Colorado Veterans Benefits

Updated: November 4, 2022
In this Article

    Find Colorado state and local veteran’s benefits including employment, education, healthcare, tax deductions, recreation, veterans homes, financial assistance, and more below. The Centennial State has more than 400,000 veterans who can access Colorado’s veterans benefits.

    Colorado Veteran Education Benefits

    State Tuition Assistance

    Members of the Colorado National Guard may be eligible for up to 100% state tuition assistance at selected schools.

    Operation Recognition

    This program awards high school diplomas to veterans who served in World War II, and during the Korea and Vietnam eras. Veterans who left school to serve in one of those conflicts can receive a diploma through a number of participating schools.

    Veterans applying for this program must be at least 60 years of age, must not already have a high school diploma, and must reside in the school district of the school of application or have resided in the school district of the school of application when first leaving to serve in the Armed Forces.

    Colorado Veteran Employment Benefits

    Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA)

    DORA works to assist active duty, National Guard, veterans and spouses to transition from military duty to civilian professions. DORA helps to transfer military credentials to civilian Colorado credentials and also has programs to help active and veterans obtain licensing needed to bridge the gap between military experience and civilian professions.

    Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) resources for Veterans

    CDLE in partnership with American Job Centers offers a program where veterans can register and have access to a wide variety of job finding assistance and networking opportunities including:

    • Resume and cover letter help
    • Job search guidance
    • Licensure, certification and apprenticeship information
    • Veterans rights and priorities information
    • Referrals for job openings
    • Custom job development
    • Job fairs
    • Referrals for additional assistance from other agencies
    • AJC resource room access, for use of computers, fax machines, telephones, and copiers

    Vocational Rehabilitation

    Provides training and job assistance through counseling, testing, and monitoring for veterans with a disability. This typically covers the cost of employment services, school, and a monthly subsistence allowance.

    Basic eligibility includes veterans rated with 20% or greater employment handicap or 10% or greater serious employment handicap.

    Veterans’ Preference

    Colorado authorizes hiring preference for select employment opportunities for eligible veterans, including:

    • Veterans who served for a specified time period on active duty as defined by U.S Congress
    • Veterans who received a campaign badge or service medal during an authorized period of time of active duty service
    • Veterans who are receiving compensation or disability retirement benefits due to an injury that was inflicted during active duty service

    Career Assistance for Veterans

    Offers career assistance to eligible individuals at workforce center locations across the state. Locations are staffed with a local veteran’s employment representative qualified to assist with employment, training and placement services.

    VA Vocational Assistance

    The program is designed to assist veterans with personal job searches. It includes:

    • Job Club: A place to network with hiring employers and other veterans and learn about available employment services through local workforce centers.
    • Computer Lab: Provides basic computer/internet skills and assists with resume writing and online job searches.
    • One-on-One Assistance: Offers direct assistance with resumes, interviews, job searches and job referrals.

    Colorado Veteran Housing Benefits

    State Veteran Homes

    Colorado has five Veterans Community Living Centers in Fitzsimmons, Florence, Homelake, Rifle, and Walsenburg. These centers are open to applications from honorably discharged veterans, their spouses, and “gold-star” parents, or parents with children who died serving the Armed Forces.

    Services at these community centers include long-term care, short-term rehabilitation, domiciliary cottages similar to assisted living, memory care services, short-term “respite” care, and end-of-life/hospice services.

    Property Tax Deferral Program for Seniors and Active Military Personnel

    The Property Tax Deferral Program helps military personnel and seniors afford to live in their home by deferring property tax payments; the state treasurer’s office makes tax payments directly to the county on behalf of the participant through a loan logged as a lien against the participant’s property.

    CHFA Firststep & Firststep Plus

    Qualified veterans receive offers at affordable interest rates, a 30-year term and even an optional Colorado Housing Finance Authority (CHFA) Second Mortgage Loan to use for down payment and closing cost assistance.

    CHFA SmartStep and SmartStep Plus

    These CHFA loans are provided to veterans, first-time home buyers and non-first time buyers alike. VA mortgages are included in the list of eligible government-backed loan programs available via CHFA SmartStep/SmartStep Plus.

    Colorado Veteran Financial Benefits

    Income Tax on Active-Duty Pay

    Active-duty military who are stationed outside of Colorado are exempt from state income tax.

    Income Tax on Retired-Military Pay

    A portion of military retiree pay can excluded from income tax based on these qualifications:

    • 55-64 exclude up to $20,000 in retired military pay
    • 65 and older exclude up to $24,000 in retired military pay

    State Income-Tax Exemptions

    Disabled veterans rated at 100% as permanent and totally disabled and owning and occupying a home from the 1st of the year of application may apply for a 50% property tax exemption on the first $200,000 home value.

    Additional Colorado Veteran Benefits

    State-Sponsored Life Insurance (SSLI)

    Current active members of Colorado National Guard are automatically covered with $1,000 of SSLI at no charge. Additional coverage available at cost.

    Free Legal Self Help Clinic – Virtual Pro Clinic

    Free legal clinic conducted via computer link for individuals without attorneys. Volunteer attorneys can answer questions, help with forms, explain the process and procedural family law, civil litigation, property law, probate law, collections, appeals, landlord-tenant, veterans’ benefits and civil protection orders.

