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You can get a VA loan with just about any lender anywhere, right?

Possibly.

But some VA lenders are just better than others.

Yes, many mortgage lenders offer VA loans, but they don’t specialize in the loan type.

For that reason, we’ve compiled this list of the best VA loan companies and/or lenders available in the marketplace. We’ve selected them based on their specialization in VA loans, as well as – in some cases – other financial services they provide.

The list is presented in no special order, but we have given the top three slots to lenders who specialize in loans and/or financial services for consumers with military service backgrounds.

10 Best VA Loan Lenders in 2018
  1. Veterans United*
  2. USAA*
  3. Navy Federal Credit Union*
  4. Quicken Loans
  5. JG Wentworth
  6. Loan Depot
  7. FlagStar
  8. Wells Fargo
  9. Prime Lending
  10. LendingTree

*represent lenders who specialize in those with military service backgrounds

If you want to see VA loan rates, here’s a quick look:

Veterans United Home Loans

The biggest advantage of Veterans United is that it’s a mortgage lender established specifically for the benefit of providing VA loans to veterans. The company was founded in 2002, in Columbia Missouri – where it’s still located.

The company now has more than 2,400 employees operating in 25 offices across the country.

Not only do they have in-house processing, underwriting and closing teams, but they also work with former senior enlisted members from each branch of the armed forces.

These military advisers have made it their mission to educate veterans about homeownership and the benefits of VA loans.

They offer mortgages for both purchases and refinances of existing VA loans. They currently offer fixed rate mortgages with terms of 15 years or 30 years. However, they don’t offer adjustable-rate VA mortgages.

They also provide 24/7 customer service, which is unusual in the mortgage industry.

Veterans United’s website is extremely comprehensive, walking the veteran through the entire VA mortgage process. They offer related services, such as Veterans United Realty, which represents a network of veteran-friendly real estate agents.

As well, they offer the Veterans United Lighthouse program, which is a free service designed to help homebuyers improve their financial profile in advance of the homebuying process.

USAA

USAA is another financial services company set up with the military in mind. In fact, USAA was founded in 1922 by a group of 25 US Army officers, primarily to provide mutual self-insurance for automobile coverage.

They’ve since expanded to many other financial services, including mortgages, and especially VA loans.

The service claims nearly 12 million members. In order to work with the company, you have to meet certain military service requirements, or be the spouse or child of a current member.

USAA offers VA fixed rate mortgages, with 30, 20, 15 and 10-year terms. They also offer the VA 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage. Loans are available for both purchase and refinance.

But in addition, USAA also offers conventional mortgages.

This could be important because there are certain situations where a conventional mortgage may be preferable to a VA loan, in addition to the fact that the veteran may want to retain VA eligibility for a different property.

One of the major advantages to getting a VA loan through USAA is the wide variety of other financial services they provide. You can start out with a mortgage, and then add services as you need them.

Or you could be a current USAA customer with another financial product, taking advantage of the VA loan programs they offer.

In addition to mortgage financing, USAA offers banking services, many insurance products, as well as investing and financial planning.

Navy Federal Credit Union

Navy Federal Credit Union, or simply Navy Federal, was founded in 1933, specifically to work with members of the Navy. However, it has since expanded to cover all members of the military, regardless of branch.

It even extends to members of the Army and Air National Guard, Delayed Entry Program (DEP), DoD Officer Candidate/ROTC, DoD Reservists, veterans, retirees and annuitants.

One of the major advantages of dealing with Navy Federal is that it is a credit union. In fact, it’s the largest credit union in the US, in terms of both asset size and membership.

Navy Federal currently has more than 7.5 million members, and over $90 billion in assets. And as a credit union, they also offer complete banking services, IRAs, credit cards, car loans, personal loans and student loans.

For VA loans, Navy Federal offers both 15 year and 30 year fixed rate loans, but no adjustable-rate loans.

They also offer VA Streamline Refinances, which enable you to do an interest rate reduction refinance loan (IRRRL) on an existing VA mortgage to lower your rate. One of the benefits of the streamline refinance is that no appraisal or inspections are required on your home.

The credit union has nearly 300 branches across the country, and nearly 580 ATMs. They also maintain 24/7 customer service through their call centers.

Quicken Loans

Based in Detroit, Michigan, Quicken Loans, along with its Rocket Mortgage arm, is the largest retail mortgage lender in the country. They’ve closed more than $400 billion in mortgage volume between 2013 and 2017.

The company operates in all 50 states, and has more than 24,000 employees nationally.

If it has a significant drawback, it’s that it has no local branches. Quicken Loans operates entirely online. But that also has its advantages. You can make application online, and get a loan decision issued in a matter of minutes after completing your application.

Quicken Loans offers VA mortgages. They’ll work directly with the Veteran’s Administration to get your Certificate of Eligibility, and other paperwork needed to qualify for the loan.

One big advantage with Quicken Loans is that they service nearly all of their loans in-house. That means the servicing on your loan is unlikely to be sold to another company, as is usually the case with most mortgage lenders.

