A Guide to the Best Colorado Veterans Benefits in 2021
According to U.S. Census 2020 figures, nearly 374,000 veterans make their home in colorful Colorado. Numerous Colorado veteran benefits (including Colorado disabled veteran benefits) are available to honor and support Colorado veterans and military retirees. These unique state benefits are in addition to the federal benefits available to all eligible U.S. military veterans regardless of location.
- A Guide to the Best Colorado Veterans Benefits in 2021
- What are the top benefits for Colorado veterans?
- Property Tax Exemptions for Colorado Veterans
- Education-Related Colorado Veterans Benefits
- Are There Employment Benefits for Colorado Veterans?
- Colorado Veteran Vehicle Driver License Benefits
- Colorado Veteran Benefits For Recreation
- Free Admission to Colorado State Parks in August for Colorado Veterans and Service Members
- Free Admission to all Colorado State Parks on Veterans Day (November 11)
- Free Admission to State Parks for Colorado Disabled Veterans
- State Parks Independence Pass for Colorado Disabled Veterans
- Free Lifetime Small Game Hunting and Fishing License for Colorado Disabled Veterans and Purple Heart Recipients
- Colorado Wounded Warrior Big Game Hunting License Program
- Colorado Women Veterans
- Colorado Veterans Community Living Centers
- Colorado Veterans VA Medical Centers, Clinics, and Vet Centers
- Colorado Veterans Benefits: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- MAKE SURE YOU GET ALL THE BENEFITS YOU DESERVE
- About the Author
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What are the top benefits for Colorado veterans?
Colorado veteran benefits specifically include property tax exemptions, education and training programs, employment counseling, driver license designations, resources for women veterans, and recreational discounts for state parks as well as hunting and fishing licenses.
A veteran’s (or service member’s) military branch, career status, and disability status as well as residence status can affect benefit eligibility.
The Colorado Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs (DMVA) administers many of the veterans programs and benefits in Colorado. This is an excellent place to learn about your state’s benefits, and get help with claims and applications.
Before requesting services or submitting applications, visit the County Veterans Service Offices web page to contact the County Veterans Service Office in your county.
Read on for the ultimate guide to top veteran benefits in Colorado for 2021!
Property Tax Exemptions for Colorado Veterans
Disabled Veteran Property Tax Exemption
This program is for disabled veterans who:
- are rated by the VA as 100% permanently and totally disabled (individual unemployability does not qualify), and
- have owned and occupied the property since January 1 of the year in which they are applying
The exemption is 50% of the first $200,000 value of the home. The exemption is for primary residence only.
If you have questions, call the Colorado Department of Military and Veterans Affairs at 970-257-3760. You also may fax an application to the office at 970-245-0782 or email it to [email protected].
Property Tax Deferral Program for Military Seniors and Active Military Personnel
The Property Tax Deferral program helps military personnel and seniors, many of whom live on a fixed income, afford to continue living in their home by deferring the payment of their property taxes.
The State Treasurer’s office makes tax payments directly to the county on behalf of the participant for the tax amount due. The loan is logged as a lien against the participant’s property that does not have to be remitted until the participant no longer qualifies to defer their property taxes. Click here is a list of outstanding loans by county.
Eligibility requirements are as follows:
- Applicant must be 65 years or older, or a person called into military service pursuant to CRS 39-3.5-101 (1.8), on January 1 of the year in which the person files a claim.
- All prior years’ property taxes must be paid.
- Applicant must own and occupy the property as a primary residence. The property cannot be income-producing.
- The total value of liens against the property (mortgages, deferrals, and/or deeds of trust) cannot exceed 100% of the assessed market value.
- Mortgage lender agrees that the state’s interest in the property would take priority over all other interests.
- If a qualified applicant has a reverse mortgage, the property is only eligible for future deferrals if a subordination agreement from the mortgage lender is submitted with the application.
