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Veteran Benefits for Tennessee

Veteran Benefits for Tennessee

Tennessee offers unique benefits for service members, Veterans, and their families, including Veteran employment preference, property tax relief, county motor vehicle tax relief, special vehicle license plates, burial in Tennessee’s State Veterans Cemeteries, lifetime hunting and fishing licenses, and State Park privileges. Eligibility for some benefits may depend on residency, military component, and Veteran disability status. The following are benefits for the state of Tennessee.

Tennessee Veteran Financial Benefits

  • Tennessee Income Taxes: Tennessee does not have a general state income tax. Residents do not have to file an individual state income tax return.

Distributions received from the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) are not taxed.

  • Tennessee Disabled Veteran and Surviving Spouse State Property Tax Benefits: Disabled Veterans and their surviving spouses may qualify for a rebate or exemption of taxes on a portion of the value of their property. The Veteran or surviving spouse must own and use the property as their primary residence. The maximum market value on which tax relief is calculated is $175,000.

    Who is eligible for Tennessee Disabled Veteran and Surviving Spouse State Property Tax Benefits? To be eligible for property tax relief, applicants must meet the following requirements:

    For Disabled Veteran: To be eligible, a disabled Veteran must have served in the U.S. Armed Forces and received a discharge other than dishonorable, and have a service-connected disability rating from the VA that meets one of the following requirements:

    • Disability rating due to:
      • Paraplegia, or
      • Permanent paralysis of both legs and lower part of the body from traumatic injury or disease to the spinal cord, brain, or
      • Loss, or loss of use of, two or more limbs, or
      • Legal blindness, or
    • Total and permanent disability or
    • 100% total and permanent disability rating due to being a prisoner of war
  • For Surviving Spouse of a Disabled Veteran: The benefit transfers to the un-remarried surviving spouse of a disabled Veteran eligible for property tax relief. The surviving spouse must solely or jointly own the property and use it as their home.

    Applications can be made through the local County Trustee or to a city collecting official for properties inside the city limits. Contact the local city collecting official or County Trustee’s Office for forms and to apply.


  • Tennessee Tax-Free Motor Vehicle Sales to Service Members: Motor vehicles sold to certain U.S. Armed Forces service members registered in Tennessee are exempt from sales and use tax.

    Who is eligible for Tennessee Tax-Free Motor Vehicle Sales to Service Members? The following service members are eligible:

    • Service members serve active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces and are stationed in Tennessee or at a military reservation located partially in Tennessee.
    • Service member serving in the Tennessee National Guard or the U.S. Armed Forces Reserves, who is in the Active Guard and Reserve (AGR) Program and is stationed in Tennessee or at a military reservation located partially in Tennessee
    • Service member serving in the Tennessee National Guard or a member of the U.S. Armed Forces Reserves who has been called to active duty and is stationed in a combat zone; this exemption applies as of the effective date of official military orders assigning them to a combat zone and expires 90 days after their return

    The service member must provide a copy of official orders at purchase, documenting their eligibility.

    This exemption only applies if the motor vehicle is titled and registered in the name of the eligible service member, alone or jointly with a spouse or lineal relative. 

  • Tennessee Motor Vehicle Tax Exemptions for Disabled Veterans: U.S. Armed Forces Veterans who have a 100% permanent and total service-connected disability rating from the VA and former prisoners-of-war who receive a specially adapted vehicle grant from the VA are exempt from the Tennessee motor vehicle sales tax, registration fees, and local motor vehicle privilege taxes.


Sales Tax:

  • Statewide: 7.0%
  • Counties: can levy an additional sales tax no more than 2.50%
  • Current average sales tax (with local taxes included): 9.55%


  • Tennessee Hunting and Fishing License Exemption for Military Personnel on Leave: Service members on leave from the U.S. Armed Forces are not required to purchase a hunting or fishing license when on leave. Service members must carry their leave papers with them when they are hunting or fishing.
  • Nonresident Service Members May Purchase Tennessee Hunting and Fishing Licenses at Resident Rates: NonresidentU.S. Armed Forces service members serving on active duty stationed in Tennessee and their dependents (under age 16 who live with them) may purchase hunting and fishing licenses at resident rates.


  • Tennessee State Park Benefits for Veterans: Tennessee State Parks offers veterans a discount for camping during the off-season (December 1 through February 28/29). The discount is 50% off the standard nightly base rates depending on the type of site chosen premium sites excluded.

    Reservations may be made no more than one year in advance of arrival. Reservations for holiday weeks may be made no more than 30 days before arrival.

    Veterans Day is a Free State Park Day for Tennessee Veterans, including complimentary greens fees and one night of camping.