Quicken Loans offers fixed rate, 30, 20 and 15 year loans, as well as the 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage for VA loans. They even offered Jumbo VA loans for as much is $1.5 million. They do require a minimum credit score 620.

And like some of the other lenders on this list, they also offer conventional and FHA mortgages, in case you want to save your eligibility for another property.

JG Wentworth

JG Wentworth is a direct mortgage lender, in business since 1992. They maintain a policy of “customer-first” mortgage lending, helping the borrower to feel in control during every step of the process.

The company also offer some of the lowest interest rates in the industry. The company has an A+ rating (ranging from A+ to F) with the Better Business Bureau, where they have been accredited since 1996.

As a full-service mortgage lender, JG Wentworth offers conventional and FHA mortgages, in addition to VA loans. The company offers VA loans for both purchases and refinancing.

On the refinancing side, they offer the interest rate reduction refinance loan, as well as cash-out refinances.

They offer fixed rate VA loans with terms of 30, 20 and 15 years, as well as adjustable-rate mortgages. The company has more than 20 branch locations located around the country.

loanDepot

You’re not reading that name wrong – it’s loanDepot, beginning with a lowercase “l”, with an uppercase “D” in the middle. But the peculiar name aside, loanDepot is one of the largest mortgage lenders in the country.

They’re headquartered in Southern California, but they have more than 6,500 employees across the country, operating in more than 180 local loan locations nationwide.

They’ve funded more than $100 billion in loans, including $70 billion in refinances.

As a full-service mortgage lender, loanDepot offers a full range of mortgage products, including conventional and FHA mortgages, as well as home equity lines of credit.

VA loans include VA cash out refinance loans, interest rate reduction refinance loans, and loans for purchases.

One disadvantage with loanDepot is limited customer service availability. They’re available only Monday through Friday, from 5:00 AM to 7:00 PM, and Saturdays, 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM, all times Pacific. They are not available on Sundays.

Flagstar Bank

Flagstar Bank is a Michigan-based bank, with branches in the Midwest, but they offer mortgages in all 50 states.

As a bank, they offer the advantage of the various banking services they provide, including, checking, savings, credit cards, health savings accounts, IRAs, auto loans, recreational loans, and both online and mobile banking.

They’re also a full-service mortgage lender, and one of the more prominent mortgage companies in the country. They offer conventional loans, FHA, Jumbo loans, and even construction and renovation loans.

And yes, Flagstar offers VA loans. They’re available for both purchase and refinance.

They offer the VA fixed rate mortgage, ranging in terms from 10 years to 30 years. They also offer two types of the VA adjustable-rate mortgage, with a three year and a five-year initial fixed rate term (then converting to a one-year adjustable).

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo is one of the very largest banks in the United States (#3 to be precise). As of the end of 2017, they had total deposits of $1.3 trillion, and $2 trillion dollars in total assets.

The bank also has 70 million customers, 8,300 branch locations, and 13,000 ATMs.

The bank naturally provides all of the services you would expect, including checking and savings accounts, credit cards, auto loans, student loans and mortgages and home equity lines of credit.

Mortgages include conventional and FHA loans, as well as VA mortgages. On VA loans, they offer both fixed and adjustable-rate loans.

One of the big advantages of Wells Fargo is the many thousands of branches they have available. That will enable you to initiate and complete the mortgage application process on a face-to-face level.

It may, in fact, be a preferred lender for anyone who prefers the traditional mortgage loan application process, complete with a human face.

PrimeLending

PrimeLending may not be a household name, but it is one of the top mortgage lenders in the country, with an ”A” rating from the Better Business Bureau.

Based in Dallas, Texas, the company has almost 1,500 loan officers located throughout the country.

The company is strictly a mortgage lender, and offers conventional, Jumbo and FHA mortgages, as well as VA mortgages.

They offer the VA fixed rate mortgage with terms of 15 and 30 years, as well as the VA adjustable-rate mortgage. You can also apply for a VA Jumbo loan, enabling you to purchase a home for as much is $1 million.

Lending Tree

Lending Tree is a bit different than the other lenders on this list. For starters, Lending Tree isn’t even a lender. It’s actually an online lending exchange, that gives borrowers an opportunity to obtain financing from a wide variety of lenders.

The company was founded in 1998, and has participated in more than 32 million loan requests since.

Lending Tree offers virtually every type of financing available. In addition to home mortgages, they also offer personal loans, auto loans, business loans, and home equity loans.

They also offer credit cards, student loans, insurance and credit repair. Over the years, Lending Tree has developed into a well-diversified financial platform, offering every type of service needed.

You’ll find loan programs available for every type of mortgage as well. This includes conventional and FHA financing, in addition to VA loans. VA loans are available for both purchase and refinance.

In order to get the process going, you will fill out a series of questions on the website.

You’ll then be directed to various lenders who can provide for your loan needs. This will create competition between lenders, enabling you to choose the one you feel will work best for you.

Final Thoughts on Our Top VA Loan Lenders

If you search the web, or ask friends, coworkers and others, who the best VA loan companies are, most of the companies on this list are likely to come up. Choose the one with the most personal recommendations, and then investigate the specific service levels they provide.

