What are the best veteran benefits across all states and territories in the United States? All states have certain benefits in common, but some offer better options than others.
What follows is a list of some of the best veteran benefits offered in an individual state–not all the benefits as they are too lengthy to include here, but those that specifically benefit veterans who have retired or separated from the military.
Some states seem more generous than others and in some locations the best veteran benefits in that particular state may be restricted to disabled vets or other groups within the veteran community.
Veteran benefits are subject to change and while all information in this article is accurate at press time, it’s good to check with your local state government official site, state-level Division of Veterans Affairs, Department of Veterans Affairs, etc. for the most current submission information, qualifications, etc.
Some sources that report on veteran-specific benefits note that the State of Alabama doesn’t offer much beyond the standard state veterans home programs, veteran license plates, and veteran driver’s licenses and state ID cards.
At press time this is true, the two most valuable veterans benefits offered by the State of Alabama include veteran service offices in 55 counties, created “…to assist veterans, their dependents, and survivors in the application and processing of claims for benefits and entitlements,” offered by both federal and state resources.
The second resource is the Alabama Executive Veterans Network, also known as AlaVetNet, which is intended to help veterans find services and resources “tailored to their unique needs” according to the official site.
The state benefits offered in Alaska aren’t as plentiful as in other states; the best veteran benefits in Alaska include real estate benefits to qualifying veterans.
The Alaska Housing Finance Corporation Veterans Mortgage program offers qualifying veterans lower-interest rate mortgages for primary residences which are “processed rapidly, require little or no down payment, and often include lower interest” than the options offered to non-veterans.
Another real estate-related Alaska veteran’s benefit called the Veterans Land Discount program provides a discount of up to 25% on the purchase price of state residential land or recreational land. The discount is offered once per veteran and cannot be used a second time.
This discount may not be used in conjunction with other veteran preference programs. Restrictions on purchase location and other guidelines will apply.
Arizona changed its laws in 2015 to allow veterans and dependents who have relocated to the state to qualify for immediate residency if they complete one or more of the following steps while residing in the State of Arizona:
- Registering to vote in Arizona
- Obtaining an Arizona driver license
- Registering a vehicle in the State of Arizona
- Working in Arizona
- Transfer of major banking services to Arizona
- Change of permanent address to Arizona
Having immediate residency in the state allows veterans to qualify for in-state tuition rates plus qualify for any other types of veteran assistance offered to state residents.
To qualify for immediate residency, applicants must be a veteran, spouse, or dependent of a veteran, that has been discharged within the last 36 months from a period of active duty that was 90 days or longer and who uses VA Chapter 30 or Chapter 33 benefits.
Some believe that the best benefits for veterans Arkansas has to offer is in-state tuition (regardless of where you live) offered to veterans attending state-supported colleges in Arkansas. Others believe it’s the state income tax exemption offered to Arkansas citizens drawing military retirement pay. A third-place finisher for some are the employment counseling and referral services offered to veterans through the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services.
For some veterans, education options for dependents is a major issue. California offers a benefit called the College Fee Waiver for Veteran Dependents which waives mandatory tuition and fees at any State of California Community College, California State University, or University of California campus.
Veterans with college-age children will appreciate this program but those interested in small business benefits should explore the CalVet Business License, Tax, and Fee Waiver benefit. This provides qualifying veterans with waivers for municipal, county, and state business license fees, taxes, and fees.
What kind of taxes and fees? Those that would otherwise apply to veterans who sell goods (not services) in a “fixed location” unrelated to alcohol sales. California also offers additional state veterans benefits and the CalVet Home Loan Program.
The State of Colorado has a reputation in some circles for being limited in the type of state veteran benefits available in spite of having significant military operations in the state.
At press time, we find nothing to change that reputation for veterans in general; there are some important resources offered to 100% VA-rated disabled veterans, and there is veteran hiring preference offered for federal, state, municipal jobs and Civil Service preference but these options are common to most states. Colorado also offers home loan programs through the Colorado Housing Finance Authority.
The State of Connecticut permits qualifying veterans to attend state-supported schools including universities tuition-free. The official site states, “tuition may be waived for qualified veterans attending the University of Connecticut, Connecticut State Universities and the 12 Community-Technical Colleges” for the cost of tuition but still requires book fees, activity fees, and room and board. To qualify the veteran must be admitted to a degree program.
