Alaska offers its own veterans benefits
In addition to federal VA benefits, veterans shouldn’t overlook the State of Alaska benefits. Following is a partial list of Alaska Veteran benefits.
Veteran license plates
The State of Alaska Legislature has designated several special license plates for veterans: recipients of the Purple Heart Medal, veterans who have been a Prisoner of War (POW), veterans who are survivors of Pearl Harbor, and Gold Star Families. Plates are issued free of charge after proof of service or family loss is validated by the DVM. There is a $30 plate fee charged to all other applicants for service veterans plates at the time of initial application for or replacement of veteran’s plates and National Guard Plates.
Disabled veteran plates
A vet who qualifies for 50 percent disability may apply for one disabled veteran plate that is not subject to Motor Vehicle Registration Taxes or registration fees.
Drivers license extensions
Effective in June 1997, Alaska adopted a military extension policy that states that your non-commercial driver’s license is valid for 90 days after discharge or return to the State of Alaska, whichever occurs first. Effective Jan. 1, 2011, the policy was extended to military spouses.
Waiver of commercial driving skills test
The DMV may waive the commercial motor vehicle driving test for certain drivers with recent military, commercial motor vehicle experience.
Hunting and fishing licenses
Members of the military service who are on active duty permanently stationed in Alaska, or a dependent of a member of the military service on active duty permanently stationed in Alaska, and who have met residency requirements, may apply for military licenses at the time of license application and pay the same rate as a resident.
Disabled veteran hunting and fishing license
Disabled veteran resident hunting and sport fishing licenses are available at no charge to honorably discharged veterans with a 50 percent or greater service-connected disability and Alaska residency. Applicants must have lived in Alaska for 12 consecutive months immediately preceding the application.
Alaska Marine Highway System
A reduced fare pass is available for travel on Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) vessels for U.S. veterans having a service-connected veteran’s disability. The pass entitles the disabled veteran and an attendant (if required by a physician) to travel at half the regular passenger fare. Reduced fare does not include vehicle or stateroom. The pass is valid for travel between Alaskan ports on all AMHS vessels, year-round.
State camping pass for disabled veterans
The legislature granted Disabled Veterans (DAV) the right to receive one Alaska State Park Camping Pass free of charge. The DAV Camping Pass is valid in all developed Alaska State Park campgrounds and is good for two years.
Alaska Railroad discount
The Alaska Railroad offers a 20 percent discount to active duty, military retirees, and dependents. ID showing proof of status must be shown at boarding.
Recording veterans 'Report of Separation' form
A veteran may record, without fee, the original or a certified copy of his or her Armed Forces Report of Separation (DD-214 Form) at any State Recorder’s office of the Department of Natural Resources.
The Recorder’s office maintains 14 district offices throughout the state, overseeing 34 recording districts that record, index and archive all of the documents that create the Official Public Record of the state of Alaska.
Every eligible veteran is entitled to Military Funeral Honors performed by uniformed members of the armed forces.
Governor’s Advocacy Award
Individuals who demonstrate an extraordinary personal concern, compassion and commitment to veteran’s causes, veterans and their families are eligible for the annual Governor’s Veterans Advocacy Award. A winner could also have formed a new, innovative or creative volunteer program or project that benefits vets. Accomplishments must have been performed on a volunteer basis. Governor’s Veterans Advocacy Award will be presented on Veterans Day, November 11.
Visit the Alaska State VA website at http://veterans.alaska.gov/ to get more details about any of these programs.
I would like to acknowledge Military.com for this information. The website addresses more federal VA benefits.
Mike Dryden is a retired Army Major and current Older Persons Action Group board member.