Virtually hundreds of mortgage lenders offer VA loans, but few specialize in the field.

A VA loan is a very specific type of mortgage, and best handled by lenders who do them most frequently. Some of the lenders on this list even have current or former members of the military on staff in an advisory capacity. This will help to deal with the specific requirements that active duty military members in particular are likely to have.

Not all mortgage lenders are the same, and when it comes to VA loans, you’re best to go with the companies that specialize in these programs.

Not only will there be a greater likelihood of loan approval, but you’re likely to find the loan application process faster and much more pleasant.

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Thank you H&R Block for sponsoring this post. While this was a sponsored opportunity from H&R Block, all content and opinions expressed here are my own.

Filing your taxes isn’t always fun. But it doesn’t have to be a complicated process or take a long time. If your situation is fairly basic, you can file your taxes in less than half an hour. Of course, the more complicated your situation, the more time it may take.

Regardless of how complicated your situation is, you can make the process faster and easier by using a checklist to gather your paperwork and other records. It’s a good idea to make sure you have everything you need before starting your tax return. This includes your required tax paperwork, account numbers if requesting an electronic refund, and the tax software program to make the job easier.

Let’s take a look at everything you need to prepare your taxes, and possibly even find some last minute tax deductions.

Gather Your Personal Information and Tax Forms

This is the most important step for preparing your taxes. Spending some time to gather the required paperwork before you start will prevent you from starting and stopping your return while you go look for documents you may have forgotten about. That’s why I recommend having a tax prep checklist before you start your tax return.

Over the years I’ve created my own checklist for personal use, based on my previous tax returns. If you don’t already have your own, I recommend checking out this tax prep checklist from H&R Block. You can use the basic checklist, or use their tool to create a customized version.

Which Information and Tax Forms Do You Need?

You will need to gather all the personal information for yourself and each of the dependents who will be on your tax return (if applicable). Make sure you have the full name, birthdate, and Social Security Number for each person on your tax return. You will also need records of your income and tax deductions and a copy of last year’s tax return if you have it handy. Note: H&R Block makes it easy to import a pdf copy of last year’s tax return.

Some military members may ave special tax considerations. Be sure to check out these military tax tips to help you understand some situations you may face when you file your taxes, and which forms you may need.

The following are some examples of the tax forms or information you may need. Just use this as a starting point because each situation is unique.

Common Tax Forms for Income (this is not an exhaustive list):

  • W-2 (from your employer)
  • Savings and Investments: Form 1099-INT, 1099-DIV, 1099-B, 1099-S, 1099-SA, etc.
  • Retirement Income – Form 1099-R, 1099-SSA, etc.
  • Self-employment income – 1099-MISC
  • Copies of any other 1099s you may have received
  • Records of any other income you received, as well as associated expenses, if applicable.

Common Tax Deductions and Related Forms (this is not an exhaustive list):

  • Charitable contributions
  • Mortgage interest – Form 1098
  • Other Form 1098s
  • Proof of Health Insurance Form 1095-A, or 1095-B and/or 1095-C
  • Child care expenses
  • Any other expenses that may be tax deductible
  • Any applicable military

When are tax forms available? Most tax forms are sent out by the middle or end of January. Some tax forms are released later in the tax season. So watch your mailbox and/or your online accounts for more information. Most military tax forms are released by the end of January.

Determine How You Will Prepare Your Taxes

You generally have three options for filing your taxes: paper, tax preparation service, or tax prep software. My preferred method is filing electronically, either with a tax preparation software program, or a professional tax preparation service. But the latter is only necessary for very complicated situations. The vast majority of tax returns can be filed with a commercial tax software program such as H&R Block Online. And if you have a basic tax return, you may be able to file free with H&R Block MoreZero.

Filing a paper tax return is my least favorite method. Paper returns take longer to process, are more prone to errors (either on the preparation side, or when being processed by the IRS), and you are more liable to miss money-saving tax deductions. Finally, the longer it takes to process your return, the longer it takes to process your refund if you have one coming your way.

Most tax software programs are faster and easier to use and will often help you find ways to save even more money than if you do your taxes by hand. For most situations, using tax preparation software is the easiest and most cost-effective method.

Find out if you can file your tax return for free with H&R Block MoreZero.

Look for Last-Minute Tax Savings

You may be able to save on your taxes up to the time you file your return. Make sure you have taken advantage of all last-minute savings, such as contributing to a tax-deductible IRA, or a self-employed retirement account if you are eligible.

Most commercial tax software will also help you find tax deductions you may not have even know you were eligible to receive.

For example, The IRS has reported that approximately 20% of people who are eligible to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) fail to claim it. That’s 1 in 5 people who are missing out on a very big tax credit that can help them save big on their tax return. You can learn more about how to qualify for the EITC here.

Using a tax software program such as H&R Block Online will help you identify these potential tax savings and claim them if you are eligible.

File Your Tax Return

Once you have all your paperwork together and you’ve decided how you will file your taxes, it’s time to get started.

