Kentucky Veteran’s Benefits

Updated: December 24, 2022
In this Article

    Find Kentucky state and local veteran’s benefits including education, employment, healthcare, tax breaks/exemptions, recreation and much more below. Kentucky is officially a commonwealth, so we use “State of Kentucky” and “Commonwealth of Kentucky” interchangeably here. The Bluegrass State provides benefits for over 300,000 veterans.

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    Veteran Education Benefits

    Commonwealth of Kentucky College Tuition Waiver

    The Commonwealth of Kentucky provides a tuition waiver for qualifying military dependents including children, stepchildren, adopted children, spouses, and un-remarried widows & widowers of veterans who meet the tuition program requirements.

    This tuition waiver program applies to “any two-year, four-year or vocational-technical schools that are operated and funded by the Kentucky Department of Education” according to the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs official site.

    To qualify for this Kentucky state tuition waiver program the veteran must meet one or more of the following requirements:

    • The veteran died on active duty
    • The veteran died “as a direct result of a service-connected disability” as determined by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
    • The veteran was 100% service connected disabled
    • The veteran is rated as totally disabled (non-service connected) with wartime service
    • The veteran Is deceased and lived in KY at time of death and served during wartime

    In addition to these requirements, Kentucky residency is mandatory for both the veteran (at the time of death) and the dependent applying for the Kentucky tuition waiver program.

    Kentucky In-State Tuition Benefits for Non-Residents Attending On The Post 9/11 GI Bill

    Public universities in Kentucky are authorized to charge in-state tuition rates to veterans (including Guard and Reserve members) who are not state residents provided the veteran qualifies for benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

    Kentucky College “Active Duty Forgiveness” Program

    Students who are called to federal military active duty “shall not be discriminated against for absence, be credited with academic work accomplished, and given reasonable time to make up work” according to the Kentucky Commission On Veterans Affairs.

    Kentucky High School Diploma Program

    Started in 2002, the Kentucky High School Diploma Program offers a high school diploma to veterans who left high school to serve in World War Two, Korea, or Vietnam.

    Eligibility requirements include but may not be limited to being an Honorably discharged veteran who was enrolled but did not complete high school due to military service.

    Qualifying service periods include:

    • World War II: 7 December 1941 – 31 December 1946
    • Korean Conflict: 25 June 1950 – 27 July 1953
    • Vietnam War 5 August 1964 – 7 May 1975
    • If the veteran served in Vietnam before 5 August 1964, the eligibility period begins 28 February 1961

    Veterans or family members must complete an application (and submit a copy of the veteran’s discharge paperwork) online or by mail to:

    KDVA High School Diploma Program
    1111B Louisville Road
    Frankfort, KY 40601

    Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship Awards

    This program allows students who list Kentucky as the home of record and are also attending an out-of-state high school to qualify for KY educational excellence scholarship awards while their parents serve in uniform.

    Veteran Employment Benefits

    Kentucky Professional Licenses And Certification For Veterans

    The State of Kentucky provides a variety of options for those seeking professional certifications, licensure, or other qualifications. They include, but are not limited to, the following perks and programs, created or directed by Kentucky public law:

    Certification for Firefighters

    Kentucky has specific procedures for “accepting military training and service toward firefighter certification” to allow veterans to use their military experience toward civilian firefighting jobs.

    Kentucky Reciprocity Program for Emergency Medical Technician Certification

    The Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services will allow “direct reciprocity” for military training and or experience for initial certification in the state as an emergency medical technician.

    Commercial Driver’s License Skills Test Waiver

    The Commonwealth of Kentucky grants a waiver on the skills test portion of the commercial driver’s test for military service members with “recent experience operating commercial-sized motor vehicles”.

    Automatic Extension of Professional Certifications

    Kentucky offers qualifying active duty military members “any professional license or certificate renewal without payment of fees or obtaining continuing education”.

    Military Spouse Temporary Professional Licensure and Certification

    Qualifying military spouses who possess current professional licenses or certifications may transfer them to Kentucky and be issued a six-month temporary license.

    Kentucky Continuing Education Requirements Exemption for Licensed Engineers In The Military

    The state offers a waiver for continuing education requirements for qualifying military members who are licensed engineers and are on a military deployment.

    Kentucky Alternative Teacher Certification

    State of Kentucky public law allows veterans to obtain “alternative teaching certification” to teach elementary, secondary, and secondary vocational school.

    Kentucky License Requirements For HVAC Professionals

    Kentucky permits qualifying veterans or currently serving military members to include their military experience when applying for heating, ventilation and air conditioning licenses. There is also a provision for a 60-day period after the expiration of the current license to continue working while applying for a renewal.

    Veteran Housing Benefits

    Commonwealth of Kentucky Housing Grants For National Guard and Reserve Members

    The State of Kentucky offers grants to qualifying Guard and Reserve members, intended to reduce principal and interest payments on a mortgage (or rental). Requirements include listing Kentucky as the Home Of Record and serving on a deployment outside the United States.