- The deferral amount must be paid upon sale or transfer of the property. The deferral amount can also be paid anytime prior to sale or transfer without affecting future eligibility.
Those who qualify must file an application with their respective county treasurer between January 1 and April 1 of each year. Once the application is approved, the county treasurer will issue a certificate of deferral to the property owner, keeping one copy on record and sending one copy to the state treasurer’s office.
(Note: If property taxes are included in your mortgage payment, you should present a copy of the deferral certificate to the mortgage lender for a refund of the property tax monies held in escrow.)
By April 30, the state treasurer’s office will pay the deferred amount to the county treasurer where the property is located. When the deferred amount is paid to the county treasurer upon sale or transfer of the property, that amount is then transmitted to the state treasurer’s office.
Call the Colorado State Treasurer’s office for the current interest rate.
Education-Related Colorado Veterans Benefits
In addition to the federal VA education benefits, Colorado offers tuition assistance for veterans and service members.
Resident Tuition Rates for Nonresident Service Members, Colorado Veterans, and Families
Veterans, active-duty service members, members of the Colorado National Guard (CONG), and their dependents may qualify for resident tuition rates.
To be eligible, a veteran must have:
- an honorable discharge
- a DD214 dated on or before the first day of the term
- previously been stationed in Colorado on a PCS or TDY/TAD, or be moving to Colorado permanently
A veteran’s child or spouse applying as a student must:
- have a military parent/spouse who was stationed in Colorado within the last 12 years on PCS orders
- be biological or legally adopted (child)
- have been married to the military member (spouse) at the time the member was stationed in Colorado, and at the time the spouse is requesting resident tuition classification.
Consult the DMVA tuition assistance page for a list of participating schools.
Veteran dependents who don’t qualify for this exception may qualify for in-state tuition if the dependent qualifies under the requirements of the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 (Choice Act).
Tuition Assistance for Colorado National Guard
All Colorado National Guard (CONG) members are eligible for state tuition assistance (TA) up to 100% tuition paid at any of the approved schools by Colorado’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA).
State funding can be used in conjunction with federal tuition assistance. The requirements are:
- Minimum of six months of service in the Colorado National Guard; Interstate Transfer (ISTs) and In-Service Recruits (ISRs) are waived from this requirement.
- Drilling status with the Colorado National Guard. If the member leaves drilling status during the semester/quarter for which they are receiving TA, the member must reimburse the DMVA for the whole amount of TA received for that semester.
- Maintain a 2.0 grade point average.
Apply for the Colorado National Guard State Tuition Assistance Program. The application link might not be open for the term in which you wish to apply. Check the boxed information for application open and close dates.
Consult the DMVA tuition assistance page for a list of participating schools.
The University of Colorado-Denver’s “Veteran and Military Student Services” is another valuable resource for Colorado veterans pursuing higher education.
Colorado “Operation Recognition”—High School Diplomas for Wartime Veterans
“Operation Recognition” awards high school diplomas to deserving and qualified World War II, Korea, and Vietnam-era Colorado veterans through the Colorado Board of Veterans Affairs in cooperation with the Colorado Department of Education and the Colorado Association of School Boards.
Upon request, a diploma may be awarded to the honorably discharged veteran or veteran’s family member if they:
- Served in the U.S. Armed Forces during WWII, Korea, or Vietnam
- Left high school before graduating on orders in the U.S. Armed Forces
- Are at least 60 years old
- Have not received a high school diploma (may hold a GED)
- Reside within the school district at the time of request, or
- Resided within the school district when they left to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces
Applicants must fill out the Colorado Operation Recognition Application and provide a copy of their honorable discharge. Applications must be verified by a Colorado Department of Veterans Affairs representative and turned in to the local County Board of Education.
Are There Employment Benefits for Colorado Veterans?
Yes! There are several employment benefits that support Colorado veterans and their families.
Hiring Preferences for Colorado Veterans
Colorado veterans and disabled veterans enjoy preference when applying for federal, state, county, and local government jobs in Colorado.