Grab your paperwork, set aside some time, and get started. Tax software has come a long way in the last few years. The software is powerful enough and easy enough to use that you can even file your tax return from your smartphone or tablet. Check out H&R Block’s Tax Prep App here.

Of course, H&R Block still offers an online version and a version you can download for either Windows or Mac. You can easily switch back and forth between the mobile app and desktop version or online app if you prefer to work on a larger screen.

H&R Block makes it easy to import documents such as your W-2. With H&R Block Snap-a-Pic, you can take a picture of your W-2 with your phone and import it to your tax return.

The H&R Block software walks you through an interview process about your income, expenses, and financial situation. This information is used to help find potential tax deductions. The entire tax return process is streamlined and easy. And it’s guaranteed to be 100% accurate and get you the maximum refund.

After You File Your Taxes

Your job is almost over. Once you file your taxes, you have to either send the government a check for the amount you owe them, or await your tax refund (the latter is better, of course!). You can use the H&R Block tax refund status tool to track your refund.

I will also give you one more recommendation: keep a file of your tax-related documents up to date throughout the year. I simply keep a large manila envelope in my desk drawer and I place all relevant documents, forms, and receipts in there throughout the year (right after I scan them into a file folder organized by tax year).

This ensures you keep all your tax documents up to date throughout the year. It will save you a lot of time when it comes time to file your taxes next year. Here is an overview of my tax organization system.

What Are you Waiting for? Let’s Get Started!

Filing your tax return doesn’t have to be difficult. Get started with this Tax Prep Checklist, gather your documents, and then start with your return.

Using a tax prep software program like H&R Block will guide you through a step-by-step interview process to make sure you don’t miss any potential sources of income, tax deductions, or other relevant information.

To top it off, H&R Block has audit protection and guarantees 100% accuracy, and guarantees a maximum refund. So you can rest easy knowing your tax return is as good as it’s going to get. And if you qualify for H&R Block MoreZero*, your tax return may be free to file.

You can’t beat free!

*H&R Block Online offers several tax return plans, including the following:

  • H&R Block MoreZero – free
  • Deluxe Online Tax Filing – starting at $34.99 (Best for Homeowners and Deductions)
  • Self-Employed Online Tax Filing – starting at $74.99 (Best for Investors and Rental Property Owners)

The best plan for your needs will depend on your overall tax situation. Compare all H&R Block plans to learn more!

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When it comes to filing a federal tax return, there are a few questions that people care about more than any other – how much am I paying on taxes, how much will I get back in my tax refund, and when will I receive it? Everything else, the say, is just details.

There is no quick and easy answer to the first two questions. However, we can give you a rough idea of when you will receive your tax refund, but only if you file your federal taxes electronically using a software program or with the IRS E-File. Expect longer delays if you file your return on paper, because it takes longer for the IRS to process your paperwork. The tax refund chart below offers more information on when to expect tax refunds.

Learn how military members can file taxes for free.

IRS Refund Schedule for Direct Deposits and Check Refunds

The following tax refund table is based on previous refund tables released by the IRS to help tax payers know when they should receive their tax refund. The IRS moved to the Modernized E-file System (MEF) in 2013 (2012 tax year). The IRS only issued refunds once per week under the old system. They now issue refunds every business day, Monday through Friday (except holidays).

Due to changes in the IRS auditing system, they no longer release a full schedule as they did in previous years. The following chart is based on IRS statements, published guidelines, and estimates from past years. This IRS refund schedule should only be used as a rough guideline.

To use the tax refund chart:

  • Use the left hand column to look up the date your tax refund was accepted by the IRS
  • Use the middle or right column to look up when you should receive your refund (depending on how you requested your refund—direct deposit or paper check).

If you filed your taxes with E-File, you should receive a confirmation that your federal tax return was accepted by the IRS. This date will go in the left column. If you didn’t file your taxes electronically, then this chart may not be useful for you for two reasons: you won’t have a confirmation date regarding when your tax return was accepted, and paper tax returns are manually entered by IRS employees, so the process takes longer.

You will also note that this chart covers dates beyond the traditional filing date. If you file after April 17, 2018, then you should file a tax extension request. It’s simple, and can potentially save you a lot of money in penalties. Note: Some military members may be eligible additional tax deadline extensions if they were deployed or served overseas during the tax year.

Note: The IRS announced the official first day to file tax returns is January 29, 2018. However, in some previous years, the IRS has accepted tax returns early, or delayed the acceptance of returns, depending on technical issues. We will update this article to reflect that information if we hear about it this year. You can try to extrapolate the refund date based on the the below chart.

