Illinois extends a range of exclusive advantages to Service members, Veterans, and their families. These benefits encompass property tax relief, exemptions for specially adapted housing and mobile homes, preferential treatment in state employment, educational and tuition aid, distinctive vehicle tags, access to Veterans’ Homes, burial-related benefits, hunting and fishing licenses, and state park camping privileges. It’s worth noting that eligibility for certain benefits may hinge on factors like residency, military affiliation, and the Veteran’s disability status. The following are benefits for the state of Illinois.
Illinois Veteran Financial Benefits
- Illinois State Income Tax on Military Pay: Military pay that is included in a Service member’s federal adjusted gross income (AGI) may be subtracted from their Illinois gross income, including:
- Pay received for service in the U.S. Armed Forces, including basic training
- Pay received by a cadet at a service academy or in a Reserve Officer Training Corps program
- Pay received for service in the National Guard or the U.S. Armed Forces Reserves (including a National Guard unit of another state)
Service members may not subtract the following:
- Military income (such as combat pay) that was excluded from their AGI
- Pay received under the Voluntary Separation Incentive (VSI)
- Illinois Military Spouse Residency Relief Act: A nonresident spouse who shares the same state of residence as a nonresident Service member stationed in Illinois under military orders is not subject to Illinois income taxes on wages earned within Illinois. However, the nonresident spouse is still responsible for paying taxes (if applicable) to their state of residence.
- Illinois Military Retired Pay Taxes: Illinois does not tax military retired pay.
- Illinois State Taxes on Military Disability Retirement Pay: Illinois does not tax government disability plans.
- Military Disability Retirement Pay received as a pension, annuity or similar allowance for personal injury or sickness resulting from active service in the U.S. Armed Forces should not be included in taxable income. Some of the payments which are considered disability benefits include:
- Disability compensation and pension payments for disabilities paid to Veterans or their families
- Grants for homes designed for wheelchair living
- Grants for motor vehicles for Veterans who lost their sight or the use of limbs, or
- Benefits under a dependent-care assistance program
- Military Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)/ Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (RCSBP)/ Retired Serviceman’s Family Protection Plan (RSFPP) Illinois State Tax Benefits: Illinois does not tax government retirement plans.
- Illinois State Taxes on U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Disability Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC): DIC (Dependency and Indemnity Compensation) is a financial benefit that is not subject to taxation. It is provided to eligible survivors of military Service members who lost their lives in the line of duty or eligible survivors of Veterans whose death was due to a service-connected injury or disease.
- Illinois Tax Forgiveness for Deceased Service Members: Individuals who are responsible for filing taxes on behalf of a deceased Service member have the option to subtract all income earned by the Service member if their federal income tax liability was forgiven due to their death in a combat zone or as a result of wounds, disease, or injury sustained in a combat zone.
- Illinois Returning Veterans’ Homestead Exemption (RVHE): The RVHE (Returning Veterans’ Homestead Exemption) offers Service members returning from a deployment a reduction of $5,000 to the equalized assessed value of their homes. Eligibility requires that Service members have served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces during an armed conflict. This exemption applies for two consecutive tax years: the tax year in which the Service member returns from deployment and the subsequent year. To obtain further information and apply for this exemption, Service members are encouraged to get in touch with their local County Assessor’s Office.
- Illinois Disabled Veterans’ Standard Homestead Exemption (DVSHE): The DVSHE (Disabled Veterans’ Standard Homestead Exemption) offers a reduction in the equalized assessed value (EAV) of a property owned by a Veteran with a service-connected disability. To qualify for this exemption, the property’s total EAV must be under $250,000. The extent of the reduction is determined by the percentage of the Veteran’s disability:
- $2,500 exemption for a service-connected disability rating of at least 30% but less than 50%
- $5,000 for a service-connected disability rating of at least 50% but less than 70%
- Total exemption for a service-connected disability rating of 70% or more
This exemption is also accessible to the un-remarried Surviving Spouse of a Veteran who was granted an exemption before their passing. In the event that a Surviving Spouse relocates to a new residence, they are eligible for an exemption equal to the amount they received on their previous property. If the Veteran’s death was service-related and they were not previously benefiting from a property tax exemption, their un-remarried Surviving Spouse, who is in receipt of Disability Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), can request this exemption.
Additionally, the un-remarried Surviving Spouse of a Service member who perished in the line of duty is fully exempt from all property taxes on their primary residence.