    A 50% discount off camping and cabin fees is offered to Tennessee resident Veterans with a 100% total service-connected disability. Reservations must be made within 30 days of the intended stay; premium campsites are excluded.

    All Veterans must provide proof of Tennessee residency, Veteran status, and percentage of service-connected disability (if applicable).


Education Programs

  • Tennessee Support, Training, and Renewing Opportunity for National Guard Service Members (STRONG) Act Tuition Assistance Program: The Tennessee STRONG Act provides tuition assistance through a tuition reimbursement program for Tennessee National Guard service members working towards:
    • First bachelor’s degree
    • First master’s degree
    • Certificate
    • Diploma from a vocational or technical school

    Tennessee STRONG Act provides tuition reimbursement equal to 100% of the maximum resident undergraduate or graduate in-state tuition (UT Knoxville tuition rate) after all Federal Tuition Assistance, scholarships, grants, and other financial aid has been calculated.

    This program will fund no more than 120 undergraduate semester hours or 40 graduate semester study hours.

    Who is eligible for the Tennessee STRONG Act Tuition Assistance Program? Tennessee National Guard service members must meet the following requirements to be eligible:

    • Currently serving in the Tennessee National Guard in good standing (not flagged) through the end of the academic term.
    • Does not have a previous degree at the level they are studying for
    • Attends a Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT), regionally accredited community college, four-year public university, or private school whose primary campus is in Tennessee
    • Maintains satisfactory academic progress with a 2.0 GPA minimum for the academic term for undergraduate degrees/certificates, 3.0 GPA for graduate degrees
    • Funded course(s) must meet degree completion requirements.

    Tennessee National Guard service members can apply for this program but must have not missed a ship date to complete basic military training before the course start date.

    Application packets must be completed within 90 days of course completion.


  • Tennessee Veterans Can Register Early for Classes: Tennessee resident Veterans who are students at a Tennessee public institution of higher education are eligible to register for classes before the general student population. Early registration for Veterans uses the same procedures used by student-athletes, disabled students, and honor students.
  • Tennessee Helping Heroes Education Grant for Veterans: The Helping Heroes Grant offers a $1,000 grant per semester to eligible Veterans who enroll in 12 or more semester hours and a $500 grant per semester for 6 to 11 semester hours. Veterans enrolled in less than six semester hours are not eligible for a grant. All grants are paid at the end of a semester.

    Veterans are eligible to receive a grant for eight full semesters (6-11 semester hours is considered a half semester) or until they earn a bachelor’s degree, whichever comes first. Helping Heroes Grants are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Veterans must receive a passing final grade in all classes at the end of the semester to be eligible for a grant.

    Who is eligible for the Tennessee Helping Heroes Education Grant for Veterans? To be eligible for a Helping Heroes Grant, Veterans must meet the following requirements:

    • Current service member or honorably discharged Veteran who is serving or served on active duty as a member of an active or reserve component of the U.S. Armed Forces
    • Tennessee resident for one year before application
    • Was awarded one of the following on or after September 11, 2001:
      • Iraq Campaign Medal
      • Afghanistan Campaign Medal
      • Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
    • Enrolled at a participating two or four-year postsecondary institution
    • Has not earned a bachelor’s degree
    • Not in default on a federal or state educational loan
    • Not owe a refund on a federal or state student financial aid program.
    • In compliance with federal drug-free rules for receiving financial assistance
    • Not incarcerated
    • Students are not required to meet any academic standard during enrollment.

    To remain eligible for grants, Veterans must meet satisfactory academic progress requirements of their institution.

    Helping Heroes Grants must be applied for each academic year using the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation Online Application. The application deadlines are:

    • September 1 (or the following business day) for fall enrollment
    • February 1 (or the following business day) for spring
    • May 1 (or the following business day) for summer enrollment

    When applying, veterans must mail or fax their DD214 to the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation.

  • Tennessee 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 to achieve educational success for the student


  • Tennessee Purple Star School Award for Military-Friendly Schools: The Purple Star School Award recognizes schools with a major commitment to students and families connected to the U.S. Armed Forces.

    For a school to qualify for the Purple Star School Award, it must appoint a school liaison specially trained to handle the unique challenges experienced by military families. This liaison will ensure that other teachers at their school are aware of special considerations that students from military families can benefit from. Each school will also have a dedicated page on its school website featuring resources for military families.

Housing: The following are the sites for Veterans Homes

Tennessee State Veterans’ Homes (TSVH): Tennessee has five state Veterans’ homes to provide quality long-term care, skilled nursing care, and rehabilitation and therapy services. Each home offers modern amenities, individualized care plans, and a full calendar of daily activities, all while encouraging Veteran camaraderie in a home-like setting. The TSVH staff is specially trained to provide the physical, emotional, and mental support Veterans may need.