Tax Return Accepted By IRS before 11:00 am between… Direct Deposit Sent* Paper Check Mailed*
Jan 29 and Feb 04, 2018 Feb 12, 2018 Feb 16, 2018
Feb 05 and Feb 11, 2018 Feb 19, 2018 Feb 23, 2018
Feb 12 and Feb 18, 2018 Feb 26, 2018 Mar 2, 2018
Feb 19 and Feb 25, 2018 Mar 5, 2018 Mar 9, 2018
Feb 26 and Mar 04, 2018 Mar 12, 2018 Mar 16, 2018
Mar 05 and Mar 11, 2018 Mar 19, 2018 Mar 23, 2018
Mar 12 and Mar 18, 2018 Mar 26, 2018 Mar 30, 2018
Mar 19 and Mar 25, 2018 Apr 2, 2018 Apr 6, 2018
Mar 26 and Apr 01, 2018 Apr 9, 20178 Apr 13, 2018
Apr 02 and Apr 08, 2018 Apr 16, 2018 Apr 20, 2018
Apr 09 and Apr 15, 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Apr 27, 2018
Apr 16 and Apr 22, 2018 Apr 30, 2018 May 4, 2018
Apr 23 and Apr 29, 2018 May 7, 2018 May 11, 2018
Apr 30 and May 06, 2018 May 14, 2018 May 18, 2018
May 07 and May 13, 2018 May 21, 201 May 25, 2018
May 14 and May 20, 2018 May 28, 2018 Jun 1, 2018
May 21 and May 27, 2018 Jun 4, 2018 Jun 8, 2018
May 28 and Jun 03, 2018 Jun 11, 2018 Jun 15, 2018
Jun 04 and Jun 10, 2018 Jun 18, 2018 Jun 22, 2018
Jun 11 and Jun 17, 2018 Jun 25, 2018 Jun 29, 2018
Jun 18 and Jun 24, 2018 Jul 2, 2018 Jul 6, 2018
Jun 25 and Jul 01, 2018 Jul 9, 2018 Jul 13, 2018
Jul 02 and Jul 08, 2018 Jul 16, 2018 Jul 20, 2018
Jul 09 and Jul 15, 2018 Jul 23, 2018 Jul 27, 2018
Jul 16 and Jul 22, 2018 Jul 30, 2018 Aug 3, 2018
Jul 23 and Jul 29, 2018 Aug 4, 2018 Aug 10, 2018
Jul 30 and Aug 05, 2018 Aug 13, 2018 Aug 17, 2018
Aug 06 and Aug 12, 2018 Aug 20, 2018 Aug 24, 2018
Aug 13 and Aug 19, 2018 Aug 27, 2018 Aug 31, 2018
Aug 20 and Aug 26, 2018 Sep 3, 2018 Sep 7, 2018
Aug 27 and Sep 02, 2018 Sep 10, 2018 Sep 14, 2018
Sep 03 and Sep 09, 2018 Sep 17, 2018 Sep 21, 2018
Sep 10 and Sep 16, 2018 Sep 24, 2018 Sep 28, 2018
Sep 17 and Sep 23, 2018 Oct 1, 2018 Oct 5, 2018
Sep 24 and Sep 30, 2018 Oct 8, 2018 Oct 12, 2018
Oct 01 and Oct 07, 2018 Oct 15, 2018 Oct 19, 2018
Oct 08 and Oct 14, 2018 Oct 22, 2018 Oct 26, 2018

*Note: Again, these are estimated dates based on previous tax refund schedules released by the IRS. The IRS no longer publishes these tax refund charts, due to their auditing process.

Keep in mind it may take a few days for your financial institution to make your deposit available to you, or it may take several days for the check to arrive in the mail. Keep this in mind when planning to use your tax refund. The IRS states to allow for 5 additional days for the funds to become available to you. In almost all cases a direct deposit will get you your tax refund more quickly than 5 days, and in some cases will be available immediately.

Important Tax Filing Dates & Refund Dates

When can I file my tax return? The first day to officially file your 2017 tax return is January 29, 2018. However, many tax software programs will allow you to complete your return and “file” it before that date. They will then hold the returns until the IRS begins accepting them. Some taxpayers who submit their electronic tax return early may be able to participate in the IRS HUB Testing program. This is a controlled testing of the federal tax return system. The IRS processes a small percentage of tax returns from major software providers to test the tax return submission process and allow for fixing bugs before opening the doors to all taxpayers.

When are taxes due? The last day to file taxes is April 17, 2018. (April 15 is the tax deadline for most years, unless it falls on a weekend or an observed holiday. April 16, 2018 is the observed holiday for Emancipation Day, for Washington DC). You can file a tax extension if you are not ready to file your taxes by the deadline.

How long does it take to receive my tax refund? Approximately 90% of tax payers will receive their refunds in less than 21 days from the day their tax return was accepted by the IRS. Most people receive their refund in an average of 10-14 days.

Are there any expected tax refund delays? Yes. The IRS is required by federal law to withhold tax refunds for taxpayers who claim Earned Income Tax Credits and Additional Child Tax Credit until at least Feb. 27, 2018. Keep in mind it can still take a week to receive the refund after the IRS releases it. So some people who file early may experience delays while awaiting their refund. Refunds should be processed normally after this date. Also note that new identity theft protections and anti-fraud measures may hold up some refunds, as some federal tax returns may be held for further review.

How Should You Request to Receive Your Refund?