- Illinois Disabled Veterans’ Exemption for Specially Adapted Housing: Illinois provides a reduction of $100,000 in the assessed value of the residence belonging to a permanent and totally service-connected disabled Veteran who has received financial assistance from federal, state, or charitable organizations to acquire or adapt a home to accommodate their disabilities. This exemption is also applicable to a mobile home that is solely owned and used by a Veteran with a disability or their spouse.The exemption remains in effect for as long as the Veteran, their spouse, or un-remarried surviving spouse resides on the property.
- Statewide: 6.25%
- Counties: can levy an additional sales tax of no more than 4.75%
- Current average sales tax (with local taxes included): 8.82%
- Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Benefits for Service Members and Veterans who were Mobilized or Served Abroad: The IDNR offers the following benefits for Service Members and Veterans who were mobilized or served abroad.
- Service Members: IDNR will waive fees for camping, fishing, and hunting for a resident Service member who served abroad or mobilized. Those eligible can receive the following:
- Free camping at Illinois State Parks (does not include utilities, rent-a-tent, or cabin fees)
- Free Combined Sportsman’s License and Habitat Stamp
- Free firearm deer permit for the county of choice (and the archery deer permit if not available at the time of verification)
Service members must apply within two years after they return from abroad or are released from mobilization. Those eligible can receive fee waivers for one year for each year served and one year for each portion of a year served.
Veterans: Illinois resident Veterans who served abroad or mobilized to federal active duty can purchase an Illinois fishing license, hunting license, or Sportsman’s Combination License for half price.
- Illinois Resident Service Members May Hunt Without a License While on Leave: An Illinois resident Service member who joined the U.S. Armed Forces from Illinois is permitted to hunt and fish without a license while on leave. It’s worth noting that hunters are still required to purchase a Federal Waterfowl Stamp and an Illinois Habitat Stamp when applicable.
- Illinois Hunting and Fishing License Exemption for Disabled Veterans: Fishing and hunting licenses are not necessary for disabled Veterans who possess a service-connected disability rating of 10% or more from the VA. Additionally, these disabled Veterans are exempt from the obligation to purchase a Habitat Stamp.
To be eligible for this exemption, Veterans must make a request for a Veteran’s Disability Card from their nearest Illinois Veteran’s Affairs office. Proof of their disability rating must be provided for verification.
- Free Camping for Illinois Disabled Veterans and Former Prisoners of War (POWs): Illinois resident disabled Veterans and former POWs are eligible for free camping and admission at Illinois State Parks. The Spouse, minor children, and grandchildren (under 18 years old) accompanying the Veteran are also eligible.
Illinois Military & Veterans Miscellaneous Benefits
- Greater Chicago Veterans Food Pantries: The Greater Chicago Food Depository provides food specifically for needy Veterans at two locations in the Chicago area.
- Veteran Food Pantry locations:
- Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, 820 S. Damen Avenue, Chicago, IL 60612, 2nd Floor, Damen Catwalk
- Hines VA Hospital, 5000 S. 5th Avenue, Hines, IL 60141, Auditorium Lobby Building 9; Every Thursday 10 am – 12pm
- Veteran Food Pantry locations:
- Illinois Regional Transportation Authority Military Service Fare Program: The Regional Transit Authority’s (RTA) service region of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will counties offer free or reduced fares for eligible Service members and Veterans. The free or reduced fare rides are provided on fixed-route service by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metra, and Pace Suburban Bus. Eligibility requirements vary among transit providers.
- Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Military Service Pass: CTA allows active duty Service members and Veterans who have a qualifying service-connected disability to ride CTA for free.
- Active duty Service members and actively drilling members serving in the National Guard or U.S. Armed Forces Reserves who have a valid U.S. Armed Forces ID card
- Service members in uniform; see the rail station customer assistant or bus operator for a free ride
- Disabled Veterans who have a 10% or greater disability rating from the VA or are receiving military disability retirement pay from a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces
- Veterans with a disability, and active duty Service members not in uniform, must present a valid CTA Military Service Pass (MSP) to ride free on CTA buses and trains (MSP is not valid on Pace or Metra).
- Illinois Military Family Relief Fund (IMFRF): IMFRF (Illinois Military Family Relief Fund) offers financial grants to resident Service members serving in an active or reserve capacity within the U.S. Armed Forces. These grants are designed to assist Service members and their families in covering various expenses, including food, housing, utilities, medical services, and other financial challenges that may arise when the Service member either departs from their civilian employment or is injured in a hostile act.
