Here’s the sticking point though, you’re only qualified if the property is valued at $5,000 ($10k for married couples).

Disabled veterans or unmarried spouses of a deceased disabled veterans can use CA’s Disabled Veterans Property Tax exemption. To qualify for this exemption you have to be either blind in both eyes, have lost the use of two or more limbs or are totally disabled (determination by the VA or military branch). If you meet these requirements, you can use a basic $100,000 exemption or the low-income (less than $52,470) exemption of $150,000.  There’s more to this, so check out the states taxation code, section 205.5 for more info.

The CA Military Family Relief Fund provides short term financial assistance to CA National Guard members when impacted by deployment. Motor vehicle registration fees are waived, there’s a veterans employment preference in the state as well.  Even a way to get college tuition fee waivers for your dependents.  The list goes on, but you can find out more about these and many other programs by going to the CalVet website here.


Texas is #2 as far as the number of veterans who call the state home. 1,584,844 vets have access to these state benefits.  There are eight veterans’ homes in Texas and even Gold Star parents are eligible to stay in one of these homes.  Costs are based on income.

The state gives partial exemptions for any property owned by disabled veterans or surviving spouses and children of deceased disabled vets. The amount of the exemption is determined by the percentage of the disability.  Texas vets can also get grants to help deal with things like emergency assistance, family or child services, transportation services to name a few.  The grants are first-come, first serve.  The Texas Veterans Commission office has all the info you’ll need.  (I had a bit of a struggle getting on the website, by the way.)

The Hazlewood Act gives qualified vets, spouses and dependent children with up to 150 hours of tuition exemption at public institutions in the state. Vets will need to reside in the state during the semester or term when they are claiming the exemption.  The Legacy Act lets veterans give unused hours of exemption to a child under some conditions too.  There’s a special type of tuition assistance for members of the National Guard as well.

If you’re looking for a state government job, Texas has a rule that veterans get preference until they have 40 percent veteran employment. Disabled veterans can enjoy free admission to all Texas State parks as well as free fishing and hunting licenses.  The Texas Veterans Commission website has all the info on these and other available benefits.


Rounding out our states for today is Florida. 1,525,400 veterans live in the Sunshine state.  The state has six veterans’ nursing homes, one assisted living facility and a 149 bed Assisted living Domiciliary Home.

If you have a service-connected disability of at least 10 percent, you might be eligible for a $5,000 property tax exemption. You’ll have to give the county tax official documentation of your disability to get this. You’ll also have to be a permanent resident of the state, too.

The state does have veterans’ preference for employment with government jobs. You’ll need an honorable discharge for this.  Spouses, un-remarried veteran’s widows and widowers qualify under certain circumstances too.

For education, the state waives undergraduate-level tuition for Purple Heart or other combat related decorations that are superior to the Purple Heart. If you’re covered by Title 38, you can get one tuition deferment each year and an addition one if a delay in benefits happens.  Active Florida Guard members are exempt for half of tuition and fees (contact your National Guard Unit for more info on this).

You can visit the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs for information on any of these or many other available programs.

Next week, we’ll look at what New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio has to offer for their veterans.