Five-point preference is given to those honorably separated (either honorable or general discharge) and who served on active duty (excluding active duty for training) in the U.S. Armed Forces:
- During any war declared by Congress
- During the period April 28, 1952, through July 1, 1955
- For more than 180 consecutive days, any part of which occurred after January 31, 1955, and before October 15, 1976
- During the Gulf War period beginning August 2, 1990, and ending January 2, 1992
- For more than 180 consecutive days, any part of which occurred during the period beginning September 11, 2001, and ending on the date prescribed by Presidential proclamation or by law as the last day of Operation Iraqi Freedom; or
- In a campaign or expedition for which a campaign medal has been authorized, such as El Salvador, Lebanon, Granada, Panama, Southwest Asia, Somalia, and Haiti
These preferences are also given to:
- The spouse of a veteran who is unable to work because of a service-connected disability
- The surviving spouse of a deceased veteran who was or would have been entitled to veterans’ preference
- Medal holders and Gulf War veterans who enlisted after September 7, 1980, or entered active duty on or after October 14, 1982, without having previously completed 24 months of continuous active duty (must have served continuously for 24 months, or the full period called or ordered to active duty).
Ten preference points are awarded to honorably separated Colorado veterans who have a service-connected disability and/or are receiving compensation, disability retirement benefits, or pension from the military or the VA.
Proof of eligibility must be provided before points are allowed. The following constitute accepted proof:
- For veterans, a DD214 reflecting dates of service, type of discharge, and, if appropriate, a campaign badge or service medal
- For disabled veterans, a DD214 and proof of disability in the form of a letter from the VA verifying that the veteran is currently receiving monetary benefits or has a disability retirement
- For spouses of veterans unable to work due to a service-connected disability, a DD214, proof of the disability as outlined above, and a copy of the marriage license
- For surviving spouses of deceased veterans, a DD214, a copy of the marriage license, a copy of the death certificate, and a signed statement from the surviving spouse that they have not remarried
Priority of Service at Colorado Workforce Centers
All Colorado veterans receive priority of service at all Colorado Workforce Centers across the state for assistance with employment, training, and placement services. Many workforce centers are staffed with a local, dedicated veterans employment representative who provides one-on-one service to veterans.
Colorado Workforce Center services to Colorado veterans include:
- Workshops for resumé preparation, interviewing techniques, and job searches
- On-the-job training
- Information on wage rates and employment trends
- Vocational guidance and career counseling
- Referrals to services within the community
- Access to phone, internet, printer, fax and copy machines
Colorado veterans may receive one-on-one career coaching from a fellow veteran. These specialists know firsthand what businesses are looking for in a résumé, and the questions employers are likely to ask in an interview. The guidance they provide includes:
- Resumé and cover letter writing
- Interview tips and techniques
- Translating military experience to civilian responsibilities
- Identifying education, training, and experience requirements
- Navigating online job boards and career fair resources
- Targeting your job search by industry
For more information and locations, contact your local Colorado Workforce Center.
Colorado Recognizes Military Education, Service, and Training
Veterans can often receive credit toward licensure qualifications for their military training, service, and education. Additionally, many professions and occupations have adopted rules or policies specifically designed to assist Colorado veterans and service members when applying military training, service, and education.
A rule has been promulgated for each profession and occupation to implement this state law and can be accessed via the relevant board or program page on the Division of Professions and Occupations (DPO’s) website.
DORA for Professional Licenses
The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) licenses and regulates more than 50 professions and occupations in the state of Colorado and is committed to providing professional support and customer service to veterans and their families.
The DORA website shares resources on special programs and initiatives to help transfer existing credentials from other states, maintain Colorado credentials, or acquire Colorado credentials during military service or the transition to civilian life.
