Pennsylvania Veterans BenefitsUpdated September 8, 2021 Veterans Benefits
The state of Pennsylvania greatly values the service and sacrifice of its veterans living in the Keystone State. And while the federal government provides a wide variety of benefits to U.S. veterans and their families, the state of Pennsylvania has also put in place several state-level benefits designed to honor veterans and ease their transition to civilian life.
8 Major Benefits and Services for Pennsylvania Veterans
- Financial Assistance
- Education Benefits
- Veterans Homes
- Employment Benefits
- Burial & Memorial Benefits
- Outreach & Advocacy
- Federal Veterans Benefits
- Other State Benefits for Pennsylvania Veterans
Through its Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, the commonwealth of Pennsylvania seeks to increase awareness of all available benefits for Pennsylvania veterans and their dependents, to provide the best advice and assistance in obtaining these benefits, and to provide the highest quality care to residents of the state Veterans’ Homes.
Whether connecting veterans to federal-level benefits they’ve earned or administering state-level benefits for Pennsylvania residents, the commonwealth is committed to improving the quality of life for its veterans at every opportunity.
About Pennsylvania DMVA
The leading advocate for Pennsylvania veterans, the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs provides support and vital assistance to Pennsylvania's 800,000+ veterans and their families, along with providing quality care to the state’s aging veterans.
The DMVA also provides oversight and support for the members of the Pennsylvania National Guard. To achieve this two-part mission, the Pennsylvania DMVA provides support for veterans while also preparing the Pennsylvania National Guard for combat.
The Pennsylvania National Guard performs worldwide combat and combat support operations, providing global reach and the projection of U.S. military power in support of national objectives. When commanded by the governor, the Guard provides highly trained personnel to support state and local authorities during natural disasters or civil unrest.
A wide range of federal, state, and county benefits is available for qualified veterans and their families. Pennsylvania’s county-level Directors of Veterans Affairs can be a tremendous resource when it comes to information and assistance related to applying for these benefits.
Headquartered in Fort Indiantown Gap, the DMVA is one of Pennsylvania’s largest employers, boasting approximately 22,000 personnel in 90 communities across the commonwealth. The DMVA is overseen by an adjutant general, who is appointed by the governor for this cabinet-level position.
Pennsylvania currently is home to the fourth largest veterans community in the country, boasting more than 800,000 veteran residents. In fact, nearly 8% of Pennsylvania’s total population are U.S. military veterans.
The median household income for Pennsylvania veterans hovers around $55,000 per year, lower than the median across all Pennsylvania residents, which is roughly $62,000. Approximately 16% of Pennsylvania’s veterans have a VA-certified service-connected disability. Roughly 7% of Pennsylvania’s veterans live below the poverty line.
Pennsylvania Veterans Registry
The Pennsylvania Veterans Registry is an online application that helps veterans and their families connect with the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to request information about the vital state benefits, programs, and services provided by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
By connecting with the DMVA, veterans also may choose to receive ongoing communications such as the weekly DMVA DIGEST, breaking news, and other updates. The PA Veterans Registry is an important step in the DMVA’s long term strategy to better communicate with Pennsylvania’s veterans and partners across the commonwealth who support them.
8 Major Benefits and Services for Pennsylvania Veterans
In addition to veterans benefits available from the federal government, the state of Pennsylvania provides several additional state benefits. Let’s take a closer look at the major benefits and services the state of Pennsylvania offers its veterans.
1. Financial Assistance
Pennsylvania offers several benefits for the state’s veterans who have demonstrated financial need – below is a listing of some of the most impactful.
Military Family Relief Assistance Program
This program makes available Pennsylvania veterans emergency financial assistance grants to veterans who have a direct and immediate financial need that results from circumstances beyond their control.
This benefit also may extend to eligible family members. The amount of an individual grant is based on documented financial need up to a maximum of $3,500. Examples of need might include natural disasters, a sudden and unexpected loss of income, or the death of a spouse.
To qualify for the program, a veteran should have served 30 or more consecutive days of active duty with the U.S. Armed Forces or Reserve, or have served 30 or more consecutive days of state active duty in the Pennsylvania Army or Air National Guard. The veteran should be a member in good standing of a reserve organization associated with their branch of service for at least three years. Additional eligibility requirements exist for veterans who were discharged from service with an injury incurred in the line of duty.
Veterans Temporary Assistance
Pennsylvania’s Veterans Temporary Assistance program provides limited financial support for veterans and their families, intended to cover basic needs like food, shelter, fuel, clothing, and medical expenses.
Eligible veterans and their families may qualify for up to $1,600 within a 12-month period. To be eligible for this program, a veteran must show a financial need, including a need caused by loss of income or an unexpected increase in expenses that renders the veteran temporarily unable to cover living expenses without assistance.
Veterans must also have a military discharge type of either Honorable or Under Honorable Conditions, or must have a service-connected medical condition that the VA has previously rated as a 100% disability.
