Veteran Benefits and Resources in Tennessee
Known by its most popular nickname, “The Volunteer State,” Tennessee received its nickname during the War of 1812, when volunteer soldiers from Tennessee displayed marked valor in the Battle of New Orleans. Today more than 504,000 veterans call Tennessee home, and their honorable service has earned them numerous benefits that can make life healthier and more affordable.
If you are just starting to access your benefits or need help following up on a claim, a great place to start is your local Veteran Service Officer (VSO). These are trained professionals who are familiar with state and federal veteran benefits, claims processes and required documents, and updated legislation affected veterans and their dependents. The Tennessee Department of Veterans Services has nine VSO field offices throughout the state to assist veterans. Additionally, in order to serve 95 Tennessee counties, County Service Officers (CSO) also provide assistance. Check with your local courthouse for the contact information for your CSO, or contact the VSO nearest you for additional information.
Accessing quality health care is always a top priority for veterans and their families, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has four main medical centers in Tennessee, in Memphis, Mountain Home, Murfreesboro, and Nashville. These facilities offer a wide range of ambulatory care, primary care, and secondary care in acute medicine and surgery, specialized tertiary care, outpatient care, and a full range of extended care and mental health services. The Nashville campus is the only VA facility that supports all solid organ transplant programs, including total in-house kidney and bone marrow transplants. Additional programs are offered for caregivers, female veterans, returning veterans, and veterans at risk for or experiencing homelessness. Veterans and their families can use the facilities’ websites to check eligibility, make and change appointments, and learn more about the billing process. Additionally, veterans can find care closer to home at the five VA outpatient clinics and the 18 community-based outpatient clinics spread throughout the state. These locations work closely with the larger facilities when referrals are needed.
If you are a veteran who enjoys the outdoors, you may be eligible for several benefits and discounts to help you experience the recreational features of the state. For example, veterans with 30% or more war service connected disabilities can receive a free hunting and fishing license after a one-time fee of $10. Additionally, during the off-season, (November 1 through March 31), all Tennessee resident veterans receive discounts on camping fees at the same discounted rates offered to Tennessee senior campers. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation also offers one annual Free Day where veterans (with proper ID) can enjoy free entrance and use of all state parks including state golf courses.
For Tennessee senior veterans looking for long-term housing and care options, the state offers four veterans homes, in Humboldt, Knoxville, Murfreesboro, and the newest facility in Clarksville. These facilities offer skilled nursing, rehabilitation, and physical/occupational/speech therapy to residents as well as activities and programs that promote physical skills and social interaction. Recreational, cultural, and intellectual activities are planned on a daily basis for both individuals and large groups. Gardening, holiday celebrations, day trips, and other activities that promote a home-like atmosphere are offered, and needed services like dental care, and wheelchairs are provided. Eligible residents must be eligible for VA medical care and meet certain Tennessee resident requirements; certain spouses or family members may be eligible as well, as well as Tennessee God Star Parents. Costs are based on income.
A veteran’s honorable service to his or her country earns full honors at the time of death at no cost to his or her family, including burial, perpetual care, a government headstone or marker, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate. Some veterans may also be eligible for Burial Allowances. Tennessee veterans who participated in active duty may also be eligible for the Tennessee Fallen Heroes Medal, awarded by the governor or the governor's designee to the immediate survivor of the recipient, along with the veteran’s name being entered on the case of the Tennessee Fallen Heroes Medal. Tennessee is home to five national veterans cemeteries, and three state veterans cemeteries. Interment for veterans is free in most cases, and eligible spouses or dependents may be also be eligible under certain conditions and for a small fee. These locations are perpetually cared for and offer a peaceful setting for reflection and visiting loved ones.
Tennessee Veterans Benefit for Assisted Living
The Aid and Attendance pension benefit is available to Tennessee senior veterans and their spouses to help pay for senior care like assisted living, home care, or nursing home care. Here is more information on how the Aid and Attendance benefit helps Tennessee veterans.
Written by Megan Hammons