More than 219,000 veterans call the state of Mississippi home, and learning about and accessing the benefits earned through honorable service is an important task for veterans and their families.
Quality health care is always a primary concern for veterans of all ages, and Mississippi offers numerous locations to access care for yourself or your family members. The Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System, located in Biloxi, provides primary and specialty health care services to more than 50,000 veterans, as well as readjustment counseling centers, VA National Cemeteries, and four community-based outpatient clinics. Veterans living closer to Jackson can visit the G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center, which provides primary, second and tertiary medical, neurological, and mental health inpatient care, as well as an 86-bed community living center, community nursing homes, three veterans nursing homes, and community clinics. Veterans can also visit 10 community-based outpatient clinics spread throughout the state.
If you need in-person assistance accessing your state or national benefits, a good place to start is the Mississippi Veteran Affairs Board, a state office whose primary mission is to honor Mississippi veterans and their families with superior service, care, and assistance. The office works to connect veterans to their benefits, serve as advocates in legislation, and help improve service provided to veterans. The office also maintains a Veteran Service Officer in each county.
Mississippi veterans looking to purchase a home should look into the state’s Veterans Home Purchase Board. Established by the state as a way to thank veterans for their service, these low-interest mortgage loans help eligible veterans and unmarried surviving spouses purchase an existing single family home or to construct a new home. Eligibility requires that the veteran be a Mississippi resident prior to entering military service or be a resident for two consecutive years prior to applying for the loan. The veteran must have or obtain a Certificate of Eligibility for Home Loan Guaranty from the VA and be discharged from extended active duty under honorable conditions.
If you are a veteran or have a veteran loved one needing long-term care, the state of Mississippi operates four state veterans homes in Collins, Jackson, Kosciusko, and Oxford. Each home has 150 beds and offer trained specialists and a variety of health care disciplines, the latest in medical technology and equipment, full support services, and access to near by amenities. Eligibility for admission to the Homes requires that a serviceman/woman be or have been a Mississippi resident, have qualifying military service, have been discharged under other than dishonorable conditions, or be the spouse of a veteran who resides in one of the Veterans Homes. Out-of-state veterans may be admitted to the homes if there are no Mississippi residents waiting to accept a bed. Applicants must have a medical need for nursing home care and must be able to pay the applicable daily charge for care in the home. For more information, contact you local Veteran Service Officer, or contact the veterans’ home directly.
Veterans who have a total service-connected disability as established by the VA are eligible for additional benefits regarding enjoying Mississippi’s outdoor recreation. Disabled veterans are not required to purchase a state hunting or fishing license, but must have on their person proof of age, residency and disability status while engaged in hunting or fishing. Additionally, any veteran having a service-connected disability is exempt from concealed weapon permit fees and renewal fees (the veteran must be a resident of the state for 12 months or longer immediately preceding the filing of the application; however, this residency requirement may be waived under certain conditions).
Mississippi veterans, their spouses, and certain dependents may be eligible for burial at no cost the Mississippi Veterans Memorial Cemetery, located in Newton. The VA provides a free grave marker and perpetual care; you can contact your funeral director or the cemetery office for information. Additionally, the Biloxi National Cemetery is open to all members of the armed forces who have met a minimum active duty service requirement and were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. A veteran’s spouse, widow or widower, minor dependent children, and – under certain conditions – unmarried adult children with disabilities may also be eligible for burial. Both cemeteries host regular memorial events in honor of veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Written By Megan Hammons