Connecticut also offers property tax exemptions for veterans–as much as a $1,500 exemption for property tax purposes including automobiles. Those with qualifying income levels and disabled veterans may qualify for additional property tax exemptions.
Connecticut also offers a CHFA military mortgage option to reduce interest rates on loans for veterans and military service members loans.
Delaware employers are offered a tax credit for hiring veterans who served in “hostile environments” up to a maximum tax break of $1,500. The state also provides certain education benefits including options for the dependent children of veterans who are POWs, MIA, or who died as a result of military service.
Many of Delaware’s veteran benefits are designed for specific classes of vet rather than all veterans across the board. One exception is the Delaware 50% discount for state parks and recreational areas–veterans who own a motor vehicle registered in the state can qualify for the discount on annual park fees.
Delaware also offers home loan programs through the State Housing Authority.
Some sources complain about the Florida state veterans’ benefits guide as simply a reproduced set of federal benefits. It’s a fair criticism but there are some Florida state veteran benefits worth looking into.
One is fairly common among state-level veteran benefits. The State of Florida waives out-of-state tuition fees “for all honorably discharged veterans who reside in the state and who are enrolled in Florida public, post-secondary institutions” thanks to the Young Tuition Waiver Program. Out-of-state tuition and fee waivers are also provided to qualifying spouses and dependent children who reside in Florida using GI Bill benefits in the state.
Aside from these education benefits the State of Florida also offers the Salute our Soldiers Military Loan Program for veterans who want 30-year fixed-rate first mortgages (advertised on the State of Florida official site as offered “at a lower rate and with several down payment assistance options.”
Homebuyer education is required and income caps may apply.
The State of Georgia provides qualifying veterans the ability to apply for exemption from “any occupation tax, administrative fee, or regulatory fee imposed by local governments” for selling, peddling, practicing a profession or “semi-profession” for ten years as long as the following basic conditions are met:
- The veteran received a discharge “under honorable conditions”
- The veteran has a service-connected disability rating of 10% or higher
Veterans can start the claim process for this benefit via the Georgia Department of Veteran Service Atlanta field office. Vets will need a copy (never originals) of DD Form 214 or its equivalent for Guard or Reservists. Also required: a VA “Summary of Benefits” letter.
Applications should be delivered to the local County Probate Court Office which will, after review, issue a notarized letter confirming eligibility for this exemption program.
Georgia also offers a one-time, one year waiver for hunting and fishing license fees. After the free year expires, there is a lifetime discount offered to qualifying Georgia veterans.
Georgia veterans may also qualify for the Georgia Dream Program if they are first time home buyers.
The State of Hawaii Office of Veterans Services official site states clearly that, “Advocacy is the primary service offered by the office”. That advocacy consists of:
- Advocacy for Veterans concern(s)
- Short-term counseling
- Informational and referral
- VA claims, forms, and appeals assistance
- VA benefits assistance
- Burial assistance
If you are looking for benefits beyond the office taking action on your behalf “to secure appropriate rights, benefits, and services,” you may have to satisfy yourself with the following options:
Hawaii offers tax exemptions on primary residences and vehicles owned by “a totally disabled Veteran or their widow(er).” Tax exemptions on passenger vehicles are permitted when “owned by totally disabled Veterans and subsidized by the Dept. of Veterans Affairs” and may vary depending on location.
The State of Hawaii also offers a state registration fee waiver ($45 at press time and subject to change) when veterans register vehicles and the three following conditions apply:
- Applicant is a resident of Hawaii
- Applicant does not have a dishonorable discharge
- Applicant is VA-rated with a 100% service-connected disability
The State of Hawaii also provides state-level veteran burial services (dependents also qualify) in the Hawaii State Veterans’ Cemetery on Oahu or Veterans’ cemeteries on Hawaii, Kauai, Maui, Molokai or Lanai.
The State of Idaho offers the usual veteran designations (free on a new or renewed driver’s license or state ID), but the most utilitarian benefit the state offers is a financial assistance program for wartime vets.
This Idaho program offers grants up to one thousand dollars to those who have joined the military in Idaho, or lived within the state for at least 5 years. To qualify for this grant the emergency in question must have occurred within 90 days of the application.
