Benefits in my Backyard: Tennessee

Jonathan Kaupanger
April 20, 2018 - 12:10 pm


There are just about half a million veterans living in the Volunteer State. Veteran unemployment in Tennessee comes in at almost a full point below the national unemployment average. In 2015, the state was ranked at the top of the country for advanced industry job growth. Nine of the world’s largest companies are based in Tennessee.

If you move to the state, you should probably brush up on your Tennessee Whiskey knowledge. It was invented in 1866 by Jack Daniel. Jack was really just a nickname, his full name was Jasper Newton Daniel. (Somehow it just doesn't sound right - ordering a Jasper n' coke instead of a Jack n' coke!)  His death can be blamed on his bad memory. The way the story goes, he couldn’t remember the combination to his safe and one morning it made him so angry, he kicked the thing, hard. His toe became infected and he died from blood poisoning. 

There are a few Tennessee laws you need to be aware of if you chose to retire in this state. You should be aware that there is only one animal that you can shoot out of your car window in Tennessee – whales. (The closest beach to this landlocked state is 445 miles away, good luck shooting those whales!) In Memphis, it’s illegal for women to drive cars unless a man is either running or walking in front of it waving a red flag. Sticking with Memphis, you can’t take unfinished pie home from a restaurant and it’s very illegal for frogs to croak after 11 p.m. In Lexington, anyone who has been drinking is considered sober until they can’t hold onto the ground anymore. If you fall down drunk, technically you’re holding onto the ground, right?


There isn’t personal income tax in Tennessee. The state taxes dividend and interest income only.


Eligible veterans classified as out-of-state students pay in-state tuition and fees at all Tennessee public higher education institutions. The state’s education checklist is a good place to start.

  • Helping Heroes Grant. This is a first come, first served grant for up to $1,000 per semester. You must have an honorable discharge and be a state resident for one year prior to the application date. The grant is paid after the completion of the semester. Here’s a list of eligible schools.
  • Dependents of veterans: children (under 23 years old) and spouses of veterans may receive tree tuition and have a waiver for maintenance fees, student activity fees and registration fees. The veteran must have been killed or died as a result of injuries received while being a POW or MIA. Contact your local State Veterans Service Office for more info.


  • Veterans receive preference points when testing for open and open non-promotional examinations for state jobs. Tennessee only accepts online applications. To qualify you must have an honorable discharge.
    • 10 points: veterans and widows/widowers, spouses of 100 percent disabled veterans
    • 5 points: honorable discharge, served during a period of war, state resident for two years. Spouses of veterans who died in a time when there was not a war qualify for five points as well.
  • Find the nearest Tennessee Department of Labor American Job Center
  • Executive Job Openings in Tennessee
  • Information on starting a veteran owned business.



  • Fishing/Hunting licenses. Veterans with at least a 30 percent VA rated disability may receive a license for a one-time $10 fee.
  • Camping. During the off season veterans receive the same discounts offered to senior citizens. 


  • Certificate of Eligibility. Eligible veterans may obtain a certificate of eligibility when purchasing a home. Contact a state veteran field office for more info.
  • There are four state veterans’ homes in Tennessee. Admission eligibility includes state residency and born and entered the military in Tennessee. Spouses, widow/widowers and Gold Star Parents are eligible for admission on a space available basis.Costs are based on income.

Cemetery and Burial

  • There are four state veteran cemeteries in Tennessee.Veterans are buried at no charge, eligible dependents are buried at a cost of $600
  • Eligibility Determination Form.  Pre-needs determination is intended to simplify and assist the veteran’s next-of-kin at the time of death. This does not reserve a plot or niche at the cemetery. There is no cost for this.

Links or Resources