The IRS gives you three options for receiving your refund. You can choose to receive your refund in a direct deposit (you can split your refund and have it sent to up to three banks), you can have a paper check sent to your home, or you can choose to buy US Savings Bonds with your tax refund. You can also apply a refund to any future taxes owed. This is a popular choice among some small business owners who are required to pay estimated taxes.

Of the three refund options available to you, the Direct Deposit option is the fastest and safest option. You can receive your refund via an ACH bank transaction in as little as a few days. While receiving a paper check can take over a week to process, several days to travel via the postal system, and several days to clear your bank.

*Note: Some tax software companies also offer the option of receiving a tax refund on a prepaid debit card. I’m not particularly fond of this option, but it is available to some tax filers. In this case, the refund is first sent to the tax preparation company, then they issue you the prepaid debit card.

Tax Refund Schedule for Extensions and Amended Tax Returns

The refund schedule should be the same if you filed for a tax extension, however, there is no official schedule for tax refunds for amended tax returns. The above list only includes dates for e-filing an original tax return. Amended tax returns are processed manually, and often take 8-12 weeks to process. If you do not receive an amended tax return refund within 8 weeks after you file it, then you should contact the IRS to check on the status.

How to Check the Status of Your Tax Return

You should be able to check IRS tax refund status roughly 24 hours after your receive confirmation form the IRS that they have received your tax refund via E-File. You will need to wait at least 4 weeks if you mailed in your tax return. The best way to check the status of your federal tax refund is to visit the Where’s My Refund page at the IRS website.

When you receive your refund depends on how and when you file.

You can also call the IRS at 1-800-829-1954, or 1-800-829-4477, or 1-800-829-1040 and inquire about your tax return status with an IRS a customer service representative. Note that the IRS only updates tax return statuses once a day during the week, usually between midnight and 6am. They do not update the status more than once a day, so checking throughout the day will not give you a different result.

Should I call the IRS to check my federal tax refund status? The IRS has stated you should only call them if it has been:

  • 21 days or more since you e-filed
  • 6 weeks or more since you mailed your return, or when
  • “Where’s My Refund” tells you to contact the IRS
Get a Larger Tax Refund Next Year

If you want a bigger tax refund next year, then there are a few ways you can increase the amount of money the government will give you as a tax refund. One of the easiest ways is by contributing to a tax-deferred retirement plan such as a 401k, the Thrift Savings Plan, or by opening a Traditional IRA, which allows you to deduct up to an additional $5,500 on your taxes each year (up to $6,500 if you are age 50 or older). You can open an IRA in a variety of locations, including banks, brokerage firms, independent advisors, and more.

Update: IRS Announces Some Tax Refunds Will Be Late

The IRS recently upgraded their computer systems to prevent tax refund fraud. This may affect people who filed early in the year. Find out if your tax refund will be late.

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The 2018 Cost of Living Adjustment for VA disability compensation of 2.0% was the largest COLA increase in six years. This rate increase followed rate increase of 0.3% in 2017, and no rate increase in 2016. The following article explains VA Service Connected Disability Ratings, how VA disability compensation works, and shows the 2018 VA Disability Pay Rates, based on the veterans disability rating and number of dependents.

About VA Disability Ratings and VA Disability Compensation:

If you were injured or became seriously ill while serving in the military, you may be eligible for certain veterans benefits, including VA disability compensation. This benefit is paid to certain military veterans based on illnesses or injuries received while serving on active duty. Certain veterans may also be eligible for VA health care benefits. To see current VA disability rates, scroll down to the bottom of the article. Keep reading to learn more about VA disability rates, applying for disability compensation, and other facts.

There are many factors which go into determining compensation eligibility and levels, most of which are outside the scope of this article. Treat this article as a primer for VA disability benefits as we show you the VA’s definition of a service-connected disability, where to apply for benefits, and the current VA disability compensation rate tables, as provided by the VA.

Find the updated VA Disability Compensation Benefits Pay Rates

What is a Service Connected Disability?

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, VA Disability Compensation is:

a benefit paid to a veteran because of injuries or diseases that happened while on active duty, or were made worse by active military service. It is also paid to certain veterans disabled from VA health care. The benefits are tax-free. Source.

If you are considered to have a service-connected disability, then you may be eligible to receive a monthly compensation payment, and under certain circumstances, you may be eligible to receive additional compensation, usually if you have a service-connected rating of 30% or higher and have dependents (spouse, children, and/or parents under your care), if you have missing limbs, or if you have a severely disabled spouse.

Applying for VA Compensation Benefits

Detailed instructions for applying for VA disability benefits are outside the scope of this article, but in general, it is best to supply as much supporting information as possible, including how the injury or illness occurred, any medical treatment you received, current health status, and how your life has been affected by the injury or illness. You will need to fill out VA Form 21-526, Veterans Application for Compensation and/or Pension or apply online using VONAPP. Also be sure to have a copy of your DD Form 214.

Disability Ratings are Made on a Case by Case Basis

The VA rates each disability claim on a case by case basis. The VA first determines whether or not the illness or injury was sustained while the servicemember was in the military, then they assign a rating for each illness or injury. If the VA determines the injury or illness isn’t related to your military service, or didn’t happen while you were in the military, they will deny your claim. If the VA approves your claim, they will assign it a rating between 0% – 100%.