The Illinois Veterans Grant (IVG) is one of the best veteran benefits within the State of Illinois. It pays tuition and fees at Illinois public colleges and is offered as an entitlement which means it is awarded regardless of the funding level offered by the State.
IVG grants can be used for undergraduate and graduate level for the equivalent of four academic years of full-time enrollment. Certain approved expenses for noncredit courses (that meet program requirements) may also be covered. The best part about IVG grants? Students who qualify for both IVG and Montgomery or Post-9/11 GI Bills may receive benefits from both programs during the same academic year.
The State of Indiana offers property tax breaks for qualifying disabled veterans but the most widely-available veteran benefit in Indiana is the Tuition And Fee Exemption program for qualifying students including:
- Children of qualifying veterans
- Purple Heart recipients
- Qualifying former students of Morton Memorial High School
This is an Indiana state aid program administered through the Indiana Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. Qualifying students are offered tuition exemption for up to 124 hours at approved state-supported schools. There is an eight year time limit to use the benefits once awarded and used for the first time. Completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is required each year the benefit is used.
Additionally, Indiana offers several home loan programs to assist veterans.
The State of Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs (a state-level agency, not the Federal agency) provides a $5,000 grant to home buyers purchasing property within the state. Qualifications include an active duty requirement (on or after Sept. 11, 2001) and the applicant must have purchased their home after March 10, 2005. The State of Iowa also offers program eligibility to those who served 90 days of active duty between Aug. 2, 1990 and April 6, 1991.
Iowa offers additional state veteran benefits including tuition assistance, employment preference, property tax exemptions and more.
Some military-themed websites complain about a lack of veteran benefits offered by the state of Kansas, and it’s no surprise why. The state offers a minimum of options for those who serve. Military retirement pay is not taxed by the state of Kansas, veterans can apply for vet designation on license plates, and qualifying disabled veterans are eligible for free or discounted access to public parks and other state-operated recreational areas.
The Commonwealth of Kentucky offers tuition waivers for the following qualifying residents:
- Children of qualifying veterans
- Stepchildren of qualifying veterans
- Surviving spouses
These tuition waivers are intended for, “any two-year, four-year or vocational technical schools that are operated and funded by the Kentucky Department of Education,” according to the official site. These waivers cannot be used at out-of-state institutions or private colleges.
Qualifying veterans are those who meet any of the following:
- Died on active duty
- Died as the result of a VA-rated service connected disability
- 100% service connected disabled
- Totally disabled (non-service connected) with wartime service as deemed by the VA or DoD
- Is deceased and lived in Kentucky at time of death and served during a wartime period
The servicemember must have been a Kentucky resident at the time of death but the applicant does not need to be a resident.
The state-level Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs provides financial assistance to military families experiencing financial hardship through the Military Family Assistance Fund (MFA). MFA can pay up to $10,000.00 for one claim per active-duty order in a twelve month period. Minimum military service requirements apply. Immediate family members of active duty servicemembers and veterans may also qualify.
The state of Maine offers 100% tax exemption for all military pension benefits, including survivor benefits. Previous exemptions included caps. Since 2016 there are no upper limits on this tax break. Additionally, veterans with civilian employee retirement plans “may continue to utilize the $10,000 pension exemption for qualifying retirement plans” according to the official site.
Veterans with a “permanent and total service connected disability rated 100%” by the VA are eligible to apply for a 100% exemption from property taxes. This can be applied for at any time and not necessarily by tax filing deadlines established each year. Surviving spouses may also qualify for this benefit. You must contact a local Maryland assessor’s office to apply or learn more.
Trying to locate information about veteran benefits on the Massachusetts state government official site? Good luck–information there is difficult to find and the following information was located in the Mass.gov blog;
The Department of Higher Education provides financial help for veterans including the following:
- Commonwealth of Massachusetts Tuition Waiver for any state college offers a tuition waiver to all veterans and active duty service members, “who are permanent and legal residents of Massachusetts”
- Tuition and fee waivers for active members of the Massachusetts National Guard attending a state university or college
- Veterans Workforce Investment Program, which funds short-term job training opportunities
In addition to education benefits, Massachusetts offers affordable alternatives through MassHousing Home Loan Programs.
