Montana Veteran’s Benefits

Updated: December 21, 2023
In this Article

    Find Montana state and local veteran’s benefits including education, employment, healthcare, tax breaks and exemptions, recreation and much more below. The Treasure State is home to more than 90,000 veterans. Learn more about all that Big Sky Country has to offer.

    Veteran Education Benefits

    Tuition Waivers

    Montana offers a variety of education benefits for veterans and their dependents.

    The Montana State Scholarship Program

    National Guard service members who attend college may receive scholarships through this program.

    In order to be eligible for this benefit, applicants must meet the following criteria:

    • Grade E1 through E7, WO1 through CW3, and O1 through O2
    • Serving a 6 year contract
    • Completed Individual Advanced Training; or
    • Basic Officer Leaders Course, with less than 16 years of service
    • Attending a state school
    • Working towards a Bachelor’s degree

    Honorably Discharged Veteran Tuition Waiver

    Veterans who attend college may be eligible for registration fee and tuition waivers.

    In order to be eligible for this benefit, applicants must meet the following criteria:

    • “Honorable” discharge (“General Under Honorable Conditions” is excluded)
    • Resident of Montana
    • Eligible for VA education benefits that have been exhausted or have expired, (excludes veterans who withdrew a portion of their VEAP contribution before benefits expired)

    Applicants must also meet one of the following criteria:

    • Undergraduate and graduate student who served during one of the following periods:
      • Dec. 7, 1941 to Dec. 31, 1946
      • June 22, 1950 to Jan. 31, 1955
      • Jan. 1, 1964 to May 7, 1975
    • Undergraduate student seeking an initial degree who has received an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for service after May 7, 1975
    • Undergraduate student seeking an initial degree who has received the Southwest Asia Service Medal for service in the Persian Gulf between Aug. 2, 1990 and April 11, 1991
    • Veteran undergraduate student seeking an initial degree who has received the Kosovo Campaign Medal
    • Veteran undergraduate student seeking an initial degree who served in a combat theatre in Afghanistan or Iraq after Sept. 11, 2001 and received one of the following honors:
      • Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
      • Afghanistan Campaign Medal
      • Iraq Campaign Medal

    Upon approval, this tuition waiver may cover a total of 12 semesters. Recipients must maintain adequate progress toward their degree.

    Free Tuition for Dependents

    Surviving Dependents of Montana National Guard Member Waiver: Montana offers tuition waivers to surviving spouses or children of Montana National Guard service members killed through injury, disease, or disability due to state active duty.

    War Orphans Waiver: Children under 25 years of age whose parent or parents have died due to injury, disease, or disability due to military service may be eligible for tuition waivers.

    In order to be eligible for this benefit, deceased veteran parents must meet the following criteria:

    • Montana resident upon entry into military service
    • On active duty during World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, the Iraq or Afghanistan conflicts
    • Killed in action
    • Died through injury, disease, or disability due to military service

    This waiver is subject to approval by the Commissioner of Higher Education.

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    Veteran Employment Benefits

    Veteran Hiring Preference

    Veterans who apply for public employment in Montana receive preference over non-veteran applicants:

    • Veterans receive a 5 percentage point preference
    • Disabled veterans and eligible dependents receive a 10 percentage point preference

    In order to be eligible for this benefit, applicants must meet the following criteria:

    • US citizen
    • Must meet the minimum qualifications required for the position

    This benefit may include a guaranteed job interview for qualified veterans who request preference.

    Veteran Housing Benefits

    Veterans Assisted Care Homes And Nursing Homes

    Montana has two nursing homes for veterans; the Eastern Montana Veterans Home, located in Glendive, and the Montana Veterans Home, located in Columbia Falls. Both homes are managed through the Montana Department of Health and Human Services, and both are certified through the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the VA.

    The Eastern Montana Veteran’s Home houses 80 intermediate/skilled-care beds and 16 beds in its Special Care Unit.

    In order to be eligible for this benefit, applicants must meet the following criteria:

    • Honorably discharged veteran
    • Spouse or surviving spouse of honorably discharged veteran

    The Columbia Falls Montana Veterans Home is certified through Medicare/Medicaid and the VA. It houses 12 residential self-care beds and 105 intermediate/skilled-care beds, as well as a memory care unit with 15 beds.

    In order to be eligible for this benefit, applicants must meet the following criteria:

    • Honorably discharged veteran
    • Qualifies for skilled/intermediate nursing care
    • Qualifies for residential self-care living

    Spouses may also be admitted if space is available. A veteran and their spouse may be admitted together if both qualify for either residential self-care or intermediate/skilled care.

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    Veteran Financial Benefits

    Military Retirement Pay Exemption

    If a Montana resident retired from the military, but is still working, their military retirement pay may be exempt of state income tax. To be eligible, the retired veteran must have either: 

    • Became a resident after June 30, 2023, or
    • Been a resident before receiving military retirement income and remained a resident after getting retirement pay

    The exemption is 50% of the military retirement income, or the total income made from other income sources in the state, whichever is less. The exemption is only available for up to five consecutive years after first being qualified for the benefit. It is set to expire in the tax year of 2033.

    Note: If a veteran began receiving military retirement benefits from a different state of residency before moving to Montana, that veteran would not be eligible for the tax exemption.

    Property Tax Exemption For Totally Disabled Veterans

    The Montana Department of Revenue runs the Disabled Veterans, (MDV), Assistance Program. This program helps veterans who are 100% disabled due to military service, or unremarried surviving spouses, through property tax reductions.

