Benefits in my Backyard:IL, MI and WA

Jonathan Kaupanger
January 17, 2018 - 11:02 am
State Benefits

(Photo by Gary Reyes/Bay Area News Group/Tns)


$5k for just coming home after your military career and one of the best states (so far) with services for homeless veterans. Here’s a quick view of some of the benefits 1.7 million vets can access in Illinois, Michigan and Washington State.


There are five state run veterans’ homes in the Prairie State, with one specifically for homeless vets who are dealing with Post Traumatic Stress or substance abuse. If you’ve served at least one (yes, that’s 1) day of active duty, you’re eligible. Although, anyone who has served during wartime gets precedence for admission.  Peacetime vets, spouses, surviving spouses and Gold Star parents are also eligible.  Costs are based on income, but the most you’ll pay is $1,429 each month.

The state does offer a few property tax breaks for vets. There’s a specially adapted housing tax exemption that lasts as long as the veteran or spouse lives on the property.  Qualifying vets returning from active duty can apply for this $5,000 exemption once they return to Illinois.  Disabled vets living in mobile homes can apply for tax exemption of their home if they are part of the VA’s Specially Adapted Housing Grant.

Veterans in Illinois don’t pay any income tax on either active duty or retirement pay. If you’re a WWII vet who has an honorable discharge, you can get a $10 domestic and $15 foreign service bonus if you were a state resident when you entered the service.  You’ll need to have served between Sept. 16, 1940 and Sept. 3, 1945 to get this.  Vets from Korean, Vietnam, Persian Gulf and the Global War on Terrorism are eligible for a $100 bonus, too.  The state benefits also have payments for Vietnam veteran survivors, POW’s and survivors of the Global War on Terrorism as well.

Illinois vets get preference in state employment, there’s even a Veterans Outreach Program that can give counseling to vets who are looking for state government employment. Another employment service in the state is the Jobs for Vets program.  With this program, you not only get help looking for a job, but you’ll get the training for that job as well.  Educational requirements for state police, conservation police, municipal police and firefighters are waved for vets with an honorable discharge and a campaign service medal for either Afghanistan or Iraq.

The state has a really good amount of education benefits too. The Universal Military Training and Service Act gives financial aid to state elementary, high school or vocational training schools.  There also a MIA/POW scholarship in the state that pays full tuition for a four year education.  You can apply for a veterans’ grant as long as you do it within six months of discharge. The National Guard has a grant as well.  And each county in the state can give a scholarship to the child of a vet that will cover all four consecutive years of education.


Home to just over half a million veterans, Michigan runs two state homes. An other than dishonorable discharge, VA health care eligibility are just some of the requirements to reside in one of these homes.  However, Michigan residency is not required.  Fees are based on income.

If you’re on active duty, you don’t pay tax on your military pay. Retirement benefits in the state might be tax-free, but this depends on your age and a few other requirements.  Wartime vets can get help with some emergency situations with the Michigan Veterans Trust fund.

Vets, and their spouses, get preference for state employment. The state also has several outreach programs that help veterans who are looking for jobs.  There’s even a special program designed to help mid and late-career vets who are about to go through a job transition.

Children of some deceased or totally and permanently disabled veterans can get an undergraduate tuition grant of up to $2,800.


Long-term nursing and assisted-living care veterans can happen in any of the state’s four veteran’s homes. Requirements include an honorable discharge, state residency, spouse or widow of an eligible vet or if you’re a Gold Star parent.

The state runs a Homeless Veterans Program that helps vets become employable and get them back into the job market. Needs assessments, enrollments in appropriate programs, shelter, transitional housing placements, employment and training support are some of the services provided. Another program to help homeless vets in Washington is the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Project.  Housing, food, transportation, living stability and employment support are some of the services provided.  The House Key Veterans Program helps vets make down payments on homes with a 3 percent interest, ten year loan term.

The Veterans Estate Management Program offers vets and family members who are unable of managing their own finances, assistance by assuming custody of their finances. Basic needs like housing, food, clothing and medical care are provided.  Vets with a 100 percent, service-connected disability, with an income less than $40,000 (not including VA disability payments) can be exempt from paying property tax in their homes.  Surviving spouses can also qualify for this exemption.

Veterans looking for work in state government, and who have an honorable discharge, get extra points on jobs that require an examination. 5 percent is added to scores for non-combat vets, 10 percent added for combat vets and 5 percent gets added to the scores for mobilized guard or reserve members.

Your military training and experience might count towards some civilian healthcare professional credentialing requirements. The state has to determine that the military training is substantially equivalent to the state’s standards.

Washington offers Post Traumatic Stress counseling services that are community based. Some group services are offered to women vets and spouses of veterans too. The state also offers other special benefits, including special license plates, returning vet transition assistance, reduced public transportation fees and reduced hunting and fishing license fees, to name a few.

Up next week, state benefits from Arizona, Tennessee and Missouri.