In the U.S., much assistance is available for veterans. As well as help regarding education, work opportunities, mental health and housing, financial assistance is among the ways the nation seeks to support its veterans. A veteran is any man or woman who actively served in the U.S. Armed Forces, including the army, navy, air force and coast guard. Veteran programs are generally available to any vet who had a regular or honorable discharge,
In addition to federal benefits, including free or low-cost medical care, pension benefits, disability compensation, business loans and burial and memorials, most states also typically offer a range of veterans’ benefits. These can include things like tax breaks, free hunting or fishing permits, tuition waivers for education and vehicle registration fee discounts or waivers. Some benefits are available for a veteran’s family members too, such as spouse or dependents.
In Hawaii, state benefits for veterans include:
Veterans in Hawaii do not pay income tax on Military Retired pay or Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) payments. Other tax-free veterans’ payments in Hawaii include Retired Serviceman’s Family Protection Plan (RSFPP) and Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (RCSBP).
Additionally, Military Disability Retirement Pay, given to veterans for sickness or injury that arose from active service, should not be included as taxable income. Payments may be made as allowances, pensions or annuities, and may include disability compensation, home adaptation grants and grants for modified vehicles.
Some survivors may receive Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). DIC payments are tax free.
If the VA assesses a veteran as having a total disability that’s connected to their service, the individual is exempt from property taxes on their main residence. The home may not also be used for commercial reasons. A surviving spouse of an eligible veteran can continue to claim the tax exemption for as long as they remain unmarried.
Note that property taxes are assessed by Hawaii’s four separate counties, and each county has its own application form for examptions.
Disabled Hawaiian veterans who were state residents prior to entering active service, live in Hawaii at the present time and plan to live permanently in Hawaii may be eligible for a special housing grant towards the purchase or remodeling of a home in Hawaii in order to make it more accessible. The maximum grant is $5,000 and grants may only be issued once. Grants are also dependent on available state funds.
Located in the town of Hilo on Hawaii’s largest island, often referred to as the Big Island, Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home is the state’s only veterans’ home. Eligible veterans aged 55 or above who are in need of skilled nursing care can apply to reside in the nursing home. Residents may be responsible for any fees that fall outside the scope of VA benefits, Medicare and Medicaid. Veterans’ spouses may also be able to receive care in the nursing home, dependent upon available beds.
The veterans’ home provides around-the-clock personalized care to residents, as well as rehabilitation from licensed therapists, respite care and hospice care. Adult day health care is also available for non-resident veterans.
If there is a waiting list, the community’s admission team takes into account various factors, including the severity of disabilities, the length of military service, the ability to earn a living and a person’s immediate family situation.
Hawaii operates a scheme called Hawaii State Veterans’ Preference for Public Employment. This means that when hiring for roles in public employment, Hawaii has hiring preferences for veterans. Using a points-based system, veterans’ preference points are added onto test and exam scores as completed by all applicants for competitive positions.
Honorably discharged veterans who meet service criteria and who were on active duty receive 5 preference points for employment. Honorably discharged veterans who have a service-related disability or received the Purple Heart award receive 10 preference points.
In some situations, spouses of disabled veterans and surviving spouses who remain unmarried may be able to get 10 preference points for employment as well.
Eligible veterans who completed military service during the era of WWII, the Korean War or the Vietnam War can obtain a free honorary high school diploma via the Kupono Diploma Program, operated by the Hawaii Department of Education.
Hawaii veterans who have been assessed as having a 100% disability that is service connected and who were not dishonorably discharged are eligible for a $45 discount each year on the state vehicle registration fee. Veterans must still pay the remaining balance.
Vehicle tax exemptions apply where specially adapted vehicles have been provided to veterans with a service-connected disability. The exemption can only be used for one vehicle and the vehicle mustn’t be used for commercial purposes.
Vehicle License Plate
Qualifying veterans can choose special license plates for cars and motorcycles, if desired, for the same price as a standard license plate. Special plates are available for:
- Combat Veteran
- Combat Wounded
- Korea Veteran
- Vietnam Veteran
- Persian Gulf Veteran
- Pearl Harbor Survivor
- WW2 Veteran
- Gold Star Family
- Former POW
Veteran designations are also available for driving licenses in Hawaii and state ID cards.
If available on file, veterans can obtain free certified copies of their DD-214 Military Discharge papers.
Qualified veterans, along with spouses and qualifying dependents, can be buried in one of Hawaii’s seven veterans’ cemeteries (East Hawaii Veterans Cemetery No. I in Hilo is closed for new interments). There may be a small charge for burial services.
In addition to Hawaii State Veterans’ Cemetery, located in Kaneohe on the island of O’ahu, other veterans’ cemeteries in Hawaii are:
- East Hawaii Veterans Cemetery No. II, Hilo
- West Hawaii Veterans Cemetery, Kailua-Kona
- Kauai Veterans Cemetery, Hanapepe
- Maui Veterans Cemetery, Makawao
- Molokai Veterans Cemetery, Hoolehua
- Lanai Veterans Cemetery, Lanai City