Welcome back to our series about VA benefits for veterans in each of America’s 50 states! This week, we’re focusing on Alaska and delving into some of the ways our veterans can benefit from residency there.
Keep reading to learn more about VA benefits in The Last Frontier.
The state of Alaska has one veterans home:
- Alaska Veterans & Pioneers Home in Palmer
Built and opened in 1971 in downtown Palmer, the Alaska Veterans & Pioneers Home offers stunning views of the Chugach and Talkeetna Mountain Ranges, as well as the Knik Glacier. There are eligibility requirements for admission, and these include:
- The veteran must be a resident of Alaska for a minimum of one year before applying.
- The veteran must be 60 years of age or older.
- The veteran must show need of the aid, benefit, or safety of the home.
There are two waitlists – Active and Inactive – and veterans can choose which list they’d like to be placed on when completing their initial admissions application. It’s also possible to switch lists after applying.
Fort Richardson National Cemetery
Located in Fort Richardson, this cemetery follows the rules of the National Cemetery Association.
- Any veteran of the armed forces who received a discharge other than dishonorable and who has met the minimum active-duty service requirement is eligible to be interred here.
- A spouse, widow or widower, minor dependents, and in certain cases, disabled, unmarried adult children may be eligible.
- Spouses and children who precede the veteran in death may also be eligible to be buried here.
- Any member of the Reserve forces who die while on active or training duty or was eligible for retirement pay may also be interred.
Tax Benefits for Veterans
Alaska provides an important tax benefit for its veterans:
- Exemptions on Property Tax
Any veteran who owns a home and has a disability rating of 50% or more is eligible to receive a tax exemption on the first $150,000 of the assessed value of their home. Should the veteran pass away, leaving a spouse who is at least 60 years old, the exemption will pass to them.
Employment Benefits for Veterans
Veterans in Alaska can take advantage of three main employment benefits:
- State Employment Preference
The state may give veterans a five percent point advantage when applying for a state government position, assuming all other qualifications are met. If the veteran is disabled or a former POW, they will receive a 10 percent point advantage.
- Waiver of Commercial Driving Skills Test
If a veteran has recent military commercial vehicle experience, the Alaska DMV may waive the commercial driving test.
- Military Credit for State Retirement
A veteran and Alaska state employee may be able to purchase up to five years of military time to put toward a retirement fund.
Education Benefits for Veterans
Alaska provides one education for benefits and their dependents:
- Tuition Waiver for Surviving Spouse or Dependent
The University of Alaska offers a surviving spouse or dependent of a military member who is classified as a POW or who has died in active duty, a waiver for undergraduate fees and tuition.
Housing Benefits for Veterans
There are two main housing benefits for veterans in Alaska:
- Veterans Housing and Residential Loans
Any veteran or active-duty personnel are eligible for the Veterans Mortgage Program for home financing at low-interest rates. Through this program, loans require little or no down payment, but the veteran must qualify for a regular bank loan. The program does have income limits but allows veterans to take advantage of a one percent rate reduction on the first $50,000 of their loan amount.
- Veterans Land Discount/Purchase Preference
In Alaska, the Veterans Land Sale Preference states that a veteran has the right to purchase unoccupied residential land by auction or restricted sale at fair market value before the public has that chance. When land owned by the state is up for sale, this program gives veterans a price discount of 25%. Note that the discount comes with a “one-time use during veteran’s lifetime” rule.
Recreation Benefits for Veterans
Veterans can take advantage of four different recreation benefits in Alaska:
- State Camping Passes: Any disabled veteran is eligible to receive an Alaska State Park Camping Pass at no charge. The pass enables access to developed campgrounds in the State Park System for two years.
- Ride the Rails Discount: Any active-duty member, veteran, and dependents are eligible for a 20% discount off ticket prices with a proper ID.
- Alaska Marine Highway System: Any veteran with a service-connected disability can receive reduced travel rates on any AMHS vessel. Veterans may travel at 50% of the regular price, but it’s important to note that the discount doesn’t apply to a veteran’s vehicle or accommodations. This pass is made available year-round and is accepted at all ports in Alaska.
- Hunting & Fishing Licenses: Any military member stationed in Alaska (and their dependents) is eligible for hunting and fishing licenses at resident rates. Alaska Reserves and National Guard are eligible for hunting licenses free of charge. Any veteran with at least 12 consecutive months of Alaskan residency who has received an honorable discharge and who has a disability rating of at least 50% is also eligible for hunting and fishing licenses at no charge.