Military License Reinstatement
The Division of Professions and Occupations has implemented Colorado legislation to establish reinstatement for a military member’s expired professional license. License reinstatement may be available to service members currently on active duty for a minimum of 30 days, and to honorably discharged Colorado veterans.
The requirements for reinstatement are specified in state law and generally include submission of an application, payment of fees, and compliance with the applicable practice act. For licenses expired more than two years, demonstration of competency to practice may also be required.
To apply for a professional license reinstatement, submit a copy of your official orders or other official documentation that clearly identifies how you meet the reinstatement requirements to [email protected]
Relocated Military Spouse Licensure
A military spouse who must relocate to Colorado due to military orders, and holds an active license in good standing from another state, may practice in most professions regulated by the Colorado DPO for up to one year without a Colorado license.
The one-year time frame begins on the day the spouse takes residency in Colorado. During the one-year exemption period, spouses are subject to the jurisdiction and disciplinary authority of either the DPO director or the appropriate regulating board or commission. Spouses must obtain a Colorado license before the end of their first year of residency in Colorado. Applications are found on each profession’s web page.
All of the professions regulated by DPO are eligible for this one-year license exemption except:
- Professional engineers and interns
- Professional land surveyors and interns
- Architects, optometrists, physicians, physician assistants, and anesthesia assistants
Colorado Veteran Vehicle Driver License Benefits
Colorado allows eligible applicants to add a veteran indicator, military identifier, or both to their driver license or ID card. The word Veteran may be printed on the driver license or ID card. The veteran must present an original member 4 copy of the DD214 indicating an honorable discharge or a valid military ID card at a driver license office.
A military identifier may be added to the driver’s license or ID card of veterans and service members. Only one such identifier may be added to any document (Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, National Guard, or Navy). Military identifiers from other states do not transfer.
Applicants must present one of the following documents at a driver license office:
- Original member 4 copy of the DD214
- Valid military identification card
- Valid common access card
Once the veteran indicator and/or military identifier has been added to the driver license or ID card, no additional documentation is required at renewal.
Colorado Military and Veteran License Plates
Colorado’s Division of Motor Vehicle Services offers 39 distinctive license plates to Colorado veterans, disabled veterans, retirees, and qualifying family members.
Available plate styles include (but are not limited to):
- Purple Heart
- Medal of Honor
- Purple Heart
- Honorably Discharged Veteran
- Disabled Veteran (not for disable-designated parking)
- Branch of Service
- Military Campaign
To see all that’s available, visit the Division of Motor Vehicles License Plate-Military web page.
Apply in person:
Division of Motor Vehicles
Department of Revenue
1881 Pierce St.
Lakewood, Colo. 80214-3503
Apply by mail:
Department of Revenue
Title and Registration Sections
P.O. Box 173350
Denver, Colo. 80217-3350
Colorado Veteran Benefits For Recreation
Colorful Colorado offers spectacular scenery and preferential treatment for Colorado veterans, disabled veterans, retirees, and their families to enjoy the great outdoors.
Free Admission to Colorado State Parks in August for Colorado Veterans and Service Members
Colorado veterans and service members are admitted free to state parks for the month of August. Show proof of military service and obtain the free pass from any Colorado state park or Colorado Parks and Wildlife office. The veteran or service member must be in the vehicle when using the pass. All other park fees (camping, etc.) are still charged.
Free Admission to all Colorado State Parks on Veterans Day (November 11)
Active-duty and veterans are admitted free to Colorado state parks on Veterans Day with proof of military service (photo ID, DD214). All other park fees apply.
Free Admission to State Parks for Colorado Disabled Veterans
Colorado residents with current Colorado Disabled Veteran license plates may access Colorado state parks free without a pass on the windshield. The plates are obtained through the Division of Motor Vehicles. The disabled veteran must be with the vehicle.
This covers admission only and does not cover camping.
State Parks Independence Pass for Colorado Disabled Veterans
Qualifying Colorado disabled veterans may obtain a free Independence Pass which provides unlimited access to all Colorado state parks. The approval in the program is valid for the life of the individual as long as they live in Colorado.