The IMFRF provides:
- Status-Based Grant of $500 – based on the Service members’ military duty status; available for Illinois National Guard and resident U.S. Armed Forces Reserve Service members serving on federal active duty
- Needs-Based Grant of $2,000 – based on a Service member and their family’s financial need; available for Illinois National Guard and resident U.S. Armed Forces Reserve Service members serving on federal active duty
- Casualty-Based Grant of $5000 – provided for Service members who are injured in hostile action; resident active duty Service members, Illinois National Guard and resident U.S. Armed Forces Reserve Service members serving on federal active duty
- State Active Duty Grant of $500 – based on an Illinois National Guard Service member’s service on state active duty for 30 or more days
- Illinois Wartime Veterans Bonuses: Illinois offers bonuses to Veterans or Service members who are still serving for service during World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, the Global War on Terrorism, or were declared Prisoners of War.All applicants must have been a resident of Illinois for 12 months prior to entering the U.S. Armed Forces and if separated from the military they received an honorable discharge.
World War II Bonus Payment –$10 per month for domestic service and $15 per month for foreign service to Veterans who served at least 60 days on active duty between September 16, 1940, through September 3, 1945. Survivors of a Service member who was killed in action are eligible for a $9000 payment.
Korean Bonus Payment –$100 bonus to Veterans who served in Korea between June 27, 1950, through July 27, 1953.
Vietnam Bonus Payment – $100 bonus to Veterans who received the Vietnam Service Medal or Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for Vietnam and served during the following time periods:
- Vietnam – January 1, 1961, through March 28, 1973
- Vietnam, Operation Frequent Wind – April 29 and 30, 1975
Persian Gulf Bonus Payment – $100 bonus to Veterans or Service members who served between August 2, 1990, through November 30, 1995, and received the Southwest Asia Service Medal.
Global War on Terrorism (Operation Iraq Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation New Dawn) Bonus Payment – $100 bonus to Veterans or Service members who served on or after September 11, 2001, for 30 consecutive or 60 nonconsecutive days of foreign or sea service and received one of the following medals:
- Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
- Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
- Iraq Campaign Medal
- Afghanistan Campaign Medal
Southeast Asia POW Compensation: Veterans who were declared a prisoner of war in Southeast Asia are eligible for $50 for each month or portion of a month they were held captive.
Illinois National Guard Grant Program (ING): The ING Grant Program offers coverage of tuition and specific fees, including registration, graduation, general activity, matriculation, and term fees, for eligible Illinois National Guard Service members pursuing undergraduate or graduate studies. These benefits are applicable exclusively at Illinois public colleges, whether they are two-year or four-year institutions. The quantity of benefits a Service member is eligible to receive depends on their years of service.
- Less than 10 years of National Guard service – Grant can be used up to the equivalent of four academic years of full-time enrollment
- 10 years or more of National Guard service – Grant can be used for a maximum of the equivalent of six academic years of full-time enrollment
Who is eligible for ING? To be eligible Service members must meet the following requirements:
- Currently serving Illinois National Guard Service member
- Completed one full year of service in the Illinois National Guard
- Enrolled at an Illinois public two or four-year college
- Not be in default on any student loan or owe a refund on any state or federal grant
- Maintain satisfactory academic progress as determined by the educational institution
Service members who served in the Illinois National Guard for at least five consecutive years and whose education was interrupted due to being called to federal active duty for at least six months can receive an exemption from the currently serving requirement.
Illinois Deceased, Disabled, Declared Missing in Action (MIA) or Prisoner of War (POW) Veterans’ Dependents Educational Opportunity Grant (Age 10-18): Illinois offers an annual $250 educational grant to the children of certain Veterans. The grant may be used at a state elementary school, middle school, high school, or vocational school for educational expenses.
Who is eligible for the Illinois Deceased, Disabled, Declared Missing in Action (MIA) or Prisoner of War (POW) Veterans’ Dependents Educational Opportunity Grant (Age 10-18)? This grant is offered to the children of a Veteran who meets the following requirements:
- Illinois resident:
- At the time of entry into active duty service in the U.S. Armed Forces, or
- Within six months after entering active duty service, or
- For at least 15 consecutive years after leaving active duty service
- Declared a POW or MIA, or
- 100% permanent and total service-connected disability rating from the VA or compensated at 100% due to unemployability, or
- Died from a service-connected cause
The Veteran’s child must be the natural child, stepchild, adopted child, or court-appointed foster child (for at least two years) between the ages of 10 and 18 to be eligible for the grant.