Amputee and Paralyzed Veterans Pension
Veterans in Pennsylvania who are paralyzed or who have had a limb amputated are eligible for a $150 per month financial benefit, as long as they meet eligibility criteria. Eligibility requirements include being honorably discharged or discharged under honorable conditions, entering the military as a resident of Pennsylvania, suffering a service-related injury or condition that resulted in the total loss or loss of use of two or more extremities, and having a disability compensation rating of at least 40% from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Blind Veterans Pension
Blind veterans living in Pennsylvania may be eligible for a pension of $150 per month if the following eligibility criteria are met:
- The veteran served honorably in any branch of the U.S. military
- The veteran was a resident of Pennsylvania when entering service
- The veteran experienced a service-related injury or disease that resulted in the loss of vision
Visual acuity with the best available corrective lens is 3/60 or 10/200 or equivalent, or less normal vision in the better eye. This includes instances where the widest diameter of the better eye’s visual field has contracted to an angular distance under 20 degrees.
Real Estate Tax Exemption for Disabled Veterans
Honorably discharged, 100% disabled veterans in Pennsylvania are eligible for real estate tax exemptions on all properties, including up to five acres of land, as long as they meet the program’s eligibility criteria.
Requirements include being blind or paraplegic, having suffered the loss of two or more limbs, or having a documented service-related disability that the VA has declared a total, permanent disability.
In addition, the veteran must be the sole real estate owner, and the veteran must occupy the property as their primary residence. To receive this benefit, a veteran will need to demonstrate financial need, and upon the veteran’s death, the tax benefit may transfer to an unmarried spouse as long as the financial need continues to be demonstrated.
2. Education Benefits
The commonwealth of Pennsylvania understands that one of the most important benefits for veterans is access to education benefits that help them earn degrees, certifications, and other technical training that helps them succeed in their post-military careers.
Pennsylvania is also committed to making sure the children and dependent survivors of veterans have appropriate educational opportunities and assistance. Below are some of the key educational benefits available to Pennsylvania veterans.
Educational Gratuity Program
Pennsylvania provides financial compensation for dependent children of honorably discharged veterans who have service-related disabilities and who served during a period of war or armed conflict. The state pays up to $500 per semester for up to eight semesters.
This benefit also extends to dependent children of veterans who died during wartime service. It’s important to note that for eligibility purposes, the veteran must have a disability rating from the VA of 100% and must have served within war service dates defined by the VA.
Dependent children who are eligible for the Educational Gratuity Program must be between the ages of 16 and 23, have resided in the state of Pennsylvania for at least five years prior to the submission date of their application, and must attend an approved school within the state. The applicant must also demonstrate financial need.
Education Assistance Program (National Guard)
Pennsylvania’s Education Assistance Program is a state-funded program that provides educational assistance for eligible members of the Pennsylvania National Guard. EAP funding can be awarded to veterans regardless of their demonstrated financial need.
Pennsylvania state grant amounts cannot be reduced as a result of a service member receiving EAP assistance. Individual award amounts will be based on enrollment status and tuition charged. However, the final amount is capped at the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education schools’ flat full-time tuition rate plus a technology fee, which is currently $4,097.00 per semester.
Funding through the EAP is limited to 10 full-time semesters or 120 part-time credits.
Military Family Education (National Guard)
The Pennsylvania GI Bill was signed into law in July of 2019 and authorized the development of the Military Family Education Program. This program allows spouses and dependent children of Pennsylvania National Guard members to attend college at either no cost or reduced cost.
A spouse may access an MFEP grant for up to six years after the veteran separates from service, and dependent children are required to use their MFEP benefits before reaching 26 years of age.
Under the Pennsylvania GI Bill, Pennsylvania National Guard members who are willing to serve an additional six years can receive five years of higher education benefits, in the form of grants, for their spouses and dependent children. The program will provide up to 10 semesters of tuition-free education for family members.
However, this benefit must be used at a Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency-approved institution or higher education, and the benefit is paid at the tuition rate set by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.
As long as the curriculum is approved by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, MFEP grants can be used in pursuit of a degree-granting curriculum, certificate-granting curriculum, course of study, or training program required for entrance into a specific career. MFEP grants first became payable during the 2020-2021 academic year.
3. Pennsylvania Veterans’ Homes
Pennsylvania offers eligible veterans and surviving spouses residency in one of its six extended-care facilities for veterans located across the state. Various levels of care include skilled nursing care, personal care, and memory care.
To qualify for residency in one of Pennsylvania’s veterans’ homes, a veteran must have been honorably discharged, served in the U.S. or Pennsylvania armed forces, and either be a current Pennsylvania resident or have been a resident of Pennsylvania at the time military service began.
