According to the Housing Assistance Council, two-thirds of America’s veteran population is 55 years of age and older — and that number is only expected to rise. With the cost of living also rising every year, seniors living off their pensions can be navigating retirement on a tight budget. This is especially true of our senior veterans, who may have added costs due to service-related disabilities that require medical care and treatment — treatments that can pose a significant financial hardship. For all they’ve given and sacrificed for our country, veterans deserve special treatment. Here’s where and how veterans and their family members can find that special treatment on Veterans Day and throughout the year:
Veterans Advantage is a national program that partners with business and corporations nationwide to make discounts available to veterans. When you sign up to receive a free Veterans Advantage ID card, you’ll have access to these discounts, which range from travel and transportation to retail stores and restaurants. Carry your card with you wherever you go and always ask if a business accepts the card. When making travel plans, or major purchases like a car, be sure to check the Veterans Advantage website to see where you can save. You’d be surprised at the number of businesses listed in the organization’s military discount marketplace!
While car, home and health insurance are unavoidable monthly costs for most of us, many major insurance companies offer discounted premiums to veterans in order to make that monthly cost more affordable. USAA exclusively serves current and former military members and their families, and offers member benefits beyond lowered monthly premiums.
As a veteran, you also have access to free or discounted life insurance and health insurance through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Additionally, you may be eligible for monthly pensions if you’re considered low income, require assistance with activities of daily living or living in a nursing home; your loved ones may be eligible for these pensions as well.
Even if you don’t currently require medical care or assistance, you can still apply for monthly compensations if you have a service-related disability. Through the GI Bill, you and your family members also have access to free or discounted tuition at colleges around the country. And your VA benefits don’t stop there: The Veterans Benefits Administration offers financial, career and education counseling. Visit va.gov to learn more.
Not sure where to start when applying to VA benefits? The free Milisource mobile app lets you plug in your information to see which benefits you qualify for. And if applying for VA benefits seems like a daunting process, you can receive free assistance through Veterans Angels, Inc.
Think retirement can’t be fun on a budget? Museums, zoos, aquariums, movie theaters and amusement parks often offer discounted admissions — all you have to do is ask! Consider calling ahead in case you need certain forms of identification to receive these discounts. Gyms and fitness clubs often offer reduced memberships as well. Gold’s Gym offers 20 percent off monthly memberships for veterans, and the YMCA offers discounted memberships for veterans and free child care for current military members.
On Veterans Day, all national parks offer free entrance to veterans. You may also be eligible for a discounted senior- or free-access pass to use at other times throughout the year. Current military members can receive discounted passes as well. Click here to learn more your eligibility for these passes.
If you’re a sports fan, the NFL runs a Salute to Service program every year, where hundreds of tickets are donated to military members, veterans and their families. Through the Veteran Tickets Foundation, you can receive free tickets to sporting events, along with gift certificates and cash, donated by people around the country.
Champion, Hanes, Kohl’s and Columbia Sportswear are just a few of the clothing stores that offer discounts to veterans. Best Buy, Dell and Microsoft offer discounts on computers and electronics. You can receive a portion off your bill at Chevy Fresh Mex, Buffalo Wild Wings and Boston Market to name a few. Numerous car companies, both foreign and domestic, offer special financing offers and vehicle discounts. View a full list of retail and restaurant discounts here.
While you can often receive some type of discount at any time during the year, on Veterans Day many restaurants offer free meals to veterans. View a full list of these establishments and their offerings here.
Taking advantage of deals and discounts can go a long way toward helping enjoy retirement in comfort, but sometimes just connecting with others who’ve served can make a tremendous difference in your outlook and quality of life. The United Service Organization has locations around the country where military members and veterans can use the internet, play games, watch movies and enjoy a meal while socializing with other vets and soldiers. You may also consider joining a service organization, including Disabled Veterans, American Veterans and The American Legion.