Veteran news

State of Maine veterans’ benefits

Jul 16, 2017

It is great to work in a state that supports our veterans and military with so many benefits and support organizations. I want to share some of them with you.

Tax exemptions

Military pensions: Fully exempt from income tax as of Jan. 1, 2016.

Property tax: $50,000 exemption for paraplegic veterans; $6,000 for 100-percent disabled veterans with or without a service connection or 62 or over. Wartime periods apply.

Homestead exemption: $15,000 in 2016, $20,000 in 2017. Also available for Vietnam veterans with any amount of active duty between Feb. 27, 1961, and May 8, 1975.

Vehicle excise: 100-percent permanent and total, service-connected disabled veterans exempt from one registration fee, title fee, and driver license renewal fee.

Veteran identification

Free copies of DD 214s: You can request a free copy from the Bureau of Veterans’ Services’ archives. It is important to have your DD 214 to prove your veteran status for everything from retail discounts to applying for state and federal benefit programs.

Veteran license plates/Special Veteran Plate

Maine’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles offers honorably discharged veterans (former POWs, Purple Heart recipients, Medal of Honor recipients and disabled veterans) 10 different license plates that are exempt from registration fees. Veterans may also select a Special Veteran License Plate (at a cost) that includes 33 commemorative decals reflecting branches of service, specific awards or commendations, campaign awards for service in a hostile fire zone, and others.

Recreation

Free lifetime veterans park pass: Maine veteran residents who were honorably discharged may receive a free, lifetime park pass that provides complimentary admission for the service member, spouse and children to most Maine state parks and historic sites.

Free active military personnel day-use park pass: Maine’s active duty personnel may receive a free day-use park pass that provides complimentary admission for the service member, spouse and children to most Maine state parks and historic sites.

Disabled veterans free licenses: Veterans with a service-connected disability of 50 percent or more may receive a complimentary license to fish, trap, hunt a range of wildlife (bear, migratory bird, pheasant, wild turkey, among others). The license remains valid for the life of the license holder, as long as the license holder continues to satisfy residency requirements and the license is not revoked or suspended.

Disabled veteran access to state parks: Any veteran displaying a specially designated disabled veteran license plate or other placard (in accordance with Title 29-A, section 523 subsections 1 and 2) is allowed free admission to any state-owned park, camping area or beach.

Eldercare, burial, survivors’ benefits

Maine Veterans’ Homes: With six locations from Caribou to South Paris, Maine Veterans’ Homes provide expert rehabilitative, skilled nursing and long-term care for Maine’s veterans, spouses and Gold Star parents. The homes consistently receive Excellence in Quality Awards from the American Health Care Association, outranking thousands of facilities across the nation.

Maine Veterans Memorial Cemeteries: With two cemeteries in Augusta, one in Caribou, and one in Springvale, Maine offers beautiful final resting places for honorably discharged veterans and their eligible dependents. The cemeteries have received consistently high scores by the National Cemetery Administration, thereby maintaining standards equivalent to those at Arlington and other National Cemeteries.

Gold Star family plates: Gold Star families in Maine may receive a specially designated license plate to honor their fallen family member. Maine’s program is distinct in that it not only provides Gold Star plates to those who lost a family member to combat, but also to those whose family member died while honorably serving as an active member of the U.S. Armed Forces, but did not die in combat. Maine’s program also offers family members the opportunity to create a one-of-a-kind customized, vanity Gold Star plate.

For more information on these benefits and others, please visit maine.gov/veterans/benefits/index.html.

Joy Asuncion is a retired 20-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, an Honor Flight Maine board member, a Maine Troop Greeter and Maine State Ambassador for the Women in Military Service For America Memorial. You can reach Joy at joyasuncion@roadrunner.com or 207-930-5640.

 

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