Veterans who are Michigan residents and “who do not begin civilian employment immediately” after retiring or separating from the military may qualify for weekly unemployment compensation. This benefit is also offered to qualifying veterans attending school full-time. These benefits can be used at any state-supported college in Michigan.
Not to be confused with the federal GI Bill program, the state-level Minnesota GI Bill offers education benefits to eligible Minnesota Veterans, currently serving military, National Guard and Reserve members.
Qualifying military service is required–this program is offered to those who served after Sept. 11, 2001. It is also extended to qualifying spouses and dependent children.
There is a maximum benefit of $10,000 offered for use in licensing, OJT, apprenticeships, and higher education expenses. Veterans are described as those with honorable military service in “any branch of the United States armed forces at any time”.
Those who still serve and have been on duty for “five credible years or more cumulatively as a member of the Minnesota National Guard or any other active or reserve component of the United States armed forces, and any part of that service occurred on or after Sept. 11, 2001” also qualify. Certain surviving spouses and children may also be eligible to apply.
Under the Benefits tab at the Mississippi VA official site, you’ll find three listings: “Veteran License Plates” and Request DD 214. Under the “Programs” tab, you’ll find “State Veterans Homes”, “State Veterans Cemeteries”, and “Veteran Service Officers”. This state-level VA office provides basic-level information, but little else. Read our pages to learn more about Mississippi State Veterans Benefits and advantageous interest rates through the Veterans Home Purchase Board.
The Missouri Returning Heroes Act is a state law capping credit hour costs for qualifying military members. For undergrads this is capped at “no more than $50 per credit hour at public colleges and universities while enrolled in an undergraduate certificate or degree program after all other financial aid is taken into account”.
Veterans must maintain a minimum grade point average to continue receiving the benefit. For graduate students, the tuition must be “no more than 30% of the cost of tuition and fees at public colleges and universities while enrolled in a program leading to a graduate degree, including master and doctorate degrees, but not including professional degrees after all other financial aid is taken into account.”
Veterans must have qualifying military service in a “combat theater” but which can also include conditions such as receipt of combat service medals, or receipt of imminent danger, hostile fire pay, or related or tax benefits. Applicants must be eligible to register to vote in the state or be a current state resident.
The State of Montana offers 100% tuition waivers at approved state-supported schools. Qualifications for this program include the following: “This waiver shall not apply to persons who qualify for education stipends for other veterans’ benefits under Federal Law or Regulation and shall apply only to those who have at some time qualified for benefits but who are no longer eligible”.
Nebraska offers typical veteran benefits such as occupational license fee waivers, temporary licenses, and reduced license fees for certain occupations. A percentage of military retirement pay is exempt from state income tax. Nebraska also offers several home loan programs for veterans.
It can be tough to find good benefits for veterans on the State of Nevada official site, but one program does stand out; the Patriot Employer program operated by the state government. This program, “provides your business with education and support to help fill your team with employees who’ve already proven to be successful”. Patriot Employer helps veteran job seekers and hiring managers find one another. It also explains how employers can take advantage of tax credits offered in exchange for hiring veterans.
Nevada also offers the Home Is Possible for Heroes Program.
The state of New Hampshire offers $100 payments for those who have qualifying military service in combat. These are referred to as “war bonuses” and “service bonuses” depending on the era served. At press time, these bonuses are available to those who have served in Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, and the global war on terrorism.
The State of New Jersey offers a $6,000 tax exemption (in 2021, amount subject to change) on state income taxes, “…if you are a military veteran who was honorably discharged or released under honorable circumstances from active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States on or any time before the last day of the tax year,” according to the official site.
Military spouses are eligible in cases where a joint tax return is filed. Veterans cannot claim this exemption for a domestic partner or for dependents.
Qualifying veterans who own property in New Mexico may qualify for a state tax exemption up to $4,000 (including the community or joint property of legally married couples). Veterans who are 100% disabled may qualify for further tax breaks on state taxes.
Provisions are made for those who meet the requirements for these tax breaks, who do not have “sufficient real or personal property to claim the full property tax exemption”. These veterans “may be eligible to pay motor vehicle registration fees at two-thirds the rates charged on vehicles the veteran owns”. Discharge requirements apply.