Illinois Deceased, Disabled, Declared Missing in Action (MIA) or Prisoner of War (POW) Veterans’ Dependents Scholarship: Illinois provides an educational scholarship at Illinois state-supported colleges or universities for the dependents of certain Veterans. The scholarship will pay full tuition and mandatory fees. Scholarships are based on a point system; students are authorized a maximum of 120 points that expire 12 years from the date of enrollment.
- 1 credit hour = 1 point
- 2 credit hours = 2 points
- 3 credit hours = 3 points
- 4 credit hours = 4 points
- 5 credit hours = 5 points
- 6-8 credit hours = 6 points
- 9-11 credit hours = 9 points
- 12 or more hours = 12 points
To continue to be eligible students must maintain satisfactory academic progress as determined by the educational institution.
Who is eligible for the Illinois Deceased, Disabled, Declared MIA or POW Veterans’ Dependents Scholarship? This scholarship is offered to the dependents of a Veteran who meets the following eligibility requirements:
- Illinois resident:
- At the time of entry into service active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, or
- Within six months after entering active duty service, or
- For at least 15 consecutive years after leaving active duty service
- Declared a POW or MIA, or
- 100% permanent and total service-connected disability rating from the VA, or
- Compensated at 100% due to individual unemployability, or
- Died from a service-connected cause
Dependents must meet the following criteria:
- Spouse or un-remarried Surviving Spouse
- Children under the age of 26
- Stepchildren must have been under the age of 18 when their parents married
- Adopted children must have been under the age of 18 at the time of adoption
- Foster children must have been under age 18 when they entered court-ordered guardianship and for at least 2 continuous years prior to application
Illinois Veterans’ Grant (IVG): IVG pays tuition and mandatory fees at all Illinois state-supported colleges, universities, and community colleges for eligible Illinois Veterans.
Who is eligible for the IVG? To be eligible Veterans must meet the following requirements:
- Resident of Illinois six months before entering the U. S. Armed forces
- Served one full year of active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, or
- Served on active duty and assigned in a foreign country at a time of hostilities, regardless of length of service
- Received an honorable discharge
- Return to Illinois within six months after discharge from active duty
Illinois Children of Veterans Scholarship: Illinois counties are authorized to award one annual scholarship to the University of Illinois to the children of Veterans of World War I, World War II, Korean, and Vietnam Conflict and any time on or after August 2, 1990.
Preference is given to the children of deceased and disabled Veterans. Children will receive a scholarship for tuition at the University of Illinois for four consecutive years.
Academic Credit at Illinois Institutions of Higher Education for Military Training and Education: Illinois institutions of higher education will award academic credits for a Service member’s or Veteran’s military education and training
Illinois Fallen Heroes Scholarship Program: Illinois offers the children of a fallen Service member a $2,500 scholarship that is deposited in a Bright Start Account that may be used for qualified higher education expenses.
Who is eligible for the Illinois Fallen Heroes Scholarship Program? The children (including stepchildren and adopted children), under 30 years old of a Service member who was killed in the line of duty while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces are eligible to apply. Students do not need to be enrolled in an undergraduate program, and awards may be deferred for future use.
- The scholarship is invested in an age-based portfolio under the Bright Start College Savings Program
- Scholarship cannot be awarded as cash or withdrawn at any time for cash, funds must be paid directly to the school
- Bright Start can only be used for qualified higher education expenses (tuition and fees)
- Eligible educational institutions include most accredited public, nonprofit, and privately-owned for-profit postsecondary institutions
Illinois Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children (MIC3): The purpose of this compact is to remove barriers to educational success imposed on children of military families because of frequent moves and deployment of their parents by:
- Facilitating the prompt enrollment of children of military Families and ensuring that they are not placed at a disadvantage due to difficulty in the transfer of educational records from the previous school district or variations in entrance or age requirements
- Facilitating the student placement process through which children of military Families are not disadvantaged by variations in attendance requirements, scheduling, sequencing, grading, course content, or assessment. Facilitating the qualification and eligibility for enrollment, educational programs, and participation in extracurricular academic, athletic, and social activities
- Facilitating the on-time graduation of children of military families
- Providing for the enforcement of administrative rules implementing the provisions of this compact
- Providing for the uniform collection and sharing of information between and among member states, schools, and military Families under this compact
- Promoting coordination between this compact and other compacts affecting military children
- Promoting flexibility and cooperation between the educational system, parents, and the student in order to achieve educational success for the student
Illinois Purple Star School Program for Military-Friendly Schools:
Recent legislation has endorsed the implementation of the Illinois Purple Star School program, effective from the 2022-2023 academic year, aimed at recognizing military-friendly schools. The Purple Star School program acknowledges schools that demonstrate a significant commitment to students and their Families associated with the U.S. Armed Forces.
