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Financial Benefits for Veterans

November 07, 2023

I want to recognize ALL United States veterans today. Thank you for your choice, dedication, sacrifice, and service. I want to recognize ALL United States veterans today. Thank you for your choice, dedication, sacrifice, and service. 

My dad was a career Gunny and fought in Korea and Vietnam twice. My son served five years in the Army and fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. I did not see combat, but I served in the Navy for 26 years and was deployed five times including a tour in Qatar during Enduring Freedom. I appreciate my dad, my son, and ALL Veterans who have chosen to serve in a way many don’t choose.


A Little Military History

By the way a quick birthday shout-out to the United States Marine Corps and Marine veterans, which were founded on November 10th, 1775.

Other Birthdays are: 

  • US Army – June 14th, 1775. This makes the Army the oldest branch. The US Army was formed under General Washington by the 2nd Continental Congress with companies from Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia to defend Boston.
  • US Navy – October 13th, 1775 – With the construction of six frigates, the US Navy was also created to defend Boston. The Naval Act was not passed by Congress until 1794.
  • US Marine Corps – All I need to say here is Tun Tavern. 
  • US Air Force – September 18th, 1947 – This is the date when the US Air Force was added as its own military branch. Originally, they became part of the Army Signal Corps on August 1st, 1907.
  • US Coast Guard – September 4th, 1790 – They currently operate under Homeland Security. However, during times of war, under the Navy, and therefore Department of Defense.
  • US Space Force – December 20th, 2019 – The US Space Force operates under the Air Force and is the smallest branch, with approximately 8,400 personnel.

Financial Benefits to Veterans

Veterans may be eligible for a variety of financial benefits.  In this article, I will summarize just a few of these benefits. I categorize our veterans into one of three categories: former service members, reservists, and retirees. Active members are not technically veterans – yet- but do qualify for some benefits too.

Most Veterans I know have taken advantage of two specific economic benefits:

  1. Access to Veterans Administration (VA) home loans. The economic benefit is that a veteran does not have to make a down payment on a home purchase and doesn’t have to pay for mortgage insurance. This makes it easier to get into a home.
  2. The other major benefit is a GI Bill which helps veterans pay for undergraduate or vocational education.

Veterans can also get health care through a VA hospital, although many choose to go elsewhere. I don’t want to get too deep into disabled veteran benefits because it is complex, and I have little experience with it. However, if you are a disabled vet, service organizations like Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). American Legion and others can and do help with claims.

After 6 years of active duty in the Navy, I joined the US Naval Reserves and served in that organization for 20 more years. Many join the Reserves to earn a little extra money while they figure out their career paths. In my opinion, the Reserves or Guard are a pretty good side gig. A reservist or guard member doesn’t necessarily qualify for all benefits, but there are some benefits based on time served.

Part-time pay is one such benefit. If you start getting promoted and make it a career, it can grow into a nice benefit for one weekend a month and two weeks a year. The cost (risk) for these benefits is that you are the one deploying if the “balloon goes up”.

Retirees get more benefits, the most important of which is a retirement benefit. Active-duty retirees who served their 20 years or more get retirement pay immediately upon retirement. Reserve/Guard retirees get their retirement benefits at age 60. A reservist/guard can get their retirement 90 days early for every 90 days of a fiscal year they served in theatre in support of our operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I served 180 days in Qatar. Sixty-five of those days crossed over into the new fiscal year, so I received my retirement pay 90 days early instead of 180 days. Both Active Duty and Reserve Retirees get Tricare Health Benefits. There is a premium but suffice it to say that it is typically less expensive than private or group plans. The type of Tricare for which you qualify may differ as well.

A benefit that I have never tried to use is MAC flights. This allows a veteran to fly on a military flight to destinations where the flight is already flying. The challenge is it might be a cargo flight, which is not particularly comfortable. Also, your return flight could easily be booked (even by cargo) or delayed, so if you want to take advantage of this you must be flexible.

A couple of interesting things I’ve learned over the last year is there is a Long-Term Care Insurance option available through the VA. I do not know anyone who has used it, nor do I know how it works yet, but it might be a less expensive way to get coverage over commercial LTC and it might be a better quality than Medicaid.

A great starting point to learn all about VA benefits is The Military Wallet.  

Thank you for your service and Happy Veterans Day!