As of 2015, there were over 140,000 veterans in Nebraska. Many of those veterans, nearly 40,000, were disabled as a result of their service to their country. Nebraska knows that veterans have unique sets of circumstances and needs that are different from the general public. As such, Nebraska offers a wide range of services and benefits specifically for Veterans and their families. Programs exist to help with educational needs, housing, special health care services, including suicide prevention and substance abuse counseling as well as assistance in the employment sectors. Special state guidelines exist to assist veterans who are in need. Nebraska has made awareness and assistance for homeless veterans a priority and offers a large network of programs detailed to address the housing issues that face them. The following is a brief listing of the more prevalent programs, services and benefits that are available to Nebraska Veterans and their families.
Education Benefits for Nebraska Veterans
Nebraska understand that military experience and training can often translate into educational hours and can benefit the servicemember if he or she decides to go back to college. Nebraska offers a wide range of educational benefits, not only for the servicemember, but in some cases, for his or her family.
The GI Bill has been offered to qualifying veterans for many years. The program covers tuition and other college fees. Most schools accept the GI Bill, so veterans should enquire with their college of choice to be certain.
Waiver of Tuition
Immediate family members of eligible veterans can receive a waiver that will cover all tuition and fees for the University of Nebraska campuses as well as the community and state colleges. This assistance is for those who are pursuing their initial bachelor’s degree and does not cover additional expenses, such as books, housing or meals. Applications must be submitted to the Nebraska VA through the local Veterans’ service offices.
Reservist Tuition Credit
Nebraska offers educational support to reservists as well. Those enlisted members who are considered active can receive a 50 percent reduction of tuition charges when attending state, community or the University of Nebraska college system. The program is limited to only 200 participants a year.
The Montgomery GI Bill
The Montgomery GI Bill has two basic levels of educational assistance for NE veterans. First, active duty members enrolling and paying at least $100 a month during their first year of service are entitled to educational benefits each month once their service obligations end.
The Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) is available to enlisted soldiers in the U.S. military. The second program is basically the same but is for reservists who are active, have at least a six-year obligation and are actively drilling.
Nebraska realizes that in times of war, education often is placed on hold. Many Nebraska veterans left high school before graduation to serve in the armed forces during World War II and the Korean War. This program issues honorary high school diplomas to veterans who were unable to complete their education due to their service to their country. Since this program’s implementation, nearly 1,700 diplomas have been awarded.
Health Benefits for Nebraska Veterans
Health Care for Homeless Veterans (HCHV)
Homeless veterans in Nebraska are being addressed through the implementation of many programs. The HCHV offers transitional assistance for those veterans who are transitioning from living on the street to a stable housing environment. This program works with the VA bridge program, which provides housing, health care and other services while the veteran is receiving safe, stable living conditions.
Homeless Patient Aligned Care Teams (H-PACTs) Program
This program is operated out of the actual VA centers, clinics, and referral centers in the state. The program offers services, medical, housing and counseling, for those homeless veterans who need additional services in addition to housing.
Homeless Veterans Dental Program
Working in conjunction with several state offices, the HVDP offers dental care to eligible veterans and coordinates with housing programs to bring the dental care to the housing centers.
Nebraska Veterans Homes
Currently, there are four homes for veterans in Nebraska. They are located in Grand Island, Bellevue, Norfolk and Scottsbluff. The homes provide skilled nursing care for veterans who served, at one time, on active duty in the military. Eligibility may also be extended to a spouse or Gold Star parent.
Employment Benefits for Nebraska Veterans
Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E)
Veterans who are transitioning back into the civilian workforce often need assistance with training, resume development, employment accommodations and job seeking training. Veterans who are disabled benefit from this program since it can train the disabled veteran, who may not be able to work in a traditional setting, to obtain employment.
State Preference Employment
Nebraska’s governmental job boards give hiring preferences to veterans who have applicable training and job skills for various employment opportunities. Veterans have to create an account on these job boards and prepare to spend some time providing the information required.
Housing Benefits for Nebraska Veterans
The Veterans Administration and the Housing and Urban Department (HUD) offer federal assistance for Veterans who are considered low-income and in danger of homelessness. The program provides rental assistance vouchers (housing choice vouchers) which the Veteran can take into the private sector in order to secure adequate housing. In return, Veterans using this service are required to attend and receive support services that will support the Veteran as he or she deals with other issues such as mental health, substance abuse or disabilities.
Nebraska Veterans Aid Fund (NVA)
This program offers temporary assistance to Veterans and their families who find themselves in an unforeseen emergency situation. Assistance received from this program can only be used for necessities of life, including shelter, food, clothing, funeral arrangements or medical needs.
Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF)
Low-income Veterans can receive supportive services and case management so that a Veteran will not lose his or her home. The program can also seek to relocate a Veteran to a more suitable living circumstance.
VA Loans for Homes
The VA backs loans for Veterans who need to obtain funding to purchase a home, or to repair, renovate or adapt a home. These loans are provided by private lenders, but the VA guarantees a large portion of that loan, which enables the lender to offer the Veteran more favorable terms.