Qualifying veterans in New York may be permitted to apply their military job experience as credit toward retirement when employed by the State. Veterans are encouraged to apply for this retirement credit but are also informed that there are also opportunities to purchase additional service credits toward a state pension.
North Carolina Scholarship Program offers scholarship funds for “eight academic semesters” at North Carolina colleges. This program is offered to the children of veterans who have died, are disabled, have experienced combat, and those who are or were POW/MIAs. The following requirements apply for this scholarship program:
- Applicants must be under the age of 25.
- The veteran’s qualifying criteria “must have occurred during a period of war”.
- At application time, the applicant must be a resident of North Carolina.
- The applicant must be living in the state.
- The veteran was a legal resident of North Carolina at time of entry into military service, OR the applicant was born in North Carolina and “has been a resident of North Carolina continuously since birth”.
The State of North Dakota offers a Veterans Aid Fund “to be used solely for the purpose of making loans to veterans or their widow/widowers,” according to the official site. Loans up to $5,000 are available. Veterans, National Guard members, and unremarried surviving spouses of a qualifying veteran are eligible if they have been state residents for at least a year and have the ability to make the monthly payments on these loans.
The loans feature terms ranging from six months to 48 months. According to the official site, “One half of the interest paid will be refunded provided the loan is repaid under the agreed upon terms.”
The State of Ohio administers a Military Injury Relief Fund which provides grants in the form of a one-time, tax-exempt payment to qualifying military service members injured on duty and/or with PTSD diagnoses on duty while serving or after Oct. 7, 2001. Proof of injury/diagnosis as well as proof of Ohio residency are required. Guard and Reserve members may qualify for this relief if activated under Title 10.
Ohio also offers discounted mortgage interest rates through the Ohio Heroes Program to qualifying veterans and service members.
Some would call the veterans benefits offered by the state of Oklahoma to be, compared to some states, a bit minimal. Oklahoma offers the following benefits for veterans as listed by the state government official site:
- Property Tax Exemption for Veterans rated 100% by the VA
- Sales Tax Exemption Letter for Veterans rated 100% by the VA
- Excise Tax Exemption Letter for Veterans rated 100% by the VA
- Military / Commissary ID Application
- Award Letter
Oregon is one of a handful of states that offer a veteran home loan program that is completely separate from the federal VA home loan program. Qualifying veterans can apply for fixed-rate mortgages for owner-occupied primary residences up to the Fannie Mae loan limit in the area where the home is purchased.
Applicants can use this benefit four times total in a lifetime. Qualifying military service criteria includes, but is not limited to having an honorable discharge (or “released under honorable conditions”) and minimum time-in-service requirements which vary depending on date of entry into military service.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania offers the dependent children of qualifying veterans with service-connected disabilities up to $500 in education assistance per term/semester (up to eight semesters).
The veteran must have served during a period of war to qualify. Furthermore, the veteran must have “a 100% permanent and total service-connected disability rating by the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs”. Applicant eligibility rules include being a Pennsylvania resident five years prior to application time and there must be a “demonstrable financial need”.
Pennsylvania also offers several home loan programs for veterans.
Rhode Island’s Office of Veterans Services provides minimal information on veteran benefits and services in the state. Tuition assistance and limited tuition exemptions are available to qualifying veterans, and in-state tuition is offered to qualifying active duty military and veterans who seek education at state-supported colleges “immediately upon establishing residence” in the state.
The South Carolina Department of Veterans Affairs (a state-level agency, not the federal VA) offers Free Tuition for qualifying dependent children of “certain military veterans” applying to or enrolled in a South Carolina state supported college. State residency requirements apply. This is basically a tuition waiver–no funds are disbursed.
South Dakota offers military service bonuses to veterans with qualifying service. Applicants must be legal residents of the state six months before qualifying active duty and who served, or are serving, on active duty during one or more of the following service eras:
- Aug. 2, 1990 to March 3, 1991
- March 4, 1991 to Dec. 31, 1992; Qualifying service must have been in a hostile area that earned a Southwest Asia Service Medal
- Jan. 1, 1993 to Sept. 10, 2001 – Only service in a hostile area qualifying for any campaign or service medal awarded for combat operations qualifies
- Sept. 11, 2001 to a date to be determined – All active service counts for payment
Qualifying military service from Aug. 2, 1990, to Dec. 31, 1992 earns a single $500 bonus. Veterans with service after Jan. 1, 1993, may qualify for a second bonus of up to $500.