To qualify for the Purple Star Award, a school must designate a school liaison who has received specialized training to address the unique challenges faced by military Families. This liaison will ensure that other teachers at their school are well-informed about the specific needs and considerations that students from military Families may require. Furthermore, each school will establish a dedicated page on their website, offering resources tailored to military Families.
Housing: The following are the sites for Veterans Homes
Eligibility for admission:
- Honorably discharged Veterans who entered the U.S. Armed Forces as a resident of Illinois or has been a resident of Illinois for one year prior to their application and meet the following requirements are eligible for admission:
- Served in the U.S. Armed Forces at least one day during a recognized wartime period, or served in a hostile fire area and was awarded a campaign or expeditionary medal, or
- Retired from the U.S. Armed Forces due to a service-connected disability or injury, or
- Served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for at least 24 months of continuous service after September 7, 1980
- Served in a reserve component of the U.S. Armed Forces and was called to federal active duty (other than for training) and completed that active duty mobilization, or
- Served in a reserve component of the U.S. Armed Forces and completed 20 years of service and is eligible to receive military retired pay, or
- Discharged for hardship or released from active duty due to a reduction in force before the completion of the required period of service, and
- Have a disability, disease, or wounds and are not able to earn a living
Employment and Job Training: Veterans Preference
Illinois Veteran Entrepreneurship Program: The Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA), in collaboration with the Illinois Department of Central Management Services, is dedicated to providing training and outreach initiatives for both aspiring and established entrepreneurs. Their primary objective is to assist entrepreneurs by establishing connections with government agencies, educational institutions, trade associations, and industry experts. The overarching goal is to educate these entrepreneurs about the extensive resources and opportunities available to Veteran-owned and service-disabled Veteran-owned businesses.
IDVA, alongside its partner organizations, conducts a variety of training programs, seminars, and informational sessions across the state. These events are organized to disseminate crucial information and resources to Veterans, Military Families, and returning Service members. Event attendees can expect personalized assistance in several key areas:
- Federal, state, county, and city contracting
- Business plan development
- Veteran Certification Enterprise application assistance
- Strategic growth plan development
- Access to Capital
- Marketing and branding
Illinois Veterans Business Program (IVBP) Preference in State Contracting: IVBP encourages state agencies and universities to spend at least 3% of their procurement budgets with certified Veteran-owned businesses. State contracts are available for:
- Building repairs and maintenance
- Office supplies
- Upkeep for state parks
- Other needed services
Illinois Department of Employment Security, Veteran Employment Services: The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) plays a crucial role in assisting Veterans in securing stable and meaningful employment. IDES Employment Specialists ensure that Veterans receive priority of service at employment and training services offices across the state. This commitment aims to support Veterans in their employment endeavors.
Illinois Work Study Opportunities: The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) provides VA Work Study opportunities at their numerous offices throughout Illinois. The VA Work Study Program provides part-time employment to students receiving VA education benefits who attend school three-quarter time or more.
Illinois Public Employee Leave and Benefits During Military Duty: Illinois state government, local government, public institutions of higher education, or school district full-time employees who are also Reserve component Service members are entitled to a leave of absence from their public employment when ordered to active duty service in the U.S. Armed Forces. During this leave, the employee’s seniority and other employment benefits will continue to accrue.
Public employees are further entitled to full salary continuation during annual training for a maximum of 30 days in each calendar year. It’s important to note that these training days do not need to be consecutive.
In situations where public employees are required to serve on active duty for a duration exceeding 60 days, they are eligible for differential compensation. This means that the public employer is obligated to bridge the gap between the employee’s civilian pay and their military pay.
Additionally, public employees have the option to use their accrued vacation, annual, or similar leave in lieu of receiving differential pay. This provides flexibility for employees during their military service obligations.