Veterans’ centers across Pennsylvania are committed to encouraging an active lifestyle among the commonwealth’s veteran population. Each one offers a wide variety of activities for veterans to get involved with, from fishing tournaments and riverboat rides to cultural, artistic, and entertainment events and special veteran celebrations.
Details of each Pennsylvania veterans’ home are outlined below:
Hollidaysburg Veterans’ Home (Hollidaysburg)
The Hollidaysburg Veterans’ Home is Pennsylvania’s largest veterans’ home. Resting on 326 acres along the main Allegheny Mountain ridge, Hollidaysburg provides an accessible, yet tranquil and scenic location for senior living.
Many of the Hollidaysburg staff are veterans themselves, and the home regularly enjoys visits from current service members and representatives of local veteran service organizations.
Hollidaysburg offers skilled nursing care, personal care, and memory care and strives to tailor the care provided to each veteran’s particular needs, providing what they need to live an active and healthy life with as much independence as possible.
Pennsylvania Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home (Erie)
Situated on 26 acres overlooking Lake Erie, Pennsylvania Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home is the oldest of the commonwealth’s six veterans homes, serving as an important historical marker throughout Erie County since its opening in 1886. The Pennsylvania Soldiers’ and Sailor’s home provides all levels of care for its veteran community – personal care, skilled nursing care, and memory care.
Southeastern Veterans’ Center (Spring City)
The Southeastern Veterans’ Center is located along the Schuylkill River in Spring City and provides peaceful, scenic living for its veteran community, with the added benefit of being only 45 minutes from downtown Philadelphia. Offering memory care, skilled nursing care, and personal care.
The Southeastern Veterans’ Center also looks forward to the addition of adult day health care, slated for 2022. This addition represents a solution to finding appropriate and reliable daytime care for veterans and/or their spouses outside of the home. It will be the first ADHC program to open within any of Pennsylvania's six veterans’ homes.
Gino J. Merli Veterans’ Center (Scranton)
The Gino J. Merli Veterans’ Center is named for a World War II hero from northeastern Pennsylvania who received the National Medal of Honor. The Center is located in downtown Scranton and the Carol Ann Drazba Memorial, a tribute to one of eight Pennsylvania nurses killed during the Vietnam War.
The Center features a Wall of Honor display, showcasing the service of many Pennsylvania residents, and the Tags of Freedom display, which honors all the veterans who have called the Gino J. Merli Veterans’ Center their home.
Southwestern Veterans’ Center (Pittsburgh)
Pennsylvania’s Southwestern Veterans’ Center is located less than 10 miles from downtown Pittsburgh in Allegheny County.
Offering skilled nursing care and memory care, this center boasts 237 beds and has served Pennsylvania veterans since 1997, featuring a chapel, barber and beautician services, a canteen snack shop, and a library.
Delaware Valley Veterans’ Home (Philadelphia)
The Delaware Valley Veterans’ Home is located in northeast Philadelphia, directly adjacent to the 275-acre Benjamin Rush State Park and across the street from the Pennsylvania National Guard’s Southampton Armory.
Established in 2002, this center features 137 beds and offers both memory care and skilled nursing care. Plus, the easy access to downtown Philadelphia means residents can participate in field trips to attractions such as the Liberty Bell, the Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and Independence Hall. The Philadelphia Phillies, Eagles, 76ers, and Flyers professional sports games also are popular destinations.
Common Questions About Pennsylvania Veterans’ Homes
Below are some of the most common questions veterans may have regarding Pennsylvania’s veterans’ homes:
How do I qualify for residence in a Pennsylvania veterans’ home?
Any honorably discharged resident of Pennsylvania who served in any branch of the U.S. armed forces and/or the spouse of any eligible veteran can qualify for residence in a Pennsylvania veterans’ home.
Veterans from other states may be found eligible only in cases where Pennsylvania was listed as the home of record when the veteran entered into service. An applicant who is not a Pennsylvania resident will not be accepted if a resident of Pennsylvania is on a waiting list for admission.
How long does it take to get an admission decision?
The time it takes to review your application and reach a decision depends on a variety of factors, including the level of care required. Each Pennsylvania veterans home has its own admissions committee that will review applications and issue decisions regarding the level of required care.
Once an appropriate level of care is determined, the veterans home revenue office will define a veteran’s monthly maintenance fee for residence and care. This fee represents the portion of the total cost of care that the resident is responsible for paying. The total fee is determined by the amount the resident can afford to pay out of pocket.
When all steps in the process have been completed – pending bed availability – the veterans home either will admit the veteran or add them to the home’s waiting list.
How can I get a faster admission decision?
It’s important to work with your physician on submitting your application materials for any Pennsylvania veterans’ home. Your physician can help identify and provide your veterans’ home of choice with all appropriate medical documentation. The faster your physician’s office provides all appropriate information regarding your medical condition, the faster and smoother the process should be.
A veterans’ home admissions coordinator will be in touch to explain everything the veterans’ home needs you to submit. They will also let you know about any required financial documentation and provide an anticipated timeline.