A 0% rating shows there is an illness or injury that is connected to your military service, but it doesn’t warrant compensation at this time. It is still good to get a 0% rating compared to no service-connected link because if the condition worsens at a later date, you can apply to have your disability rating upgraded.

Multiple Disability Ratings:

Multiple disability ratings are a little tricky to calculate, and are beyond the scope of this article. But we’ll give a brief overview. In short, the VA uses a special method for calculating multiple disabilities. Here is a simplified example:

Example: If you have a 30% disability rating, the VA would multiply that against 100%, which is assumed to be good health. This gives you 30%. Subtract that from 100% which leaves you with 70% (consider this your new starting point for your health rating). Then subtract 70% from 100% and you are left with 30%. If that is your only disability, then your final VA Service-Connected Disability Rating is 30%.

If you have multiple ratings, you continue with the process, using your final number each time as your starting point. Continuing with our example, if your next rating is 10%, you would multiply 10% against 70%, which is 7%. You subtract that from 70%, which leaves you with 63%. Subtract 63% from 100% and you get 37%. Your disability rating is 37%, which rounds up to 40%.

It can get complicated quickly, so I have an in-depth article and podcast that explain how the VA calculates combined disability ratings. I highly recommend reading and/or listening to get a good idea how the process works!

VA Disability Ratings Are Not Always Permanent

Many disability ratings are temporary and the VA retains the right to reexamine the disability rating at any time. If they wish to reexamine you, you will receive a Notice of Reexamination letter in the mail which will include a scheduled appointment date. Make sure you attend this appointment or reschedule, as the VA can reduce or terminate your benefits rating if you fail to attend this scheduled appointment. After the VA reexamines your condition(s), they will make a recommendation to increase, decrease, or leave your benefit at its current rating. There are times when your ratings may be protected, based on the type of disability, how long you have held the rating, your age, or other factors. Here is more information about VA Disability Reexaminations and Benefits Reductions.

A Change in Your Family Status Can Change Your VA Disability Payment

Remember to contact the VA whenever you have a change in family status as your rates may change as well.  If you have a 30% disability rating or higher and you are also supporting qualified dependents such as a spouse, child, or parent, you may be eligible to receive a higher VA disability payment. If your disability rating is 20% or lower, changes in your family status should not affect your VA disability payment rates.

The VA will not know when there is a change in your family status, so you will need to inform them immediately when something changes – such as a birth, wedding, a parent moving in with you, divorce, child coming of age, or the death of a qualified dependent. It is always best to inform the VA of a change as soon as possible, however, in some cases you won’t be able to do so until you have more information (such as when a child is born, as you can’t do anything with the VA until your child has received his or her Social Security Number). Keep in mind that the VA will sometimes backdate payments to make up for any shortfalls, or in the case of the loss of an eligible dependent, your payment may decrease. Be sure to contact the VA disability center for more information.

Receive your disability check faster. When you file your disability claim, be sure to give the VA the routing number to your bank so you can enroll in direct deposits. This is faster and more secure – and a requirement as of March 1, 2013. I recommend using a high yield savings account so you can earn more money on any interest that your money earns.

Current VA Disability Compensation Pay Rates

Current VA Disability Compensation Rates for 2018 are effective as of Dec. 1, 2017.

Increases in VA Service-Connected Disability Rates are tied to the same Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) provided by the Social Security Administration. These are the same rates the government uses for determining cost of living increases for Social Security recipients, military retirees, and federal civilian retirees.

2018 VA Disability Compensation Rate Increase – 2.0%. The 2018 disability compensation rate increase was the largest COLA increase since 2012. There was a small increase for disability compensation rates for 2017, of 0.3%. This small rate increase followed 2016, a year in which there was no cost of living increase. The previous rate increase was in 2015, when VA Disability rates increased by 1.7%. 2014 was the first year the VA has included amounts above a flat dollar amount. In previous years, the amount was rounded down to the nearest dollar. This change won’t make a huge difference now, but if this policy remains in place, it will compound over time.

You can view the current VA Disability rates here, but for your convenience, we have included them in this article as well.

2018 VA Disability Rates

VA Disability Rating: 10% – 20% (No Dependents) 

PercentageRate
10%$136.24
20%$269.30

VA Disability Rating: 30% – 60% Without Children

Dependent Status30%40%50%60%
Veteran Alone$417.15$600.90$855.41$1,083.52
Veteran with Spouse Only$466.15$666.90$937.41$1,182.52
Veteran with Spouse & One Parent$505.15$719.90$1,003.41$1,261.52
Veteran with Spouse and Two Parents$544.15$772.90$1,069.41$1,340.52
Veteran with One Parent$456.15$653.90$921.41$1,162.52
Veteran with Two Parents$495.15$706.90$987.41$1,241.52
Additional for A/A spouse (see footnote b)$46.00$61.00*$76.00$91.00