Illinois Family Military Leave Act: In accordance with Illinois law, employers are obligated to grant family military leave to the spouse, parent, child, or grandparent of Service members who are on state or federal deployment orders. Employer’s with at least 15 employees but not more than 50, they must offer up to 15 days of unpaid family military leave. Large employers with 51 or more employees must provide up to 30 days of unpaid family military leave.
To take advantage of this leave, employees are required to provide their employer with a 14-day notice. During this leave, employees are expected to use available vacation leave, personal leave, compensatory leave, and any other applicable leave, with the exception of sick leave and disability leave.
Illinois State Approving Agency (SAA): The State Approving Agency (SAA) is responsible for granting approval to a variety of educational programs, including college and non-college degree programs, vocational flight training, apprenticeships, and other on-the-job training. This approval ensures that eligible Veterans and other qualified individuals can receive federal educational assistance benefits through the various programs administered by the VA.
Illinois Veteran Preference for State Employment: Illinois offers Veteran preference when hiring for state employment to eligible Service members, Veterans, and certain family members. Preference is given by adding points to passing grades.
Three Preference Points are added to the scores of Veterans who served in the U.S. Armed Forces and meet one of the following requirements:
- Served at least six months and received an honorable discharge
- Was discharged based on hardship, or was released from active duty because of a service-connected disability and received an honorable discharge
- Served a minimum of four years in the Illinois National Guard or the U.S. Armed Forces Reserve, including Service members who are still actively serving
Five Preference Points are added to the scores of Veterans who served in the U.S. Armed Forces and meet one of the following requirements:
- Served during a time of hostilities with a foreign country for at least six months and received an honorable discharge, or
- Served for the duration of the hostilities regardless of the length of engagement
- Served during a time of hostilities and was discharged based on hardship or was released from active duty because of a service-connected disability and received an honorable discharge
10 Preference Points are added to the scores of Individuals who meet one of the following requirements:
- A veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces who has a service-connected disability rating from the VA
- Purple Heart recipient
- Un-remarried Surviving spouse of:
- Service member or Veteran who died from a service-connected cause
- Veteran who has a service-connected disability that prevents them from qualifying for civil service employment
- Parent of an unmarried Service member or Veteran who suffered a service-connected death or a service-connected disability that prevents them from qualifying for civil service employment
All Veterans are required to submit a certified copy of their DD214 or DD215 as proof of service at the time of application.
The Illinois Compiled Statutes 65-5-10 grants promotion preference points for municipal classified civil service positions. Veterans must have served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for at least one year before being honorably discharged to be eligible.
Veterans can receive:
Seven-tenths of one point for every six months (or fraction thereof) of active duty service, not to exceed 30 months
- Points can only be applied towards one promotion
Illinois Service Member Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (ISERRA): ISERRA ensures Illinois Service members’ jobs and benefits are protected while they are serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. ISERRA also helps provide information and training for employers across Illinois.
ISERRA helps minimize the disadvantages of military service in civilian careers by:
- Providing prompt reemployment and protections to Service members that minimizes disruption to the lives of employees, their employers, and co-workers
- Prohibits discrimination against and interference with military service
- Ensures that businesses are model employers of reserve component Service members
The law also created the ISERRA advocate, the ISERRA advocate can assist both Service members and employers with information to ensure the rights of Service members are protected.
Illinois Veteran Education Waivers for State Police, Conservation Officers, Municipal Police, Firefighters, and Emergency Medical Technicians: Illinois will waive certain education requirements for Veterans interested in public service.
Illinois State Police and Illinois Conservation Police: The educational requirements needed to join the Illinois State Police are waived for Veterans who were awarded a campaign medal for service in Afghanistan or Iraq and received an honorable discharge. All other requirements to join the Illinois State Police will still apply.
The education requirements needed to join the Illinois Conservation Police (a component of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources) are waived if Veterans meet the following requirements:
- Received an honorable discharge and awarded a Southwest Asia Service Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, or Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal by the U.S. Armed Forces, or
- Service members serving in the Illinois National Guard or U.S. Armed Forces Reserves who were awarded the Southwest Asia Service Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, or Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal during an active duty deployment
All other requirements to join the Illinois Conservation Police will still apply.
