In addition to federal veterans benefits available through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), there are state veterans benefits available to Tennessee residents through the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs.
Educational Benefits for Tennessee Veterans
Certain veterans and their dependents are eligible for educational grants or free tuition at state colleges.
Helping Heroes Grant for Veterans
The Helping Heroes Grant is available annually to up to 375 veterans. It is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. The grant is for $1,000 for veterans who successfully complete twelve or more credits each semester. Eligibility requires receipt one of the following medals:
- Iraq Campaign Medal
- Afghanistan Campaign Medal, or
- Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal.
For more information, including how to apply for the grant, see the Helping Heroes Grant Program guidelines.
Free Tuition and Fees for Veterans Dependents
A dependent child of a veteran who is below age 23, or a spouse of a veteran, is entitled to free tuition and fees at a state college or university if the veteran:
- was, or is, a prisoner of war (POW) or missing in action (MIA) or was killed or died due to injuries incurred while on active duty
- was serving during a time of armed conflict, and
- served honorably.
To be eligible, the child or spouse cannot be receiving similar educational benefits from the federal government and must be a Tennessee resident.
This program covers admissions fees, tuition, maintenance fees, student activity fees, and registration or matriculation fees. Contact the financial aid office at the educational institution you are planning to attend for more information.
Early Course Registration for Combat Veterans
A combat veteran of the U.S. military who is currently a Tennessee resident, who was a resident at the time of entry into service, and is enrolled at public college or university, is entitled to early registration for courses at that institution. This registration happens before the rest of the student body and follows the same process as that used for honor students, disabled students, and student athletes.
High School Diplomas for War Veterans
Veterans whose high school education was not completed due to service in World War I, World War II, the Korean War or the Vietnam War are eligible to receive a high school diploma. Veterans do not have to be residents of Tennessee when they request the diploma. If a veteran is deceased, a surviving family member can request the diploma on the veterans’ behalf.
Instructions for requesting an honorary high school diploma are available online.
Veterans Preference for State Jobs
Veterans are eligible to receive preference for receiving interviews for original job appointments and promotions. If another candidate has the same qualifications, hiring preference will be given to the veteran. If a non-veteran is hired over a veteran, the hiring manager must explain the reason for the hiring decision in writing and allow the veteran to read it. Also, if there are layoffs, veterans will get an additional sixty months of credit added to their time of service.
Spouses and surviving spouses of veterans will also receive preference for interviews if the spouse is registered to vote in Tennessee or has been a resident for more than two years before applying, and:
- the veteran was permanently and totally disabled or was 100% disabled due to service-connected disabilities, or
- the veteran died while on active duty.
Surviving spouses are not eligible for the job preference if they remarry.
Property Tax Exemption for Disabled Veterans
Disabled veterans are eligible for a property tax exemption if they have a service-connected disability that has led to one of the following:
- both legs are permanently paralyzed as well as all of the lower body, caused by a traumatic injury or spinal cord or brain disease
- loss, or loss of use of, two or more limbs, or
- legal blindness.
Disabled veterans are also eligible if they have a service-connected disability that is permanent and total according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or are 100% disabled as a result of a disability incurred while a prisoner of war (POW).
The property tax exemption is available for a home owned by the veteran and used as the primary residence. The tax exemption will be available for up to $175,000 of the market value of the home.
To apply for tax exemption, contact your County Service Officer or the local Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs Field Office.
For more information, read the Fact Sheet on Property Tax Relief for Disabled Veteran Homeowners.
Tennessee Fallen Heroes Medal
Beginning July 1, 2011, the Tennessee Fallen Heroes Medal is available for family members of military veterans who were Tennessee residents. The medal is awarded to the immediate surviving family member.
Eligible deceased veterans:
- served during an action against a U.S. enemy
- provided military support during a conflict with a foreign enemy
- served in an armed conflict with an ally of the United States, or
- served in a combat zone.
We've discussed the most valuable benefits for Tennessee veterans, but for a discussion of all state benefits available to veterans, visit the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs website.