    In order to qualify for this benefit, applicants must meet the following criteria:

    • Verification of 100% disability due to military service through the VA
    • Own a home, either through mortgage or contract
    • Maintain this home as primary residence for a minimum of seven months per year

    Unremarried surviving spouses must supply verification from the VA showing either that:

    • The deceased veteran spouse died during active duty as a result of military service
    • The deceased veteran spouse died from a disability as a result of military service, with a disability rating of 100% at time of death

    Income and marital status also affect eligibility for this benefit, (this excludes capital income or loss). All income must be reported, including veterans benefits, Social Security, or any other non-taxable form of income. Veterans who own homes on either agricultural or forest land, the benefit will include the home and an area of one acre around it.

    Additional Veteran Benefits

    Vehicle Registration for Veterans

    Veterans and their unremarried surviving spouses may be eligible for exemption from registration fees for up to two non-commercial vehicles. In order to be eligible for this benefit, veterans and/or their unremarried surviving spouses must meet one of the following criteria:

    • POW or their unremarried surviving spouse.
    • Veteran who is currently rated 100% disabled due to military service or their unremarried surviving spouse.
    • Veteran who receives payment at the 100% disabled rate by the VA for disabilities due to military service; or their unremarried surviving spouse.
    • Veteran who has been awarded the Purple Heart, and who have been determined by the VA to be 50% or more disabled due to military service; or their unremarried surviving spouse.
    • The unremarried surviving spouse of a service member killed on active duty.
    • The unremarried surviving spouse of a service member or veteran who died from injury or disability due to military service.

    All situations must be verified in official documentation from the VA.

    License Plates and Parking Benefits

    Montana offers several license plates for qualifying veterans. Each plate imparts specific additional benefits to veterans:

    The Disabled Veteran license plate includes the following benefits:

    • A one-time $10 fee for plate production
    • No cemetery or annual renewal fee (motorcycle plates are exempt and require a $10 veterans cemetery fee)
    • The “DV” designation entitles disabled veterans to access disabled parking

    This benefit is not transferable to a surviving spouse.

    In order to qualify for this benefit, applicants must meet one of the following criteria:

    • Purple Heart recipient with a disability rating of 50% or more due to military service
    • Veteran with a disability rating of 100% due to military service
    • Veteran who is paid at the 100% disabled rate due to military service

    The Gold Star Family license plate includes the following benefits:

    • A one-time $10 fee for plate production
    • No veterans cemetery fees or renewal fees (motorcycle plates are exempt and require a $10 veterans cemetery fee)

    Family members eligible for a Gold Star Lapel Button may be eligible for these plates, but are still responsible for all motor vehicle, trailer, semitrailer, or pole trailer registration fees and special license plate fees.

    The Army Veteran license plate includes the following benefits:

    • A one-time $10 fee for plate production
    • A $10 cemetery fee and renewal fee (motorcycle plates require a $10 veterans cemetery fee)

    The Purple Heart Disabled Veteran license plate includes the following benefits:

    • A one-time $10 fee for plate production
    • A $10 cemetery fee and renewal fee (motorcycle plates require a $10 veterans cemetery fee)

    The Purple Heart license plate includes the following benefits:

    • A one-time $10 fee for plate production
    • A $10 cemetery fee and renewal fee (motorcycle plates require a $10 veterans cemetery fee)

    In order to be eligible for this benefit, applicants must provide the following:

    • VA verification of 50% or more disability rating and
    • Form DD-214 verifying receipt of Purple Heart

    Burial Benefits

    Montana Cemetery Fee Exemption: Veterans and their unremarried surviving spouses may be eligible for exemption from veterans cemetery fees.

    In order to be eligible for this benefit, veterans and/or their unremarried surviving spouses must meet one of the following criteria:

    • POW or their unremarried surviving spouse
    • Veteran who is currently rated 100% disabled due to military service or their unremarried surviving spouse
    • Veteran who receives payment at the 100% disabled rate by the VA for disabilities due to military service; or their unremarried surviving spouse
    • The unremarried surviving spouse of a service member killed on active duty
    • The unremarried surviving spouse of a service member or veteran who died from injury or disability due to military service

    Veterans Cemeteries

    There are three veterans cemeteries in Montana: Fort Harrison in Helena, Eastern Montana State Veterans Cemetery in Miles City, and Western Montana State Veterans Cemetery in Missoula.

    In order for a deceased veteran to be interred at any of these cemeteries, the following documents must be submitted:

    • A copy of death certificate
    • Discharge papers that indicate “Honorable” or “Under Honorable Conditions”
    • Burial transit permit for full body burial (provided by the mortuary) OR
    • Cremation certificate (provided by the mortuary)
    • Headstone application (completed by the funeral home or the cemetery sexton)

    Veterans are entitled to a headstone provided at government expense, whether they are interred in the state veterans cemetery or private cemetery.

    The following information will be inscribed on the headstone or marker at government expense:

    • Name of the deceased
    • Years of birth and death
    • Branch of service

    The following information may also be included at government expense upon request:

    • Military service component
    • Rank
    • Period of war service
    • Religious emblem
    • Valor awards
    • Purple Heart

    A fee of $115.00 will be charged to set the headstone. The deceased veteran’s county of residence will pay $70.00, and the family will pay the remaining $45.00. Non-residents must pay the full $115.00.

    In order for either the spouse of a veteran, or their child under the age of 21, to be interred at any of these cemeteries, the following documents must be submitted:

    • A copy of death certificate
    • The veteran’s discharge papers that indicate “Honorable” or “Under Honorable Conditions”
    • Burial transit permit for full body burial (provided by the mortuary) OR
    • Cremation certificate (provided by the mortuary)
    • Headstone application (completed by the funeral home or the cemetery sexton)

    There is a $500.00 fee for opening and closing of the grave for a spouse’s interment, and a headstone is provided at government expense. However, headstones are not provided at government expense if the spouse is interred in a private cemetery.

    Written by Veteran.com Team