Tennessee Veteran’s Benefits

Updated: December 24, 2022
In this Article

    Find Tennessee state and local Veteran’s benefits including education, employment, healthcare, tax breaks/exemptions, recreation and much more below. The Volunteer State is home to over 475,000 veterans that can access these great veterans benefits.

    Tennessee State Veteran Education Benefits

    Out-Of-State Tuition Waivers

    In 2014, the State of Tennessee changed its’ out-of-state tuition policies for publicly-funded colleges. All eligible Veterans classified as out-of-state students pay in-state tuition and fees instead of the out-of-state rates.

    The Tennessee Helping Heroes Grant

    This Tennessee veteran education grant offers eligible veterans $1,000 per semester for twelve (12) or more semester hours with no failing final grades. Also available, $500 per semester for successfully completing six to 11 semester hours with no failing final grades.

    These grants are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis to qualifying honorably discharged veterans (including Reserve or Tennessee Guard units called into active service) who meet the following criteria:

    • Tennessee resident for one year before applying
    • Awarded any of following on or after Sept. 11, 2001: Iraq Campaign Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
    • Enrolled or will enroll at an eligible 2-year or 4-year postsecondary institution
    • Have not earned a baccalaureate degree
    • Not be in default on a federal Title IV educational loan or Tennessee educational loan
    • Not owe a refund on a federal Title IV student financial aid program or a Tennessee student financial aid program
    • Be in compliance with federal drug-free rules and laws for receiving financial assistance;
      Not incarcerated

    Award of a Helping Heroes Grant shall be made after the completion of a semester, so long as the student successfully completes the course with a non-failing grade as the final grade for the course.

    Tennessee State Scholarships For Surviving Military Dependents and Surviving Spouses

    Qualifying surviving dependents under 23 years of age and surviving spouses residing in Tennessee may be entitled to receive free tuition and fees to any state-supported college. The service member must have died “as a direct result of injuries received or officially reported as being either a prisoner-of-war or missing-in-action while serving as a member of the Armed Forces during a qualifying period of armed conflict” according to the Tennessee Department Of Veterans Services official site.

    To claim these Tennessee state veteran education benefits, the surviving spouse or dependent must “present a certificate from the United States Government, and he/she cannot be receiving benefits under Public Law 634” or similar benefits.

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    Tennessee State Veteran Employment Benefits

    Veteran Preference For Tennessee State Jobs

    Qualifying veterans applying for state jobs may be offered priority placement for interviews for “preferred positions.” According to the State of Tennessee, “Veterans who meet the minimum qualifications for open state preferred positions are guaranteed an interview. Preferred Service employees hold a position in an agency in the state service, in which the employee has successfully completed the requisite probationary period”.

    Veterans (and other employees in the preferred service program) are offered a “streamlined appeals process for appreciation of a law, rule or policy by an agency which results in dismissal, demotion or certain suspensions”.

    Spouses and surviving spouses may be eligible to receive preference for interviews in the same manner if the spouse is registered to vote in Tennessee and/or has been a Tennessee resident for more than two years before applying, and:

    • The veteran was permanently and totally disabled or was 100% disabled due to service-connected disabilities, or
    • The veteran died while on active duty.

    Tennessee State Veteran Housing Benefits

    THDA Homeownership for the Brave

    Homeownership for the Brave is part of the THDA Great Choice Home Loan program. This is specifically offered to military borrowers who meet the qualifying criteria. Loans issued to vets under this program include:

    Veterans Assisted Care Homes And Nursing Homes

    The State of Tennessee operates four Veterans’ homes:

    • Brigadier General Wendell H. Gilbert Tennessee State Veterans Home, Clarksville
    • W.D. “Bill” Manning Tennessee State Veterans Home, Humboldt
    • Ben Atchley Tennessee State Veterans’ Home, Knoxville
    • Tennessee State Veterans Home-Murfreesboro

    Veterans who are entitled to medical treatment or other benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs are eligible to apply-depending on the facility applicants must also meet at least one of the following requirements:

    • A resident of Tennessee at time of admission to the facility
    • Born in Tennessee
    • Entered the U.S. Armed Forces in Tennessee
    • Tennessee address is official Home of Record
    • Has an immediate family member (Parent, Spouse, Sibling, or Child) or Legal Guardian who would serve as a primary caregiver, who is a resident of Tennessee

    Spouses, Widows, Widowers or Gold Star Parents may also be eligible for admission on a space-available basis. Supporting documentation will be required including VA award letters, DD Form 214, death certificates, etc.