    Under this program, the Kentucky Department of Military Affairs also provides qualifying military spouses “with website tools such as educational, technical, and ombudsman services to maintain a mortgage during federal active duty”

    Veterans Assisted Care Homes And Nursing Homes

    The Commonwealth of Kentucky operates four veteran centers and/or nursing homes:

    • Carl M Brashear Veterans Center, Radcliff
    • Eastern Kentucky Veterans Center, Hazard
    • Thompson-Hood Veterans Center, Wilmore
    • Western Kentucky Veterans Center, Hanson

    Admission requirements include residency, any military discharged other than Dishonorable, and the veteran must demonstrate a need for care. Services include, but may not be limited to:

    • 24-hour nursing care
    • Physician services
    • Physical therapy Pharmaceutical services
    • Laboratory services
    • Occupational and speech therapy
    • Dementia/Alzheimer’s care
    • Arts and crafts Activities 7 days per week
    • Wireless Internet
    • Library

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    Veteran Financial Benefits

    Kentucky State Income Tax Exemption For Resident Military Members

    The Commonwealth of Kentucky offers a military pay exemption from state income tax received by active duty or reserve components of the Armed Forces plus National Guard members.

    Kentucky State Income Tax Exemption For Death on Line of Military Duty

    The State of Kentucky “excludes all income from all sources for active duty and reserve members killed in the line of duty”, for the year of the service member’s death and the year prior. This Kentucky tax rule exempts “all federal and state death benefits payable to the estate or any beneficiaries” from state income tax.

    Kentucky Probate Fee Exemption

    Kentucky makes estate probate fees exempt for any “regular member of the Armed Forces”.

    Kentucky State Income Tax Return Extension for Service in A Combat Zone

    Kentucky allows service members to extend their state income tax filing while serving in a combat zone.

    Military Retirement Pay Partial Exemption From Kentucky State Income tax

    Eligible military retirees may deduct up to $41,110 of “total distributions from pensions, annuities, profit sharing, retirement, or employee savings plans.” Tax laws change frequently so you may need to check with the Kentucky Commission on Veterans Affairs or the local tax office to learn what the current exemptions and benefit may be.

    Kentucky Property Tax Exemption for 100% Disabled Veterans

    Kentucky offers a homestead tax exemption for veterans with 100% service-connected disabilities as rated by the Department of Veterans Affairs

    Kentucky State Tax Credit for National Guard Members

    Kentucky residents are eligible for a $20 tax credit if the taxpayer is a National Guard member at the end of the calendar year.

    Kentucky State Military Family Assistance Trust Fund

    Since 2006, the State of Kentucky offers trust fund assistance for qualifying military personnel and dependents for expenses that may be applicable at the end of a deployment. This program is managed by the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs.

    Kentucky Military Spouse Unemployment Benefits

    Qualifying military spouses in Kentucky have the right to receive Kentucky unemployment benefits for leaving work to accompany the military member when she or he is reassigned to a new location.

    Additional Veteran Benefits

    Kentucky Veteran License Plate Benefits

    The State of Kentucky offers a variety of perks and benefits for qualifying military members and veterans who need to renew or obtain license plates and meet DMV requirements. They include, but are not limited to, the following:

    No Annual Proof Required For Renewal Of Veterans And Retired Military License Plates

    Kentucky has eliminated a requirement that discharged and retired applicants for military license plates show proof of eligibility at renewal time.

    Drivers License Exceptions For 17-Year-Old Military Enlistees

    Kentucky state law exempts 17-year old enlistees from the requirement to obtain an intermediate drivers license.

    Kentucky Drivers License Renewal For Expired Licenses

    Kentucky allows currently serving military members to renew a drivers license by mail, and “exempts military from an expired license” within 90 days of return to the Commonwealth when serving out-of-state duty according to the Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs official site.

    Vehicle License Renewal Extension For Deployed Military Members

    Kentucky state law exempts deployed service members from citations for “driving a vehicle with expired registration” within 30 days of return (proof of deployment required). Qualifying military members are also exempted from late renewal penalties and property taxes. Renewal in such cases is prorated.

    Automatic Extension of Licenses, Permits, and Certifications

    Kentucky law provides an automatic extension of licenses, permits, or certifications which may expire while deployed overseas, plus free renewal for same within 90 days after coming home.

    Recreational Benefits For Veterans

    The State of Kentucky offers qualified disabled veterans a discount on hunting and fishing combo licenses via the Senior or Disabled Sportsman License program, open to a variety of qualifying ages and conditions that include residents of Kentucky who are VA-rated at 50% disabled or greater.

    The license discount is substantial compared to similar licenses at the regular fee. In order to apply for the discount, the veteran must first apply for a “disability authorization card” from the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.

    There is also a Kentucky State Park Overnight Accommodations Rate Exemption for overnight accommodations at any Kentucky State Park for resident veterans who are 100% disabled.

    Burial Benefits For Veterans

    The Commonwealth of Kentucky operates five veterans’ cemeteries in the state:

    • Kentucky Veterans Cemetery North
    • Kentucky Veterans Cemetery Central
    • Kentucky Veterans Cemetery West
    • Kentucky Veterans Cemetery South East
    • Kentucky Veterans Cemetery North East

    Kentucky state law requires citizenship to be buried at one of these veterans’ cemeteries. The veteran may have been born in Kentucky, served in Kentucky, or has the home of record listed as Kentucky for eligibility purposes. The veteran can have any military discharge not characterized as Dishonorable.

    Services at these state-run Kentucky veterans cemeteries include:

    • Furnishing grave or columbarium space
    • Opening and closing the grave
    • Perpetual care for the gravesite
    • Supplying the grave marker and/or headstone
    • Providing a grave liner for casket burials
    Written by Team