Education Waiver for Municipal Police and Firefighters: The educational requirements of an associate degree needed to be hired as a firefighter or municipal police officer is waived for a Veteran if they meet the following requirements:
- Served honorably for 24 months on active duty, or
- Served 180 days in combat
The educational requirements of a bachelor’s degree needed to be hired as a firefighter or municipal police officer are waived for a Veteran if they meet the following requirements:
- Served honorably for 36 months on active duty, or
- Served 180 days in combat
Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs): The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reviews applications for an EMT license from honorably discharged Service members with military emergency medical training for information that clearly demonstrates that their training and experience meet licensing standards. Applications must be filed with IDPH within one year after military discharge. If applicants meet the requirements, IDPH will offer the applicant the opportunity to take an IDPH-approved EMT exam and will issue an EMT license if they pass.
Federal Employment Veteran’s Hiring Preferences: Federal law mandates that Veterans, especially those with disabilities or those who served during specific time periods or in military campaigns, are granted preference over non-veterans when it comes to Federal civil service hiring and retention during workforce reductions. In various scoring processes for examinations and interviews, Veterans may be eligible for an additional 5 or 10 points.
5-point Hiring Preference: Five points are added to the examination score or rating of a Veteran who served:
- During a war, or
- During the period April 28, 1952, through July 1, 1955, or
- For more than 180 consecutive days, other than for training, any part of which occurred after January 31, 1955, and before October 15, 1976, or
- During the Gulf War from August 2, 1990, through January 2, 1992, or
- For more than 180 consecutive days, other than for training, any part of which occurred during the period beginning September 11, 2001, and ending on August 31, 2010, the last day of Operation Iraqi Freedom, or
- In a campaign or expedition for which a campaign medal has been authorized. Any Armed Forces Expeditionary medal or campaign badge, including El Salvador, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Southwest Asia, Somalia, and Haiti, qualifies for preference
10-point Compensable Disability (CP) Preference: Ten points are added to the examination score or rating of a Veteran who served at any time and who has a compensable service-connected disability rating of at least 10% but less than 30%.
10-Point 30% Compensable Disability Preference (CPS): Ten points are added to the passing examination score or rating of a Veteran who served at any time and who has a compensable service-connected disability rating of 30% or more.
10-Point Disability Preference (XP): Ten points are added to the passing examination score or rating of:
- A veteran who served at any time and has a present service-connected disability or is receiving compensation, disability retirement benefits, or pension from the military or the VA but does not qualify as a CP or CPS, or
- Veteran who received a Purple Heart
10-Point Derived Preference (XP): Ten points are added to the passing examination score or rating of Spouses, Surviving Spouses, or mothers of Veterans. Both a mother and a Spouse (including a Surviving Spouse) may be entitled to preference based on the same Veteran’s service if they both meet the requirements. However, neither may receive preference if the Veteran is living and is qualified for Federal employment.
Ten points are added to the passing examination score or rating of the Spouse of a disabled Veteran who is disqualified for a federal position along the general lines of their usual occupation because of a service-connected disability. Such a disqualification may be presumed when the Veteran is unemployed and:
- Is rated by appropriate military or VA authorities to be 100% disabled and/or unemployable, or
- Has retired, been separated, or resigned from a civil service position because of a disability that is service-connected in origin, or
- Has attempted to obtain a civil service position or other position along the lines of their usual occupation and has failed to qualify because of a service-connected disability
Preference may be allowed in other circumstances but anything less than the above warrants a more careful analysis.
A campaign medal holder or Gulf War Veteran who originally enlisted after September 7, 1980, (or began active duty on or after October 14, 1982, and has not previously completed 24 months of continuous active duty) must have served continuously for 24 months or the full period called or ordered to active duty. The 24-month service requirement does not apply to 10-point preference eligible Veterans separated for disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty, or to Veterans separated for hardship or other reasons under Title 10 U.S.C. 1171 or 1173.
Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA): USERRA protects civilian job rights and benefits for Veterans and members of reserve components. USERRA also protects Service member rights and benefits by clarifying the law, improving enforcement mechanisms, and adding Federal Government employees to those employees already eligible to receive Department of Labor assistance in processing claims.
Absence from Work for Military Duty: USERRA establishes the cumulative length of time that an individual may be absent from work for military duty and retain reemployment rights for five years. Exceptions to the five-year limit, include initial enlistments lasting more than five years, periodic National Guard and U.S. Armed Forces Reserve training duty, and involuntary active duty extensions and recalls, especially during a time of national emergency. USERRA establishes that reemployment protection does not depend on the timing, frequency, duration, or nature of an individual’s service if the basic eligibility criteria are met.