How much does it cost to live in a Pennsylvania veterans’ home?
The cost of residence in a Pennsylvania veterans’ home is calculated based on the financial need of the specific veteran. For example, if the veteran has less than $126,420 in disposable assets, the cost-of-care is calculated at approximately 80% of gross income. However, if a veteran holds more than $126,420 in disposable assets, that veteran is charged the full cost of care.
Deductions to determine the cost of care for a single applicant include health insurance premiums like those for Medicare, Medicare Part D, and supplemental insurance policies. In contrast, deductions to determine the cost of care for a married applicant include health insurance premiums for the applicant only. Additional deductions for a spouse include homeowner or renter insurance, property taxes, and expenses associated with a mortgage or rent.
The staff of each veterans’ home automatically submits a Medicaid application for every admitted. If the applicant is approved for Medicaid and the Medicaid-based fee works in the veteran’s favor, the veteran will be placed on Pennsylvania Medicaid.
The total cost of care for skilled nursing across Pennsylvania’s six veterans’ homes averages out at approximately $9,000 per month for a veteran and $13,000 per month for a non-veteran. The full cost of care for personal care services for the home is roughly $5,000 per month for a veteran and $7,000 per month for a non-veteran.
It is important to note that less than 2% of all Pennsylvania veterans’ who reside in one of the commonwealth’s six veterans’ homes pay the entire cost of care.
The commonwealth of Pennsylvania also makes several different employment benefits available to its resident veterans, which are outlined below:
Veterans Preference in State Civil Service
According to Pennsylvania law, qualifying veterans must be given hiring preference when they apply for civil service jobs. The State Civil Service Commission conducts regular audits of employment changes to ensure compliance with this practice.
In addition, this same preference will be given to a surviving unmarried spouse of a deceased service member or the spouse of any veteran who has been classified by the VA as having a permanent, total, service-related disability.
Pennsylvania provides veterans with a wide range of employment support services, including referral services and job development support, through its PA CareerLink program. CareerLink representatives help veterans match their job skills to employer needs and current job openings, along with contacting potential employers on behalf of veterans for consideration in hiring.
Specific programs offered include translation services, education, training and job search services, and career plan development. Veterans can connect with job opportunities across the commonwealth that may fit their background, experience, and skills.
The PA CareerLink program places special emphasis on helping disabled veterans find employment. Disabled Veterans Outreach Program Specialists are embedded within the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh Veterans Administration regional offices. These specialists work to expedite the placement of disabled veterans who have completed training under the VA Vocational Rehabilitation and Education Program.
5. Burial & Memorial Benefits
Veterans across the commonwealth of Pennsylvania can be honored with several different types of burial and memorial benefits, as outlined below.
Burial Honors Program
Pennsylvania veterans may receive military honors for their funerals or burial services. These options can be discussed with any funeral director helping a family make burial arrangements, and the funeral director may request burial honors from the U.S. Department of Defense on the family’s behalf. In addition, Veterans Service Officers in each county across the commonwealth also can assist in planning and arranging burial honors through local Veterans Organizations.
Burial honors from the DoD entail folding and presenting a U.S. burial flag, along with the performance of "Taps."
In addition, Pennsylvania’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs offers stipends for organizations that provide burial honors at Pennsylvania’s three active national cemeteries: Indiantown Gap National Cemetery, National Cemetery of the Alleghenies, and Washington Crossing National Cemetery.
The commonwealth of Pennsylvania is home to three national veterans cemeteries that are maintained by The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies in Bridgeville, the Indiantown Gap National Cemetery in Annville, and the Washington Crossing National Cemetery in Newtown.
When a veteran is buried in one of these cemeteries, burial honors include a gravesite, a government headstone, a U.S. burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate. Funeral directors or county directors of veterans affairs can help families arrange burial at one of these cemeteries.
Military Awards for Valor
The U.S. Department of Defense maintains a database of service members who have been awarded the top military awards for valor: the Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Navy Cross, the Air Force Cross, and the Silver Star, each of which is given to recognize heroic service in the U.S. armed forces.
Pennsylvania also boasts a Medal of Honor Memorial, which is located behind the State Capitol in Harrisburg and lists the name of each Pennsylvania Medal of Honor recipient, dating back to the Civil War. The memorial is part of Soldiers' and Sailors' Grove, a formal tree-lined mall that serves as a memorial to all Pennsylvanians who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces or the Pennsylvania National Guard.
Pennsylvania Veterans’ Memorial
The Pennsylvania Veterans’ Memorial, located at the Indiantown Gap National Cemetery in Lebanon County, honors Pennsylvania’s veterans. This memorial was the first across the commonwealth of Pennsylvania to honor veterans of all eras from the Revolutionary War forward.
