According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, approximately 112,300 veterans are living in the Aloha State. Find Hawaii state and local veterans benefits including education, employment, healthcare, tax breaks/exemptions, recreation and much more below.
Hawaii Veteran Education Benefits
Hawaii Residency for Tuition Purposes
The State of Hawaii offers residency to military service members stationed in Hawaii, non-resident veterans, and stationed military dependents; this allows them to qualify to attend colleges in Hawaii at resident tuition rates.
Service members may qualify for resident tuition if they meet one of the following requirements:
- S. troops stationed in Hawaii on active duty;
- Hawaii National Guard and Hawaii-based Reserve members.
Nonresident veterans may qualify for resident tuition if they meet one of the following requirements:
- Post 9/11 GI Bill recipients who live in Hawaii and have enrolled within three years of discharge from a period of active duty service of 90 days or more;
- Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty educational benefit recipients who live in Hawaii and have enrolled at the University within three years of discharge from a period of active duty service of 90 days or more.
Nonresident students may qualify for resident tuition if they are authorized dependents stationed in Hawaii during the service member’s active duty assignment. Students may also qualify if utilizing either transferred Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty educational benefits, or transferred Post 9/11 GI Bill educational benefits. Additionally, they must meet the following requirements:
- The transferor of the GI Bill Active Duty educational benefits is serving on active duty;
- GI Bill educational benefits transferees enrolled within three years of the transferor’s discharge from a period of active duty service of 90 days or more;
- Post 9/11 GI Bill educational benefits transferees enrolled at the University within three years of the transferor’s discharge from a period of active duty service of 90 days or more.
Post 9/11 GI Bill educational benefits under the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship transferees who live in Hawaii also qualify for this program.
Hawaii National Guard State Tuition Assistance Program, (STAP)
The Hawaii Army National Guard STAP offers tuition waivers for eligible service members who have completed both Basic Combat Training, and Advanced Individual Training. The waiver covers 100% of community college tuition, and 50% of four-year university tuition.
In order to be eligible for STAP, the following requirements apply;
- Enrollment in an undergraduate degree program;
- Enrollment in courses specific to the degree program;
- A “satisfactory performer” in a Hawaii National Guard unit
STAP may be used in conjunction with G.I. Bill and Federal Tuition Assistance benefits.
Hawaii Kupono Diploma Program for Wartime Veterans
The Hawaii State Department of Education Kupono Diploma Program grants honorary high school diplomas to qualifying veterans of World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
Veterans applying for this program must meet the following criteria;
- Enrollment in a State of Hawaii public high school prior to enlistment
- Proof of honorable discharge
- Military service during a qualifying period (World War II, the Korean War, or Vietnam)
- Qualifying veterans who have successfully completed a General Education Diploma (GED) program may qualify for an honorary high school diploma
- Diplomas be awarded posthumously, or to family members on the veteran’s behalf
Hawaii Veteran Employment Benefits
Hawaii State Veterans Preference for Public Employment
The State of Hawaii Department of Human Resources Development manages the Veterans Preference Program for public employment. Preference points are added to examination scores of applications for open competitive recruitments only.
A five-point veterans preference may be awarded to honorably separated veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces during the following periods:
- December 7, 1941 to July 1, 1955
- For more than 180 consecutive days from Jan. 31, 1955 through Oct. 14, 1976 (Initial active duty for training under Reserve or National Guard programs are exempt)
- During a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge or service medal was authorized
To qualify for preference, copy of the DD-214 showing dates of honorable service must be submitted with the state employment application.
A 10-point veterans preference may be awarded to:
- Honorably discharged veterans with service-connected disabilities
- Purple Heart recipients
- Spouses of honorably separated veterans with service-related disabilities that disqualifies the veteran from State positions in their usual occupation
- An unremarried, surviving spouse of a service member who died on active duty
- An unremarried surviving spouse of an honorably separated veteran who served during the qualifying periods cited above
To receive a 10-point veterans preference, an official statement from the Veterans Administration or the service member’s branch of service within the past 12 months confirming eligibility (based on the above) to receive the preference must be submitted with the state employment application.
Spouses or surviving spouses must also submit evidence of marriage to the eligible veteran, as well as certification of the veteran’s death where applicable.
Hawaii Veteran Housing Benefits
Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home
Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home in Hilo is named for Yukio Okutsu, recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor for service in World War Two. The home is Hawaii’s only post-acute care and rehabilitation service provider specifically for veterans. The home offers dedicated short-term rehabilitation services, residential long-term placement, and an active Adult Day Health Care Program.