Colorado disabled veterans may:
- Obtain a free Independence Pass each year as long as they remain residents
- Transfer the pass between vehicles, allowing the Independence Pass holder and others in the same vehicle to enter the park. The disabled veteran must be present for the pass to be valid.
- Visit any of Colorado’s state parks for 12 continuous months from the issue date.
(Note: Visitors to Cherry Creek State Park are charged an additional $3 annual fee for the Water Basin Authority.)
To qualify for the Independence Pass, you must be a Colorado resident and provide proof from the VA stating that you were honorably discharged and are receiving compensation for a 50% or greater disability (if there are multiple ratings, the combined rating must equal 50% or greater), loss of one or both hands or feet, or permanent loss of vision in both eyes.
Free Lifetime Small Game Hunting and Fishing License for Colorado Disabled Veterans and Purple Heart Recipients
Colorado veterans with a service-connected disability of 60%, and Purple Heart recipients who can provide documented proof, are also eligible for a lifetime fishing and small-game combination license (VA Combo License).
For more information and to apply, see the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Accessibility webpage.
Colorado Wounded Warrior Big Game Hunting License Program
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission (CPW) sets aside a number of free licenses for members of the Wounded Warrior or Safe Harbor program. While there are limits on the number of licenses that can be issued (100 each female deer, elk, and pronghorn, and 100 total male deer, elk, and pronghorn), CPW strives to issue as many of these licenses as possible.
To be eligible:
- Must be a member of the U.S. Armed Forces and a Colorado resident or be stationed in Colorado
- Must be returning from post-September 11, 2001, overseas contingency operation
- Must be assigned to a military medical treatment facility at the time of application
- Must be a qualifying member of the U.S. Armed Services Wounded Warrior or Safe Harbor program
For more information, contact the Limited Licensing Unit at 303-291-7380.
Colorado Women Veterans
Recognizing that more than 44,000 Colorado veterans are women, the Colorado Department of Military and Veterans Affairs website devotes a page to Colorado Women Veterans.
Native American Colorado Women Veterans
The VA’s Office of Tribal Government Relations (OTGR) works to strengthen and build closer relations between the VA, tribal governments and other key federal, state, private and non-profit partners to serve veterans across Indian Country.
Colorado’s efforts focus on three important goals: facilitating VA’s Tribal Consultation Policy, increased access to health care, and helping Colorado veterans access fiscal, educational, housing, and other special programs and benefits. Colorado wants veterans to be aware of the full range of services and benefits available to them.
Office of Tribal Government Relations Specialist
(Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah)
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (928) 445-4860 x5306
Colorado Veterans Community Living Centers
Colorado’s five Veterans Community Living Centers are supportive, resident-centered long-term care living environments serving honorably discharged Colorado veterans, their spouses/widows, and Gold Star parents of children who died while serving in the Armed Forces. There are five locations:
- Colorado Veterans Community Living Center at Fitzsimons
- Bruce McCandless Colorado Veterans Community Living Center at Florence
- Colorado Veterans Community Living Center at Homelake
- Colorado Veterans Community Living Center at Rifle
- Spanish Peaks Colorado Veterans Community Living Center at Walsenburg
Long-term care or short-term rehabilitation are both offered at these centers. Medical criteria must be met. The Colorado Department of Human Services admission team works with family members to gather the necessary paperwork and ensure that the prospective resident’s medical needs are addressed.
Colorado Veterans Community Living Centers offer the following services and features:
- Long-term care: Includes skilled nursing care; speech, physical and occupational therapy; social activities; assistance with bathing, dressing, and other daily activities.
- Short-term rehabilitation: Individuals seeking to return home following a qualifying hospital stay can work to regain skills and improve physical strength, endurance, and aerobic capacity through Medicare-certified rehabilitation services.
