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Home to the Pentagon and 27 military bases, it’s no surprise that Virginia is home to 700,000 former service members. If you’re already a veteran or are about to transition to veteran status in the Old Dominion, you have benefits you can use right now. Take advantage of these Virginia-specific programs and live life to the fullest after your military service:

1. Connect with your nearest Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS) office. If you haven’t done so already, meet with your local DVS office. DVS services are free, and these offices have accredited staff who know the ins and outs of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits and services. Work together to apply for VA compensation and pensions, the GI Bill, health care, home loans and more. You may also receive help accessing Virginia-based transition and veteran assistance (see below).

Learn more: Find a nearby DVS at https://rly.pt/3iaCnks.

2. Transition with ease. A lesser-known benefit offered by the commonwealth is called VTAP. “The Virginia Transition Assistance Program (VTAP) is the most underused state benefit,” said Annie Walker, deputy commissioner for DVS, in a recent blog. “VTAP offers transitioning service members and their spouses the best (of) Virginia.”

Through a network of advisers and experts, VTAP focuses on serving your goals in employment, education and entrepreneurship after you transition, but goes beyond those areas as needed.

Added Walker: “The referral services could include, but are not limited to, resume review, introduction to the Virginia labor market, connection with Virginia Values Veterans-certified companies for employment (https://rly.pt/2HNajat), and other VDVS programs.”

Learn more: https://rly.pt/3jgOVbb.

2. Get family and legal assistance. With some supplemental funding provided by the independent Virginia Veteran Services Foundation (https://rly.pt/2EP5Rqs), Virginia offers you and your family confidential support related to deployment or involvement in the criminal justice system, and civil legal services. Check out these offerings:

• Virginia Veteran and Family Support (VVFS): If you are a veteran or service member or a family member of one, comprehensive care coordination and support are available to address the challenges of service, transition, deployments, diagnoses of post-traumatic stress or other concerns. Services are delivered through four regions. Learn more: https://rly.pt/3iirU6m or call [login to see] or [login to see] .

• VVFS Justice Involved Services (JIS): Get assistance if you’re a veteran or service member involved in treatment, local jail or prison, or probation or parole. Learn more: Email the VVFS Justice mailbox at [login to see] .gov or call [login to see] .

• Office of the Attorney General (OAG) Veterans Assistance: The state’s OAG also offers guidance and legal service clinics in legal rights and other civil legal needs such as the creation of simple wills and medical directives. Service is provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Learn more: https://rly.pt/3ncJhJR.

3. Reduce your real estate taxes. If you are a disabled veteran or surviving spouse residing in a primary residence in Virginia, you may be able to reduce your tax burden under two programs:

• Disabled veteran and surviving spouse. If you are a veteran rated as having a 100%, permanent and total service-connected disability or rated as having a service-connected disability due to unemployability, you may be exempt from paying real estate taxes on your primary residence. Surviving spouses can continue to receive this benefit as long as they don’t remarry or move from the primary residence.

• Surviving spouse of service member killed in action. These spouses are also exempt from paying real estate taxes.

Learn more: State officials recommend learning more about these benefits through your local Commissioner of Revenue, found at https://rly.pt/3cNvPr0.

4. Look into trucking and hunting licenses. Interested in trucking during the workweek and hunting on the weekends? Virginia’s veterans win on both counts. Through the state’s Troops to Trucks program, the Department of Motor Vehicles makes it easier for you to obtain your civilian commercial driver’s license to operate large trucks and buses. And with a discounted hunting and fishing license offered through the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries — for disabled military personnel and veterans — it’s cheaper to get outdoors after long hours on the road.

Learn more: Get details about Troops to Trucks at https://rly.pt/2SbPEP1 and about hunting and fishing licenses https://rly.pt/3kYh739.

5. Start a business. After the military, you may choose a career in health care, high tech, the service industry or another business. Or you can become an entrepreneur. Here are a few resources to get your veteran-owned business off the ground in the Old Dominion:

• Consult with one of Virginia’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDC). This is a nationwide business assistance network partly funded by Congress through a partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The network (https://rly.pt/33Ldx5F) gives you access to free and at-cost training to start, grow and expand your small business. Virginia’s SBDC Network State Office https://rly.pt/3il73PY) oversees an in-state network of 27 SBDC centers, which are staffed by experienced business consultants. The network provides general and veteran-specific entrepreneurship guidance through business planning, marketing, financial analysis, access to capital and other services.

• Locate other trainings. Also check out SBA’s Boots to Business training offerings for transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses at https://rly.pt/2ZBUTvp. In addition, find local, no-cost business advisers at https://rly.pt/2E3xICV, https://rly.pt/33A6Xi0 and https://rly.pt/3hy2eTc.

• Get verified as veteran-owned. Once your veteran business is set up, get help getting verified from VA’s Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization (https://rly.pt/3kheSZ6) and start doing business directly with VA, the second largest federal agency.

More resources for Virginia veterans

• Download the booklet, “Virginia Veterans Resource Guide,” which covers both VA and Virginia benefits (PDF): https://rly.pt/3jkuxGf.

• Get the DVS Virginia app: for Android (https://rly.pt/2GbuxtS) or iOS (https://rly.pt/2HKP09p).

• Search the Virginia DVS website: https://rly.pt/3l020Gl.
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CW5 Jack Cardwell
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Thanks for sharing.
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PVT Mark Zehner
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Thank you!
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