Applicants must meet the following criteria:
- 55 years or older
- Honorably discharged
- Rated as eligible by the Department of Veteran Affairs
- Requires skilled or long-term nursing home care, as certified by a physician in compliance with VA, MedQuest, or Medicare standards
- Hawaii residency either prior to military service, or for one year prior to application
- Ability to pay the resident’s portion of cost of care
Applicants must also meet all other clinical criteria for admission and must submit to a background check. No applicant on the Sex Offender Registry or in a fugitive felon status will be considered for admission.
Hawaii Special Housing Assistance for Disabled Veterans
Qualified 100% disabled veterans may receive up to $5,000 from the State of Hawaii for the purpose of purchasing or remodeling a home to improve handicapped accessibility. Award of payments are based on the availability of state funds and approval from Veteran Affairs. Local Office of Veteran Services can provide specific information regarding this program.
Hawaii Veteran Financial Benefits
Hawaii State Vehicle Tax Exemption
The State of Hawaii exempts resident disabled veterans from payment of annual vehicle registration fees for one vehicle per year. This exemption applies to registrations issued or renewed after January 1, 2016, and to vehicles subsidized by the Department of Veterans Affairs. This exemption does not apply to vehicles used for commercial purposes.
Property Tax Exemption For Totally Disabled Veterans
An exemption applies to real property owned and occupied as a home by a totally disabled veteran or their surviving spouse, when the following criteria are met:
- Ownership of the property is recorded at the Bureau of Conveyances on or before June 30 for the first half payment or December 31 for the second half payment.
- All leases must be for a term of 10 years or more and recorded at the Bureau of Conveyances in order for the lessee to qualify for the disability exemption.
- In the case of a lease of Hawaiian homestead land, either lessee and/or spouse shall be entitled to the disability exemption. Proof of marriage must be submitted for the non-Hawaiian spouse claiming the disability.
- The disability shall be certified by a physician.
The applicant must file a claim for the disability exemption before June 30 for the first half payment or December 31 for the second half payment. Once approved, this exemption is valid as long as the recipient veteran remains totally disabled or the surviving spouse remains unmarried. Additionally, recipients do not have to re-apply for the exemption as long as all previously-mentioned requirements continue to be met.
Additional Hawaii Veteran Benefits
Veteran Designation for Hawaii Driver’s Licenses, State IDs, and Instruction Permits
Veterans that have also received a discharge other than dishonorable are eligible for a veteran designation on a Hawaii driver’s license, state ID, or instruction permit.
Applicants must provide proof of qualification for the designation. Acceptable documents include the following:
- Discharge Certificate reflecting characterization of discharge
- Verification letter issued by the Veterans Administration
- Verification letter issued by the Office of Veteran Services
- DD Form 214
- NGB Form 22
Any applicant whose driver’s license, permit, or state ID is not within the renewal period may add the veteran designation. In this case, the applicant must apply for a duplicate and also present supporting documents as listed above. Regular duplicate fees will apply.
Veteran License Plates
The state of Hawaii issues special license plates for military personnel and veterans:
- Combat veterans
- Former prisoners of war
- Purple Heart recipients
- Persian Gulf veterans
- Service veterans
- Vietnam veterans
- World War II veterans
Supporting documentation, such as discharge paperwork and/or VA award letters, may be required. Additionally, military plate availability, fees, and application processes will vary from county to county.
Hawaii Hunting Licenses for Non-resident Service Members and Dependents
When obtaining hunting licenses, active duty military personnel and their dependents are considered to be residents of Hawaii. Non-resident licenses cost $95.00, whereas resident hunting licenses cost $10.00. A hunting license may be obtained at:
- Any Division of Forestry and Wildlife Office (DOFAW)
- Any registered hunting license vendor
Hawaii State Veterans Cemeteries
Hawaii State Veterans Cemeteries (HSVC) are located on Oahu, Hawaii, Kauai, Maui, Molokai, and Lanai. The cemeteries are reserved for the interment of veterans, their spouses, and minor children. Unmarried adult children with physical or mental disabilities who require assistance and support for living and pass before reaching the age of 21 years also are eligible for burial.
Eligibility for burial in one of the Hawaii State Veterans Cemeteries requires a copy of the veteran’s official military discharge document with the character of discharge, i.e., DD Form 214, VA Statement of Service, etc.
Family of the deceased are responsible for mortuary services and other costs. There is a standard plot or interment allowance fee of $700 payable to State of Hawaii, Department of Defense. While the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will pay the plot or interment allowance fee for wartime and peacetime veterans, families are responsible to pay the plot allowance fee for active duty service members and dependents.
In cases where both spouses are veterans, two grave sites and two headstones may be provided at the request of the family. The Hawaii National Guard may provide funeral honors on request.
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