- Domiciliary cottages (similar to assisted living): The Veterans Community Living Center at Homelake (Monte Vista) offers assisted living-like services in 48 recently renovated cottages.
- Memory care services: Specialized care for individuals with dementia is offered in all Veterans Community Living Centers. Secure units are available at the Veterans Community Living Centers at Fitzsimons, Florence, Rifle, and Walsenburg.
- Short-term “respite” care: Respite care can provide a helpful option when homecare providers are unavailable. These short-term stays are offered at the Veterans Community Living Centers at Florence, Homelake, Rifle, and Walsenburg.
- End-of-life/hospice services: Comfort-oriented care is offered at Veterans Community Living Centers.
Colorado Veterans VA Medical Centers, Clinics, and Vet Centers
Colorado Veterans Benefits: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Are there special tax exemptions available to Colorado disabled veterans?
Definitely. Veterans who are rated 100% disabled by the VA, and have owned and are the primary occupants of the property since January 1 of the year they are applying, are exempt from 50% of the first $200,000 of the home’s value.
Additionally, veterans who are over 65 may defer property tax payments.
Is employment assistance available to Colorado veterans?
The State of Colorado offers multiple services to Colorado veterans seeking employment. Colorado Workforce Centers, located statewide, give priority to the state’s veterans as they offer workshops, training, wage information, vocational guidance, referrals, and more. Colorado veterans may receive one-on-one career coaching from a fellow veteran who knows what businesses are looking for and the questions employers are likely to ask. Colorado veterans and disabled veterans also receive preference when applying for federal, state, county, and local government jobs in Colorado.
Does Colorado recognize veterans’ military training and experience?
Yes. Colorado veterans can receive credit toward professional licenses for their military training, service, and education. There are rules for each profession and occupation, found here. Colorado veterans and their spouses may more easily transfer certifications from out of state as well.
Does the state address the needs of Colorado women veterans?
Without a doubt, and to an extent not seen in a lot of other states: Recognizing that more than 44,000 Colorado veterans are women, the Colorado Department of Military and Veterans Affairs website devotes a page to Colorado Women Veterans.
Are there special driver’s licenses available to Colorado veterans?
Colorado allows eligible applicants to add a veteran indicator, service-branch identifier, or both to their driver license or ID card. The word Veteran may be printed on the driver license or ID card if the veteran presents an original Member 4 copy of the DD214 indicating an honorable discharge or a valid military ID card at a driver license office. Only one such identifier may be added to any document (Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, National Guard, or Navy). Military identifiers from other states do not transfer.
Can Colorado veterans get special license plates for their vehicle?
Yes, plenty of them! Colorado’s Division of Motor Vehicle Services offers 39 distinctive license plates to Colorado veterans, disabled veterans, retirees, and qualifying family members. You can see all of them here.
Do Colorado disabled veterans get a special deal on hunting and fishing licenses?
Colorado veterans with a service-connected disability of 60% and Purple Heart recipients who can provide documented proof are eligible for a lifetime fishing and small-game combination license (VA Combo License).
MAKE SURE YOU GET ALL THE BENEFITS YOU DESERVE
Regardless of what state you live in, it’s important that you pursue the monthly compensation payments due to you for disabilities connected to your military service.
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If you’ve filed your VA disability claim and have been denied or have received a low rating – or you’re not sure how to get started – reach out to us for a FREE VA Claim Discovery Call, so you can FINALLY get the disability rating and compensation you deserve. We’ve supported more than 15,000 veterans to win their claims and increase their ratings. NOW IT’S YOUR TURN.
About the Author
About VA Claims Insider
VA Claims insider is an education-based coaching/consulting company. We’re here for disabled veterans exploring eligibility for increased VA disability benefits and who wish to learn more about that process. We also connect veterans with independent medical professionals in our referral network for medical examinations, disability evaluations, and credible Independent Medical Opinions & Nexus Statements (Medical Nexus Letters) for a wide range of disability conditions.