Serving time in the US military is an extremely honorable thing to do for your country and the people living in it. However, leaving a career in the military can be a difficult time for a veteran.
In fact, 44% of military veterans struggle to adjust to civilian life. So if you are finding this transition difficult, you are not alone.
Fortunately, help and support are at hand. The state of Illinois shows its gratitude and support for veterans and active military members by offering them a range of financial, educational, and recreational benefits.
Read on to find out exactly which Illinois State Veteran Benefits you are eligible for!
Veteran Housing Benefits
There are more than 700,000 veterans living in Illinois at the moment. However, a large number of veterans struggle to find a permanent home when they return to civilian life.
Fortunately, there are five state-run homes available exclusively for veterans living in Illinois. They give priority to war veterans but provided that you have at least one service day on your record you could be eligible for a place in one of them!
Financial Benefits for Veterans in Illinois
Financial stability has a huge impact on your quality of life. It can be hard to find this when have left the military and are searching for a job. Because of this, Illinois offers various financial benefits to veterans.
Veteran Tax Breaks in Illinois
Illinois does not charge income tax on:
- Active duty pay
- National guard wages
- Reserve wages
- Military retiree payments
- SBP payments
On top of this, you may be eligible for housing tax exemptions. This reduces property taxes by up to $100,000 for homes bought through the Specially Adapted Housing Grant. Returning veterans can also receive a $5,000 homestead exemption on their homes when they return from duty.
Veterans living with service-related disabilities also qualify for homestead exemption. The extent of this exemption depends on the severity of your disability.
Financial Bonuses for Veterans
If you have served in any of the following conflicts, you may be eligible for a $100 bonus when you leave active duty:
- The Korean War (1950-1953)
- The Vietnam War (1961-1973)
- Operation Frequent Wind in Vietnam (1975)
- The Persian Gulf War (1990-1995)
- The Global War on Terrorism (2001-present)
To qualify you also need to have received a service medal or honorable discharge from the military.
Vietnam Survivors Compensation
If you served in Vietnam and die from service-related injuries, you are entitled to $1,000 in compensation. Your family or loved ones will need to make an application for this in the event of your death.
If you served time in a prisoner of war camp in Southwest Asia from 1961, you may be entitled to POW compensation. This is $50 for each month that you spent in the POW camp.
Veteran Employment Benefits
Getting a job after leaving the military can help to create structure in your daily life. Illinois supports veterans looking for employment with a number of benefits.
Employment Preference for Veterans
If you are applying for a state job then you should know that veteran citizens in Illinois get preference. To qualify for this, you must have received an honorable discharge.
Police and Firefighter Requirement Waivers
Serving in the military equips you with a lot of valuable skills for a police officer or firefighter. Because of this, education requirements are waived for:
- Honorably discharged veterans with service medals from Afghanistan or Iraq who want to join the State Police
- Honorably discharged veterans with campaign medals who want to join the Conservation Police
- Honorably discharged veterans with 2 years of active duty who want to join the fire brigade
This can be a great place to start putting your military skills to good use in civilian life.
State Licenses and Credentials
Depending on your military experience, the licensing board may waive your testing and fees to become an EMR, CNA, EMT, or CDL.
Veteran Education Benefits
When you leave the military, you may want to take your career in an entirely new direction. In that case, there are loads of great education and training benefits on offer.
The Illinois Veterans’ Grant
An Illinois Veteran Grant can help you pay fees at state-supported colleges and universities in the state. To qualify, you have to:
- Have been honorably discharged
- Have lived in Illinois for 6 months or more before joining the military
- Have served for at least one full year
- Return to live in Illinois within 6 months of your discharge
The Illinois National Guard Grant
A grant from the Illinois National Guard can also cover tuition and administrative fees at public universities and colleges in the state. To qualify for this grant you must have:
- Served in the guard for no more than 10 years and accumulated up to 120 eligibility points, or
- Served in the guard for more than 10 years and accumulated up to 180 eligibility points
Support for Children of Veterans
If you have children, service-related disabilities can make it difficult to support their education. Because of this, Illinois offers a range of educational benefits to support dependents of veterans. These include:
- Financial aid for children aged 10-18 whose parent has died or become disabled in military duty
- MIA/POW scholarships for higher education courses
The state also awards one scholarship a year to the University of Illinois to a veteran’s child. This covers a four-year course at the university. You can find out more details about this opportunity from the university’s financial aid department.
Recreational Benefits for Illinois Veterans
Illinois offers free fishing and hunting licenses to disabled veterans. If you served abroad but do not have a disability, you may also be eligible for a half-price license.
The state also waives entry and camping fees for state parks. This offer lasts for the same length as your mobilized military career, starting from your discharge date.
Get Support From Illinois State Veteran Benefits Today
Illinois State Veteran Benefits can provide invaluable support to members of the military living in the state. So make the most of them — you’ve earned it!
If you are living with service-related injuries, you may also be able to get more support by making a VA claim. In that case, our veteran medical benefits advisor can help. Organize a free evaluation today to find out about making a VA claim.