Maintained by Pennsylvania’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, it is the largest veterans’ memorial located in any of the 143 national cemeteries operated by the VA and is a point of pride for many across the commonwealth. The Memorial serves as an active, living reminder of the ideals and principles for which U.S. veterans throughout history have served, battled, and died for their country.
6. Outreach and Advocacy
The commonwealth of Pennsylvania takes seriously its responsibility to help improve the lives of its more than 800,000 veterans. The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs provides many ways to advocate for veterans and connect them to the services they need.
In recognition that the commonwealth always can better serve its veteran community, PA VETConnect represents an effort to determine the needs of veterans and their beneficiaries, find resources to meet those needs, and quickly and effectively connect veterans with those resources.
Through PA VETConnect, advocates for veterans can access the commonwealth’s premier information and referral database, which has been developed specifically to improve the lives of service members, veterans, and their families. The database contains vital information and resources that help County Directors of Veterans Affairs and other veteran advocates connect veterans and their families with the resources they need.
Specific resource areas include employment, VA benefits, homelessness, help with mental health and fighting substance use, financial assistance, treatment for traumatic brain disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, plus much more.
Veterans Service Officer Support
Pennsylvania’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs offers support to the state’s veterans, not only with their claims for state and federal benefits but also with many other needs that may arise.
Veterans may connect with an accredited Veterans Service Officer through any of the DMVA’s field offices. Please note that service organizations and VSOs do not require membership to provide claims assistance, nor will they ever charge a veteran for their services.
Veterans Mobile Outreach
Throughout Pennsylvania, accredited Veterans Service Officers use a series of mobile vans to provide information and assistance to veterans and their families – including connecting them with the full range of available benefits. Those benefits include, but aren’t limited to, VA health care benefits, VA disability compensation, improved pensions, education benefits, vocational rehabilitation, death pensions, and burial benefits.
These mobile outreach vans appear throughout the state at various events and observances, making a key effort to meet veterans where they are in order to make sure they’re aware of the benefits to which they’re due.
The Pennsylvania Veterans’ Trust Fund (VTF)
The mission of the Veterans’ Trust Fund is to assist and support Pennsylvania veterans and their families by issuing grants to charitable organizations across the commonwealth that then assist veterans, Veterans Service Organizations and County Directors of Veterans Affairs, all in support of making sure veterans in need of shelter and the basic necessities of living get the support they need.
The VTF raises money for these grants by selling “Honoring Our Veterans’ and Women Veteran” license plates through grants and gifts from public and private entities, as well as voluntary contributions from people applying for a driver’s license or registering their vehicle.
7. Federal Benefits From the Department of Veterans Affairs
Many federal benefits are available to Pennsylvania veterans from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. These benefits can provide tuition assistance, healthcare coverage, disability compensation, and other financial assistance and resources. Below are some of the most helpful VA benefits for veterans.
VA Disability Compensation
Veterans who suffer service-related medical illnesses or conditions may qualify for disability benefits from the VA. The medical condition typically must have occurred as a result of active duty service or have been intensified by active duty service to qualify for a disability rating.
Based on medical documentation provided with an initial benefits claim, the VA will determine the severity of your disability and assign you a disability rating. In some cases, veterans may be required to undergo additional medical examinations.
Conditions that commonly qualify for VA disability compensation include chronic pain, breathing, conditions, loss of a limb, mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder, hearing loss, vision loss, and chronic pain.
VA health care benefits include regular physicals, immunizations, and diagnostics at the most basic level. Some health care programs also may cover things like surgeries, acute care, health education, emergency care, treatment plans, and specialized care services. In addition, mental health programs and assisted living services also may be covered for eligible veterans.
The VA’s Military Sexual Trauma program allows veterans to receive disability compensation for documented mental and physical health conditions related to military sexual trauma suffered while serving in the U.S. military. As an added benefit, women veterans are eligible to receive specialized health care services through VA health care programs.
The Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs, or (CHAMPVA, is a health care program specifically designed to assist spouses and dependents of a veteran who died while in military service or currently is disabled.
The VA pension program supports wartime veterans and their survivors who have demonstrated financial need by providing tax-free monthly benefit payments based on age, disability, and income. VA pension benefits originally were established in 1818, when the Service Pension Law was passed. This law stated that every individual who served in the War for Independence and afterward needed financial assistance would receive a fixed pension for life. Since then, the pension program has seen some welcome changes, including adding surviving spouses and dependents as eligible recipients of VA pensions and developing programs that cover military service during times of peace – not just during times of conflict.
To be eligible for a VA pension, a veteran must have received any discharge other than dishonorable and must have a documented household annual income and net worth that fall within the guidelines set by Congress The current net worth limit for VA pension eligibility is $130,773.
