Welcome back to our series about VA benefits for veterans in each of America’s 50 states! This week, we break down the ways our veterans can benefit from residency in California. Keep reading to learn more about VA benefits in The Golden State.
There are eight veterans’ homes throughout the state of California. They’re located in the following cities:
- Chula Vista
- West Los Angeles
These homes offer independent and assisted living options and provide memory care and skilled nursing for veterans 55 and older who were given an honorable discharge. An application for admission is required and the age requirement is waived in the case of homeless veterans who need long-term care. Admission applications and more information can be found at https://www.calvet.ca.gov.
State Veterans Cemeteries
California is home to three state veterans’ cemeteries:
- California Central Coast Veterans’ Cemetery in Seaside
- Northern California Veterans’ Cemetery in Igo
- Yountville Veterans’ Cemetery in Yountville
Note that the Yountville location only accepts interment of the Yountville veterans home residents and any eligible dependents they may have.
Interment at the other locations is entirely fee-free for veterans but does cost $500 for dependents. Those who meet the VA eligibility requirements are eligible for interment.
Veterans in California can take advantage of a whole host of financial benefits:
- California Income Tax
Active-duty residents of California are exempt from paying state income taxes if they are stationed outside the state.
- Property Tax Exemption
The state of California provides veterans and spouses of deceased veterans a $4,000 real property or personal property exemption. Not that someone owning property valued at $5,000 or more is not eligible for this benefit.
- Disabled Veterans Property Tax Exemption
A property tax exemption is available for any veteran with a 100% disability rating or an unmarried spouse of a deceased veteran who was disabled. Two exemptions exist, a basic one and a low-income one. Homes qualify for one exemption only and there is no personal wealth restriction. To learn more, please visit the link above or contact your local accessor’s office.
- Home & Farm Loans
The state of California offers home, mobile home, home improvement, farm, construction, and rehabilitation loans to disabled veterans with an honorable discharge. Rates are highly competitive and application processing is quick. These loans also provide flood, earthquake, and disaster coverage.
- Motor Vehicle Registration Fee Waiver
All ex-POWs, Medal of Honor recipients, and some permanently disabled veterans are eligible to have vehicle registration fees and license plate fees waived. This applies to one vehicle, one motorcycle, or one commercial vehicle with a weight of less than 8,000 pounds.
- Business License, Tax, & Fee Waiver
Any veteran holding an honorable discharge who sells goods from a fixed location may be eligible to have municipal, county, and state business license fees waived. Note that this benefit does not apply to the sale of alcohol.
- California Military Family Relief Fund
The California Military Family Relief Fund (CMFRF) provides short-term financial assistance to California National Guard members and/or families who are impacted by deployment. Funds are issued in the form of grants.
There are a few employment benefits that California veterans can take advantage of:
- Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)
Active-duty service members and veterans who held a military position requiring them to operate a military vehicle that is equivalent to a civilian commercial vehicle may be eligible for exemption from the licensing exam.
- California Veterans Employment Preference
All honorably discharged veterans and their spouses or the surviving spouses of veterans. Those who are 100% disabled are ranked higher on the eligibility list after passing the exam for state employment.
- Disabled Veteran State Contract Preference
California’s Disabled Veterans Business Enterprise (DVBE) supports small businesses that are wholly or partially owned by disabled veterans when competing for state contracts.
California provides two main education benefits for veterans and/or their dependents:
- California National Guard Education Assistance
This program covers all or a portion of the costs for education at select state universities and community colleges throughout the state of California. To remain eligible, service members must remain active in the California National Guard and meet certain GPA, program, and enrollment requirements. Please visit the link above for more information about additional requirements.
- California College Tuition Fee Waiver
This program provides a system-wide tuition fee waiver at CSU and UC campuses, as well as community colleges. There are four different classes of eligibility, and you can learn more about each of them at the link above.
There are two recreation benefits for California veterans to take advantage of:
- State Parks & Recreation Pass
Any California veteran who has an honorable discharge and a disability rating of at least 50%, is a former POW or a Medal of Honor recipient is eligible for a pass to all California State Parks free of charge. The pass includes camping and one-day uses.
- Hunting & Fishing Licenses
Veterans with a disability rating of at least 50% are eligible for reduced fees on annual fishing and hunting licenses. This benefit does not require California residency.