Disability Accommodation: USERRA provides protection for disabled Veterans, requiring employers to make reasonable efforts to accommodate the disability. Service members recovering from injuries received during service or training may have up to two years from the date of completion of service to return to their jobs or apply for reemployment.
Return to Work without Loss of Seniority: USERRA provides that returning Service members are reemployed in the job that they would have attained had they not been absent for military service, with the same seniority, status, and pay, as well as other rights and benefits determined by seniority. USERRA also requires that reasonable efforts (such as training or retraining) be made to enable returning Service members to refresh or upgrade their skills to help them qualify for reemployment. USERRA also provides that while an individual is performing military service, they are deemed to be on a furlough or leave of absence and are entitled to the non-seniority rights accorded to other individuals on non-military leaves of absence.
Extension of Health and Pension Plans: Health and pension plan coverage for Service members is provided for by USERRA. Individuals performing military duty of more than 30 days may elect to continue employer-sponsored health care for up to 24 months; however, they may be required to pay up to 102% of the full premium. For military service of less than 31 days, health care coverage is provided as if the Service member had remained employed. USERRA clarifies pension plan coverage by making explicit that all pension plans are protected.
Who is eligible for USERRA Benefits? Veterans, U.S. Armed Forces Reserve or National Guard Service members who leave a position for training or active military service are eligible.
The Department of Labor, through the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS), helps all who have claims under USERRA, including Federal and Postal Service employees.
Burials and Memorials
The National Cemetery Administration (NCA) pays tribute to eligible Veterans and their family members by providing a final resting place and a lasting memorial to commemorate the Veteran’s dedicated service to the nation.
The burial benefits encompass a gravesite in any of our open cemeteries with available space, the opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, a government-furnished headstone or marker, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, all at no cost to the family. Some Veterans may also meet the criteria for a burial allowance. Cremated remains are interred or inurned in national cemeteries with the same honors and respect as casketed remains.
Burial benefits extend to eligible spouses and dependents, including burial alongside the Veteran and perpetual care of the interment site. The name and relevant dates of birth and death of the spouse or dependent are inscribed on the Veteran’s headstone at no expense to the family. Importantly, spouses and qualified dependents are eligible for burial even if they pass away before the Veteran and are not required to be interred in the same national cemetery as the Veteran.
National Cemeteries include:
Alton: Alton National Cemetery
Chicago: Confederate Mound
Danville: Danville National Cemetery
Fort Sheridan: Fort Sheridan National Cemetery
Mound City: Mound City National Cemetery
Quincy: Quincy National Cemetery
Rock Island: Rock Island Confederate Cemetery
Rock Island: Rock Island National Cemetery
Springfield: Camp Butler National Cemetery
Illinois VA Benefit Resources
Illinois provides Veterans with a Regional Benefits Office and VA Medical Centers.
Illinois VA Regional Benefits Office
- Chicago: Chicago Regional Office
Illinois VA Medical Centers
- Chicago: Jesse Brown VA Medical Center
- Danville: VA Illiana Health Care System
- Hines: Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital
- Marion: Marion VA Medical Center
- North Chicago: Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center
Important information for Illinois Veteran Benefits:
For Veterans applying for VA benefits for the first time, you must submit a copy of your DD 214 (discharge paperwork). This will provide your discharge status, along with your full name, social security number, branch of service, and dates for which you served. Honorable and general discharges qualify a Veteran for most VA benefits.
You should always keep your paperwork, along with your medical records, in a safe place where you and your family can have access to them. It is imperative to have it in a location where it cannot be destroyed or tampered with, which includes a safe.
Your eligibility for most VA benefits is based upon discharge from active military service under other than dishonorable conditions.
Active service means full-time service as a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard, or as a commissioned officer of the Public Health Service, the Environmental Services Administration, or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Any Veteran discharged from the military under the conditions of “Dishonorable” due to bad conduct discharges issued by general courts-martial may bar VA benefits. Veterans in prison and parolees may be eligible for certain VA benefits. VA regional offices can clarify the eligibility of prisoners, parolees, and individuals with multiple discharges issued under differing conditions.
*This information is accurate as of October 2023
Illinois Veteran Benefits
If you are a disabled Veteran in Illinois and are VA rated 90% or less, you may be eligible for additional benefits. Contact Veterans Guardian for a free consultation with no obligation. Let us review your claim to determine whether you qualify for additional benefits.