The Department of Veterans Affairs official site states that the most popular veteran benefit in the State of Tennessee is property tax relief for qualifying 100%-disabled Veterans and their surviving spouses. This relief qualifies for as much as $175,000 of the property’s assessed value at press time.
Amounts are subject to change. This program is operated through the State Comptroller’s office and its Tax Relief section is responsible for approving applications.
Tennessee also offers benefits to qualifying veterans through Homeownership for the Brave, part of the Great Choice program.
The State of Texas offers its citizen veterans substantial education benefits thanks to the Hazelwood Act. This State of Texas benefit offers qualifying Veterans, spouses, and dependents with up to 150 hours of tuition exemption, including most fees at state-supported schools in Texas.
This program does not cover living expenses, supplies, or books. Applicants cannot be in default on student loans, the applicant must be a current Texas resident, and must have either designated Texas as the home of record. Entry into military service from Texas is also acceptable. Minimum service requirements (181 days of active service) apply and the applicant must have no remaining veteran education benefits.
Utah offers service members (active duty and reserve components alike) a property tax exemption. This program requires a minimum of 200 qualifying active service days which do not have to be served consecutively.
According to the official site, “The amount of the tax exemption is equal to the total taxable value of the claimant’s real property”. The exemption may be claimed as late as one year following the qualifying military service. There are similar (not necessarily identical) benefits offered to disabled veterans who are VA-rated at least 10%.
Utah also offers grants to first time homebuyers through the Veteran First Time Homebuyer Grant Program.
The Vermont Veteran Assistance Fund (VAF) is a program offering one-time payments to veterans and their families who qualify as being in a financial crisis.
VAF is administered by the Vermont Office of Veterans Affairs and up to $500 is available via phone application. Veterans must be Vermont residents to be approved for this financial assistance. There are also military hardship programs in the state designed to help families who are struggling financially during a servicemember’s deployment.
The Virginia Transition Assistance Program (VTAP) is a state-run option for veterans and their spouses. This program refers vets and spouses to resume review services, companies looking to hire veterans, and employment/entrepreneurial opportunities within the state. Another employment-related program, Virginia Values Veterans, offers connections between vets and certified companies and job sources.
Like many other states, Washington provides veteran preference hiring, but those who have dependents not ready to hit the job market full time should know that the Washington State Legislature has required state-run colleges and universities to waive all undergraduate tuition and fees for the dependents of qualifying veterans and reserve component members. This waiver is good for up to 200 credits per quarter or semester. A similar waiver for grad school credits is “encouraged”.
Washington also offers several home loan programs for qualifying veterans.
Non-resident West Virginia veterans who are eligible for the GI Bill qualify for in-state tuition regardless of state residency. This benefit is offered to those who enroll in a school program within three years of discharge from the military starting in July 2015.
The Wisconsin GI Bill, not to be confused with the federal Post 9/11 or Montgomery GI Bill, offers tuition forgiveness (full tuition and approved fees) to qualifying veterans and dependents for up to 128 credits or eight semesters (whichever is more) at any University of Wisconsin System or Wisconsin Technical College System school.
The waivers themselves are administered by the participating University of Wisconsin System institutions and the Wisconsin Technical Colleges. Applicants must go through a two-stage application where the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs initially certifies eligibility, then the college determines whether the applicant qualifies for admission to that school.
Wyoming offers state tax exemptions on a qualifying veteran’s primary residence. Exemptions up to $3,000 are possible and in cases where this state tax break is not used on real estate, “it may be applied to a vehicle’s licensing fee” according to the official site.
Applications must be made at a County Assessor’s office between the start of the new year and the fourth Monday in May. Veterans must be residents of Wyoming “three or more years prior to claiming the tax exemption and must have a DD Form 214 or equivalent”. Other requirements include qualifying military service during:
- World War II
- Korean War
- Vietnam War
- Other armed conflict where the applicant received and Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal or equivalent
Disabled veterans with VA-rated disabilities may also qualify.
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News
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