Education and Training
The VA offers a wide range of education benefits that can help veterans and their families pay for college, vocational education programs, or training programs to effectively re-enter the workforce or continue to advance their careers. The GI Bill is one of the best-known VA education benefits, awarding financial aid for up to 36 months to help cover the cost of college tuition, books and supplies, or training programs. GI Bill benefits also may transfer to a dependent child or spouse.
The Montgomery GI Bill is an additional educational benefit for active duty service members or reserves, assisting with the cost of educational testing, tuition, on-the-job training, vocational programs, and more. There’s also the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which helps veterans pay for school or job training – this particular benefit is available to veterans who served on or after September 11, 2001, for at least 90 days of consistent active duty service.
Other VA education benefits conceived to lighten the financial burden associated with higher education for veterans and their families include the following:
- National Call to Service
- Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance
- Reserve Educational Assistance Program
- Post-Vietnam Era Educational Assistance Program
- Yellow Ribbon Program
- Veteran Readiness and Employment Program
The VA understands that the cost of higher education can be steep, and it is committed to providing resources and access not only for veterans but also for their families – including both spouses and dependents.
It’s important to find the program that offers the greatest benefit for your particular interests, area of study, and school of choice – especially since many of these programs cannot be used concurrently. This is where working with a Veterans Service Officer can be a tremendous benefit. A VSO’s expertise and knowledge can help steer you in the right direction.
Vocational Readiness and Employment
The VA’s Vocational Readiness and Employment program helps ease the transition from military life into civilian careers, focusing on U.S. veterans with service-related disabilities that might complicate their chances of finding employment.
Eligible veterans must have at least a 10% disability rating from the VA, and they can choose from five different tracks for education and training:
- Re-employment track
- Rapid access to Employment track
- Self-employment track
- Employment through long-term services track
- Independent living track
Services the program makes available include job training and resume development;
assistance with understanding employer incentives related to VR&E; skills and interests evaluations; independent living services, including guidance on adaptive housing and living grants; educational counseling and training; apprenticeships and on-the-job training; career counseling services and business counseling services.
VA Life Insurance
The VA offers six different life insurance plans for veterans and active-duty military personnel: Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance, Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance, Traumatic Injury Protection, Veterans’ Group Life Insurance, Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance, and Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance.
For veterans, one of the most applicable plan options is Veterans’ Group Life Insurance. You will need to register for this benefit within one year and 120 days of separating from military service. Please note that the longer you wait to apply, the more likely you are to be required to submit documentation supporting the fact that you currently are in good health.
Through VGLI, veterans can qualify for up to $400,000 in life insurance. There is a premium associated with VGLI, which depends on the amount of coverage you’d like, along with your age.
It’s important to the VA to ensure that U.S. veterans have access to affordable housing. Many veterans are eligible for VA home loans, which feature a more straightforward qualification process than traditional loans, no down payment requirements, no mortgage insurance requirement, and more affordable closing costs.
Even though VA loans still are issued by traditional lenders, these loans are backed by the government, which protects the lender from delinquency if the veteran for any reason cannot pay back the loan. As a result of this additional security, veterans get better interest rates and benefits because they are viewed as lower-risk borrowers than those receiving traditional loans.
To qualify for this benefit, the home being financed must be the veteran’s primary residence, plus meeting minimum safety and property requirements the VA has established.
VA Burial Benefits
America has a long history of posthumously honoring the service of U.S. military members, dating as far back as the Civil War. Today, the VA offers both monetary and non-monetary burial benefits that are available at no cost to veterans and their families. They include veteran and dependent burial in VA national cemeteries, burial allowances, memorial items, spouse and dependent benefits, and grief counseling.
To be eligible for VA burial benefits, a veteran must have received a discharge other than dishonorable. In addition, the veteran must meet at least one of the following requirements:
- The veteran died while a patient in a VA hospital or while receiving care under a VA contract.
- The veteran died as the result of a service-related disability.
- The veteran was receiving some type of VA compensation at the time of death.
- The veteran was eligible to receive VA compensation at the time of death but instead received either full military retirement or disability pay.
- The veteran died while traveling under proper authorization and at the VA’s expense or to or from medical treatment.
- The veteran had a pending claim for compensation at the time of death.
- The veteran died while a patient at a VA-approved state nursing home on or after Oct. 9, 1996.
Dependents and Survivor Benefits
Veterans’ survivors and dependents often have the opportunity to enroll in specialized programs that are designed to support them financially and academically. For example, through Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, families receive monthly compensation when a veteran dies in the line of duty because of a service-related disability or was totally disabled from a service-related disability before death.
Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance helps cover education expenses for children and spouses of fallen veterans or veterans who have received a permanent and total VA disability rating. The DEA program provides monthly compensation that varies depending on the type of training or educational program involved.
8. More State Benefits for Pennsylvania Veterans
Pennsylvania offers a few more benefits for the commonwealth’s veteran residents, which are outlined below.