Tennessee State Veterans Home at Murfreesboro

Tennessee State Veterans Home at Humboldt

Tennessee State Veterans Home at Knoxville

Tennessee State Veterans Home at Clarksville

Who is eligible for care at a TSVH? To be eligible for admission to a TSVH, Veterans must have received an honorable discharge from active duty service in the U.S. Armed Forces, require skilled nursing care, and meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • Resident of Tennessee at the time of admission
  • Born in Tennessee
  • Entered the U.S. Armed Forces from Tennessee
  • Tennessee address is the official Home of Record on Veteran’s Military Record
  • Immediate family member who serves as the primary caregiver if they are a Tennessee resident
  • Spouse or Gold Star Parents of an eligible Veteran may also be eligible for admission on a space-available basis

Employment and Job Training: Veteran’s Preference

  • Military-Related Leave for Tennessee State Employees: Tennessee state employees have several military-related leave benefits; a short description of each is listed below.

    Leave for Military Duty: State employees who are members of a reserve component of the U.S. Armed Forces are authorized 20 days of paid leave for military duty per calendar year.

    Leave for State Active Duty:Tennessee National Guard service members called to state active duty may receive leave with pay for the duration of their active duty.

    Leave for Disabled Veterans to Attend Appointments: A state employee who is a Veteran and has a 30% or more service-connected disability is authorized 36 hours of leave each year to attend appointments related to their disability.

    Military Exigency Leave: State employees who are the spouse, child, or parent of a service member are authorized to leave when the service member is serving on active duty or called to active duty to deploy to a foreign country. 

    Military Caregiver Leave: State employees who are the spouse, child, parent, or next of kin of a service member who is seriously injured or has a serious illness are authorized up to 26 weeks of unpaid, job-protected Military Caregiver Leave in a 12-month period. Employees must use accrued annual leave, sick or compensatory leave before entering an unpaid status.

    Military Funeral Leave: A state employee who is a Veteran is authorized excused absence up to four hours per day to participate in a military funeral service as a pallbearer, member of a firing squad, or honor guard.

    Partial Pay for State Employees Called to Active Duty: State employees called to active duty in support of a military operation are eligible for special leave with partial pay for up to one year. The military operation must be in response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and for all orders issued for operations Enduring Freedom, Joint Endeavor, Noble Eagle, New Dawn, and any subsequent operations ordered by the President or Governor. Partial pay is the difference between the employee’s regular state salary and their full-time military base pay. 

  • Tennessee State Employment Veterans Hiring Preference: Tennessee offers Veterans Hiring preferences for state employment and promotions by guaranteeing a first-round interview to eligible Veterans and surviving spouses. Applicants must meet the minimum qualifications for the position they are applying for. After the first-round interview, if an applicant eligible for Veterans preference is added to a list of eligible candidates, they are given preference in hiring over other candidates with equal qualifications who are not eligible for preference.

    Who is eligible for Tennessee State Employment Veterans Hiring Preference? The Following Veterans and spouses are eligible for Veterans preference:

    • Veterans who served on federal active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces and received an honorable discharge
    • Spouse of a Veteran who has a 100% service-connected disability or is permanently and totally disabled
    • Un-remarried surviving spouse of a service member who died in the line of duty
    • Spouse or surviving spouse must have been a registered voter in Tennessee for two years prior to application

    If an applicant eligible for Veterans preference is not hired, the hiring authority must provide the reason the applicant was not selected within 30 days. Applicants must provide proof of eligibility at the time of application.

    • In addition, employees eligible for Veterans preference will have 60 months of service credit added to their total months of state service when determining seniority during a layoff or reduction in force.
  • 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

Please note that your preference regarding burial in a national cemetery and use of a headstone provided by VA should be documented and kept with your paperwork and medical records.

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:

Chattanooga: Chattanooga National Cemetery

Knoxville: Knoxville National Cemetery

Madison: Nashville National Cemetery

Memphis: Memphis National Cemetery

Mountain Home: Mountain Home National Cemetery

Tennessee VA Benefit Resources

Tennessee provides Veterans with a Regional Benefits Office and VA Medical Centers.

Tennessee VA Regional Benefits Office

Tennessee VA Medical Centers

Important information for Tennessee 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, 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 and medical records in a safe place where you and your family can access 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 conditions other than dishonorable. 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 November 2023

Tennessee Veteran Benefits

If you are a disabled Veteran in Tennessee 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 if you are eligible for an increase in VA compensation and whether you qualify for additional benefits.