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    Tennessee State Veteran Financial Benefits

    Tennessee State Property Tax Relief For Qualified Disabled Veterans

    Disabled veterans with qualifying VA-rated conditions and certain surviving spouses may be eligible for a property tax break up to $100,000 for primary residences only. The qualifying conditions for this property tax exemption include, but may not be limited to, one or more of the following:

    A service-connected disability that resulted in:

    • Paraplegia
    • Permanent paralysis of both legs and lower part of the body resulting from traumatic injury or disease to the spinal cord or brain
    • Loss, or loss of use of, two (2) or more limbs
    • Legal blindness
    • A VA-rated service-connected permanent and total disability or disabilities
    • A 100% total and permanent disability rating from the VA as a result of being a Prisoner of War

    Surviving spouses who are eligible for this property tax break are those who, at the time of the disabled veteran’s death, were eligible for disabled veterans’ property tax relief. The surviving spouse may apply for this veteran tax relief as long as the spouse:

    • Does not remarry
    • Solely or jointly owns the property for which tax relief is claimed
    • Uses the property for which tax relief is claimed exclusively as a home

    Over the years, changes to this tax relief program have included the addition of an income cap in 2015. Applicants should discuss the current rules of this tax relief program with a tax professional or state tax official to learn what current requirements and options may be.

    Motor Vehicle Sales Tax Exemptions For Combat Veterans

    Tennessee law exempts eligible combat veterans from paying sales tax on motor vehicles sold in Tennessee to members of the Tennessee National Guard or to members of the Reserve called into active military service, “who are stationed outside the United States during hostilities in which such person is actually engaged in combat”.

    Tennessee State County Motor Vehicle Privilege Tax Waiver For 100% Disabled Veterans and Ex-POWs

    Any veteran with a VA-rated 100% permanent and total disability from a service-connected cause, or any former prisoner-of-war, is exempt from Tennessee’s County Motor Vehicle Privilege Tax. Supporting documentation including VA paperwork is required.

    Tennessee Highways For Heroes Program

    Thanks to legislation passed by the Tennessee General Assembly in 2013, the state’s road skills test may be waived for qualified military personnel holding a military vehicle operator’s permit or approved equivalent and want to apply for a Tennessee Commercial Driver License (CDL).

    Regardless of military service, all applicants must pass the applicable CDL knowledge test. This skills test waiver may have a time limit for those who have been recently discharged; it’s best to explore this option as early as possible once leaving military service.

    Additional Tennessee State Veteran Benefits

    Driver License, ID Cards, and License Plates For Veterans

    Veterans may apply for Veteran-designated ID cards, drivers licenses, and license plates from the State of Tennessee, but there are no reduced fees or free options at the time of this writing. Disabled veterans are eligible for a free disabled driver placard/decal which can be added to an existing plate, specialty or otherwise.

    Tennessee State Recreational Benefits For Veterans

    There are several perks for veterans who wish to use Tennessee state public parks, campgrounds, and waterways. They include a Free Day (for all veterans) designated by the Department of Environment and Conservation as a day for vets to “access to and use of all state parks, including, but not limited to, campgrounds and golf courses…free of charge for all veterans”.

    Each veteran shall be required to show proof of veteran status, prior to being granted free admission to any state park. Veterans’ Day is usually the designated free day, proof of service is required.

    Special pricing for recreational licensing is another state perk for veterans. The State of Tennessee allows discounted sport-fishing and hunting licenses for veterans who are 100% permanently disabled, and combat veterans VA-rated at 30% disability or more. VA award letters and/or other proof of service may be required at application time.

    In the off-season, generally November through the end of March, there are discounted camping fees for all veterans who are residents of Tennessee. Specific rates may vary from place to place and are determined by the Tennessee State Parks Department.

    Tennessee State Burial Benefits For Veterans

    Eligible veterans may be interred at one of Tennessee’s state-run veteran cemeteries. The state operates four veteran cemeteries: two in Knoxville, one in Nashville, and one in Middle Tennessee. Who is eligible to be interred at one of these state-run facilities? According to the Tennessee Department of Veterans Services:

    • Any active duty Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard member discharged or released therefrom before Sept. 7, 1980, under conditions other than dishonorable.
    • Any military member who died while on active duty.
    • Any person who served on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States who entered active duty as an enlisted person after Sept. 7, 1980, and officers commissioned who entered active duty after Oct. 17, 1981, and whose discharge or separation from active military service was under “other than dishonorable'” conditions.
    • A veteran who saw their first tour of duty on or after the dates listed above may be eligible “if he or she completed a continuous period of active duty of at least 24 months or the full period for which called or ordered to active duty, whichever is shorter or was released because of a hardship discharge, or has a compensable service-connected disability or was released because of a service-connected disability”.

    Additional requirements may apply.

    Tennessee State Link to Veterans Services

    Written by Veteran.com Team