    Hunting and Fishing Licenses

    The Division of Parks and Wildlife in Colorado offers the following for veterans:

    • Free lifetime small-game hunting and fishing license combination for resident veterans with a permanent service-connected disability of 60% or more.
    • Free fishing license for armed forces members who are patients at a military hospital or convalescent station, any resident patient at a State USDVA hospital, or any permanently and totally disabled veterans.
    • Free admission to all state parks/recreation areas for veterans with a Disabled Veterans License Plate.

    Resident Fishing on Temporary Leave

    Active-duty Colorado residents stationed outside of the state may fish without a license while on temporary leave in Colorado; this benefit is only valid for 30 days and with proof of leave.

    Resident Rates for Fishing and Hunting Licenses

    Military personnel stationed in Colorado and family members may qualify to purchase hunting and fishing licenses at Colorado resident rates.

    Preference Points

    An active-duty member of the Armed Forces stationed in Colorado and deployed outside the U.S. during a hunting/fishing license application deadline period is eligible to apply for a preference point on a future hunt.

    Active-duty military members are exempt from the $25 preference point fee; in order to receive this benefit, members must first pay the fee and then submit a refund request.

    License Refund and Point Return if Deployed after Application

    Active-duty military members deployed overseas after applying for a hunting/fishing license who are unable to use it, are eligible for a license purchase refund and any preference point.

    Wounded Warrior Program

    The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission is authorized to issue free licenses to qualified members of the Wounded Warrior or Safe Harbor programs, Requirements to qualify are:

    • The member must be a Colorado resident/stationed in Colorado and an active member of the U.S. Armed Forces.
    • The member must be returning from a post-9/11 overseas contingency operation.
    • The member must be currently assigned to a military medical treatment facility.
    • The member must be a qualifying member of the Armed Services Wounded Warrior or Safe Harbor Program.

    Veteran’s Lifetime Combination Small Game Hunting/Fishing License

    Colorado residents that are disabled veterans can obtain a free Lifetime VA Combo license. Eligibility requirements are:

    • Proof of 60% or more VA rated service-connected disability.
    • Any person born on or after Jan. 1,1949, must have completed a hunter’s safety course to apply for a license.
    • Veterans who can prove receipt of Purple Heart are also eligible for the free lifetime Combo License.

    Parks and Recreation

    • Parks and Recreation Pass
      • Service members and Veterans can obtain a free admission pass for the month of August to any Colorado State park or recreation area. This pass is offered annually and only covers admissions; campgrounds, yurts, or other amenities/services are not included. This pass must be obtained in-person at ay CPW office or park.
    • Free State Park admission for Resident Disabled Veterans
      • Colorado residents with current Colorado Disabled Veteran license plates may enter Colorado State Parks free of charge and without a windshield pass; the vehicle must have plates and the Veteran must be present.
    • Columbine Annual Pass
      • The Columbine Annual Pass allows qualifying disabled persons, including qualifying disabled Veterans, entrance for one vehicle into most Colorado State Parks (additional fees may apply for some parks) for one year for only $14.00.
    • Discounted Camping
      • Disabled Veterans older than64 are eligible for discounted camping in State parks Sunday-Thursday excluding holidays.
    • YMCA Military Getaway Package
      • The YMCA at Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby, Colorado offers a Military Getaway Package to active duty and Reserves members.

    Licenses and ID Cards

    • License or ID military identifier
      • Military members and veterans may request a military identifier on their regular or commercial driver’s license or ID card.
    • License Extensions for Military Personnel
      • Colorado residents on active-duty military status may extend for three years without charge on their current driver’s license if stationed out of state. A letter from the service member’s commanding officer is required to request the extension.
    • Colorado Driver License Exemption
      • Out-of-state residents who are active-duty and stationed in Colorado and their spouses are exempted from having to obtain a Colorado driver‘s license if they have a valid out-of-state driver’s license. Out-of-state residents who are active-duty military may register their vehicle(s) in Colorado.

    Veteran License Plates

    • Disabled Veteran License Plates
      • Disabled veterans who meet requirements may apply for one free Disabled Veteran License Plate through the Division of Motor Vehicles.
    • Branch and Award Specific License Plates
      • Veteran’s may purchase a license plate displaying their service and/or award upon providing proof of service and/or proof of award or military medal to the local DMV office.

    Free RTD Bus and Rail Use

    Regional Transportation District (RTD) offers free rides on all RTD services for active-duty military members. Members must be in uniform or present driver with a valid military ID.

    Furniture and Delivery Vouchers

    Providers Resource ClearingHouse offers a service of delivering free donated furniture to veterans in need and their families. Requirements to apply for this service are an honorable discharge, DD214 and a valid ID.

    The Veterans Memorial Cemetery of Western Colorado

    The Veterans Memorial Cemetery of Western Colorado was opened in 2002 to provide a dignified place for Colorado veterans to be buried. Eligibility for burial in the cemetery requires Colorado residency as well as the requirements for Veteran Cemetery burial outlined by the Department of Veterans Affairs national cemeteries. All veteran burials are furnished, upon request, with a headstone free of charge.

    Other Cemeteries that offer Veteran burials are Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver and Fort Lyon National Cemetery in Las Anamas.

    National Guard Records

    Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Archives hold the military personnel records for:

    • Colorado Army National Guard retired and discharged members.
    • Colorado Air National Guard retired and discharged members.

    Documents Storage

    Veterans who listed Colorado for DD-214 storage can obtain a copy by calling 303-284-6077 and can also get free recording and certified copies of public records for veteran-related purposes such as birth, marriage, death, and divorce decrees through the local County Recorder’s Office.

    Important Links for Colorado Veterans’ Benefits

    Written by Team