Honoring Our Veterans License Plate
The “Honoring Our Veterans” license plate is available for motorcycles, passenger cars, and light trucks up to 10,000 pounds. The cost for the plate is $35, and $15 from the sale of each plate goes toward the Veterans’ Trust Fund. You do not need to be a veteran to purchase the “Honoring Our Veterans” license plate.
Pennsylvania residents also can choose to purchase the “Honoring Our Women Veterans” registration plate. While partial proceeds from the sale of this plate also go to the Veterans’ Trust Fund, this money is funneled specifically into programs the VTF funds to help women veterans.
Driver’s License/ID Card Veterans Designation
The Veterans Designation on Pennsylvania driver’s licenses and other state-issued ID cards identifies the bearer as a U.S. veteran who honorably served both the United States Nation and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Hunting & Fishing Licenses
Disabled veterans may be eligible for discounted or waived fees for hunting and fishing licenses in Pennsylvania. For a fee waiver on a hunting license, a veteran must have a total and permanent disability rating or have lost one or more limbs or the use of one or more limbs. In addition, the disability must be service-related, and the veteran must have served during a time of war or armed conflict.
When it comes to fishing licenses in Pennsylvania, veterans are eligible to have all fees waived if they meet the same criteria as those outlined above for hunting licenses. In addition, veterans who are totally blind or rated as 100% disabled by the VA qualify to have fishing license fees waived. Those meeting the same criteria, but with a disability rating of between 60 and 99%, are eligible to pay a reduced fee for fishing licenses.
Programs and Benefits for Pennsylvania Veterans
The commonwealth of Pennsylvania greatly values its veteran community, as evidenced by the array of support and services it offers. Whether you’re just moving to Pennsylvania or it’s been your home for years, it’s important to understand the full range of choices you have when it comes to claiming VA benefits that help you and your family transition from military to civilian life.
After reviewing the options here, you may want to reach out and connect with a VSO, who can advise you and guide your path through identifying and claiming the tremendous benefits you’ve earned through your service and sacrifice to your country.
Veterans Offices and Facilities in Pennsylvania
VBA – Pennsylvania Locations
|Pittsburgh Regional Office||1000 Liberty Avenue|
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
|Philadelphia Regional Office||5000 Wissahickon Avenue|
Philadelphia, PA 19144
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 8079
Philadelphia, PA 19101
|Carlisle Barracks||Army Community Services|
Building 46, Room 118
Carlisle, PA 17013
|Willow Grove||Fleet & Family Support Center|
Willow Grove, PA 19090
National Cemetery Administration – Pennsylvania Locations
|North Atlantic District||5000 Wissahickon Avenue|
Philadelphia, PA 19144
|Allegheny Cemetery Soldiers' Lot||4734 Butler Street|
Pittsburgh, PA 15201
|Ashland Cemetery Soldiers' Lot||630 South Hanover Street|
Carlisle, PA 17013
|Indiantown Gap National Cemetery||60 Indiantown Gap Road|
Annville, PA 17003-9618
|Mount Moriah Cemetery Naval Plot||62nd Street and Kingsessing Ave|
Philadelphia, PA 19142
|Mount Moriah Cemetery Soldiers' Lot||62nd Street and Kingsessing Ave|
Philadelphia, PA 19142
|National Cemetery of the Alleghenies||1158 Morgan Road|
Bridgeville, PA 15017
|Philadelphia National Cemetery||Haines St. and Limekiln Pike|
Philadelphia, PA 19138
|Prospect Hill Cemetery||700 North George Street|
York, PA 17404
|Washington Crossing National Cemetery||830 Highland Road|
Newtown, PA 18940
VHA – Pennsylvania Locations
|VISN 4: VA Healthcare||1010 Delafield Road|
Pittsburgh, PA 15215
|Coudersport||24 Maple View Lane, Suite 2|
Coudersport, PA 16915
|Wellsboro||1835 Shumway Hill Road|
Wellsboro, PA 16901
|VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System||University Drive|
Pittsburgh, PA 15240
|Altoona - James E. Van Zandt VA Medical Center||2907 Pleasant Valley Blvd|
Altoona, PA 16602-4377
|Butler VA Health Care System||353 North Duffy Road|
Butler, PA 16001-2480
