Like A Second Job

Jackson recommends visiting the VA benefits website ( for benefits from education, training to loan information, to employment help and health-care benefits.

Bruer adds that veterans need to have an advocate or representative of some sort in the American Legion or in their congressman’s office. “One of the best resources for veteran’s benefits is getting to know your local VA representative, Bruer adds. “Most counties pay for that. It’s not a federal thing, it’s not even a state thing. It’s a county thing. So most counties have a veteran’s services officer.”

It’s such a disjointed and confusing system, Bruer says. “It’s almost like a second job trying to figure out what you’re entitled to.”       

The post-9/11 GI Bill will cover all in-state tuition and fees for up to four years at public schools and also offers certain maximums per year for private schools and out-of-state schools (it was $23,671 for the 2018-2019 academic year). But there are other perks as well—an unused portion of the benefit (up to 36 months) can be transferred to spouses for vets who have served six years and commit to four more. After 10 years, a veteran’s children can use the benefit as well. 

Veterans also get job help and also job preference, according to their different “scores” in the U.S. government federal civil service. Under the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 (Veterans Opportunity to Work), active-duty military members can be treated as veterans in their job searches, since many start looking for work before they’ve separated from service.

There are also tax breaks that disabled veterans are entitled too, says advisor Chris Jackson, who also works with veterans and military widows.

“The VA may determine retroactively that you were entitled to additional disability benefits that were already reported in prior years as taxable pension,” says Jackson, who works at Lionshare Partners in Los Angeles. “You may consider amending previous tax returns to reclassify the amounts based on the VA directive, and apply for an income tax refund.”

Jackson says it’s important for veterans to work with tax advisors who know how their income is categorized.

“The first thing to know is that pension payments received after retirement from the military are taxable and should be reported on your tax returns, he says. “Disability benefits received from the Department of Veterans Affairs do not need to be reported on your personal tax return.”

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