|Coatesville VA Medical Center||1400 Black Horse Hill Road|
Coatesville, PA 19320-2096
|Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center||3900 Woodland Avenue|
Philadelphia, PA 19104
|Erie VA Medical Center||135 East 38th Street|
Erie, PA 16504
|Lebanon VA Medical Center||1700 South Lincoln Avenue|
Lebanon, PA 17042
|Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center||1111 East End Blvd|
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18711
|Philadelphia MultiService Center (Philadelphia County)||213-217 North 4th Street|
Philadelphia, PA 19106
|Allentown VA Outpatient Clinic (693B4)||3110 Hamilton Boulevard|
Allentown, PA 18103
|Armstrong County VA Outpatient Clinic||11 Hilltop Plaza|
Kittanning, PA 16201
|Beaver County Outpatient Clinic||300 Brighton Ave., Suite 110|
Rochester, PA 15074
|Berks County VA Clinic (595GD)||2762 Century Boulevard|
Wyomissing, PA 19610
|Clarion County VA Outpatient Clinic||56 Clarion Plaza, Suite 115|
Monroe Township, PA 16214
|Columbia County Outpatient Clinic||Alley Medical Center|
301 West Third Street
Berwick, PA 18603
|Cranberry Township VA Outpatient Clinic||900 Commonwealth Dr, Ste 900|
Cranberry Township, PA 16066
|Crawford County Primary Care Clinic||16954 Conneaut Lake Road|
Meadville, PA 16335
|Cumberland County VA Clinic (595GA)||5070 Ritter Road|
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055
|Delaware County VA Clinic (542GA)||4883 West Chester Pike|
Newtown Square, PA 19073
|DuBois (Clearfield County) VA Outpatient Clinic (503GB)||5690 Shaffer Road|
DuBois, PA 15801
|Fayette County Outpatient Clinic||627 Pittsburgh Road, Suite 2|
Uniontown, PA 15401
|Huntingdon County CBOC||13903 William Penn Highway|
Mapleton Depot, PA 17052
|Indiana County CBOC||1570 Oakland Avenue|
Indiana, PA 15701
|Johnstown VA Outpatient Clinic (Cambria County) (503GA)||598 Galleria Drive|
Johnstown, PA 15904
|Lancaster VA Clinic (595GC)||212 Willow Valley Lakes Dr #208|
Willow Street, PA 17584
|Lawrence County VA Outpatient Clinic||Ridgewood Professional Centre|
1750 New Butler Road
New Castle, PA 16101
|McKean County VA Clinic||14 Foster Brook Boulevard|
Bradford, PA 16701
|Mercer County VA Outpatient Clinic||295 N. Kerrwood Dr, Ste 110|
Hermitage, PA 16148
|Northampton County Outpatient Clinic||Phoebe Slate Belt|
Nursing Home & Rehab Center
701 Slate Belt Boulevard
Bangor, PA 18013-9341
|Sayre VA Outpatient Clinic (693GA)||1537 Elmira Street|
Sayre, PA 18840
|Schuylkill County VA Clinic (595GF)||1410 Laurel Blvd., Suite 2|
Pottsville, PA 17901
|Spring City VA Outpatient Clinic (542GE)||11 Independence Drive|
Spring City, PA 19475
|State College (Centre County) VA Outpatient Clinic (503GC)||2581 Clyde Avenue|
State College, PA 16801
|Tobyhanna Army Depot (693GC)||Building 220|
Tobyhanna, PA 18466
|Venango County VA Clinic||464 Allegheny Boulevard|
Franklin, PA 16323
|Victor J. Saracini VA Outpatient Clinic (Montgomery County)||433 Caredean Dr.|
Horsham, PA 19044
|Warren CBOC||3 Farm Colony Dr|
Warren, PA 16365
|Washington County Outpatient Clinic||95 West Beau Street, Suite 200|
Washington, PA 15301
|Wayne County Outpatient Clinic||600 Maple Ave. Suite 2|
Honesdale, PA 18431
|Westmoreland County Outpatient Clinic||5274 Rt 30 East, Suite 10|
Greensburg, PA 15601
|Williamsport OPC, Campus of Divine Providence Hospital (693GB)||1705 Warren Avenue|
Werner Building - Suite 304
Williamsport, PA 17701
|York VA Clinic (595GE)||2251 Eastern Blvd|
York, PA 17402
|Bucks County Vet Center||2 Canal's End Rd, Ste 201B|
Bristol, PA 19007
|Center City Philadelphia Vet Center||801 Arch Street Suite 502|
Philadelphia, PA 19107
|DuBois Vet Center||100 Meadow Lane, Suite 8|
DuBois, PA 15801
|Erie Vet Center||240 West 11th Street Suite 105|
Erie, PA 16501
|Harrisburg Vet Center||1500 North Second Street Suite 2|
Harrisburg, PA 17102
|Lancaster Vet Center||1817 Olde Homestead Ln, Ste 207|
Lancaster, PA 17601
|Norristown Vet Center||320 East Johnson Hwy, Suite 201|
Norristown, PA 19401
|Northeast Philadelphia Vet Center||101 East Olney Ave Suite C-7|
Philadelphia, PA 19120
|Pittsburgh Vet Center||2500 Baldwick Rd, Suite 15|
Pittsburgh, PA 15205
|Scranton Vet Center||1002 Pittston Ave.|
Scranton, PA 18505
|White Oak Vet Center||2001 Lincoln Way, Suite 280|
White Oak, PA 15131
|Williamsport Vet Center||49 East Fourth Street Suite 104|
Williamsport, PA 17701