VA Disability Rating: 70% – 100% Without Children

Dependent Status70% 80%90%100%
Veteran Alone$1,365.48$1,587.25$1,783.68$2,973.86
Veteran with Spouse Only$1,481.48$1,719.25$1,932.68$3,139.67
Veteran with Spouse & One Parent$1,574.48$1,825.25$2,051.68$3,272.73
Veteran with Spouse and Two Parents$1,667.48$1,931.25$2,170.68$3,405.79
Veteran with One Parent$1,458.48$1,693.25$1,902.68$3,106.92
Veteran with Two Parents$1,551.48$1,799.25$2,021.68$3,239.98
Additional for A/A spouse (see footnote b)$106.00$122.00$137.00$152.06

VA Disability Rating: 30% – 60% With Children

Dependent Status30%40%50%60%
Veteran with Spouse & Child$503.15$714.90$998.41$1,255.52
Veteran with Child Only$450.15$644.90$910.41$1,149.52
Veteran with Spouse, One Parent and Child$542.15$767.90$1,064.41$1,334.52
Veteran with Spouse, Two Parents and Child$581.15$820.90$1,130.41$1,413.52
Veteran with One Parent and Child$489.15$697.90$976.41$1,228.52
Veteran with Two Parents and Child$528.15$750.90$1,042.41$1,307.52
Add for Each Additional Child Under Age 18$24.00$32.00$41.00$49.00
Each Additional Schoolchild Over Age 18 (see footnote a)$79.00$106.00$133.00$159.00
Additional for A/A spouse (see footnote b)$46.00$61.00$76.00$91.00

VA Disability Rating: 70% – 100% With Children

Dependent Status70%80%90%100%
Veteran with Spouse & Child $1,566.48$1,816.25$2041.68$3,261.10
Veteran with Child Only$1,442.48$1,675.25$1,882.68$3,084.75
Veteran with Spouse, One Parent and Child$1,659.48$1,922.25$2,160.68$3,394.16
Veteran with Spouse, Two Parents and Child$1,752.48$2,028.25$2,279.68$3,527.22
Veteran with One Parent and Child$1,535.48$1,781.25$2,001.68$3,217.81
Veteran with Two Parents and Child$1,628.48$1,887.25$2,120.68$3,350.87
Add for Each Additional Child Under Age 18$57.00$65.00$74.00$82.38
Each Additional Schoolchild Over Age 18 (see footnote a)$186.00$212.00$239.00$266.13
Additional for A/A spouse (see footnote b)$106.00$122.00$137.00$152.06

If you have specific VA benefits related questions, it is always best to call or visit your regional VA medical center, as they will be able to access your file and answer your specific questions.

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Military members, veterans, and their family members face an assortment of financial challenges that are unique to our community. As military members and veterans, we may find ourselves frequently traveling, being exposed to deployments and special duty assignments, dealing with unique pay and benefits programs, and working through other financial challenges. We also have a unique retirement program, especially with the new Blended Retirement System, which combines the traditional pension with an defined benefit plan.

Military Retirees and Veterans also have a variety programs and benefits which can affect their financial well-being. This can include aspects of their financial lives, such as buying a home (VA Loan), completing their college education (GI Bill), earning additional retirement benefits if they transition into the federal Civil Service employment system (military service credits), and even providing for their loved ones in the event a retiree predeceases their spouse (Military Survivor Benefit Plan).

Thankfully, there are books to cover almost all of these situations. We try to do a good job covering these topics on our website. But there is something very satisfying about diving deeply into a topic. And books are able to do this much better than a single article on our site.

The following military money books are recommended resources to help you on your path to financial freedom. The best part is most of these books can be had for the price of one or two large coffees (or less).

Best Military Money Books:

The following military finance books are recommended resources to help you on your path to financial freedom:

  • Soldier of Finance: Take Charge of Your Money and Invest in Your Future – by Jeff Rose
  • The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement – by Doug Nordman.
  • Operation Money: A Financial Guide for Military Service Members and Families by Jean Chatzky
  • The Intelligent Military Investor: An Officer’s Guide to Personal Finance and Investing – by Spencer Reese.
  • Military In Transition’s Guide to the Survivor Benefit Plan – by Forrest Baumhover.
  • The GubMints Gouge for Maximizing your Service Computation Date – by Eddie Wills.
Soldier of Finance: Take Charge of Your Money and Invest in Your Future – by Jeff Rose

Jeff Rose is a Certified Financial Planner and Army combat veteran. He founded the website Good Financial Cents, and is the author of the best-selling book, Soldier of Finance. In his book, Jeff uses the concept of Basic Training to walk readers through understanding personal finance topics, big and small.

Following Jeff’s guide will help you understand your “why,” or the reason you need to have financial health, how to understand credit, savings, investing, and planning for the future. And like all good military programs, Jeff shows you how to enlist a Battle Buddy to help you through the process. If you need one book to get you started on your journey to financial freedom, this is a great place to start.

Recommended Resources:

Soldier of Finance Price: $8.06 Soldier of Finance, by Jeff Rose, Army Veteran. Use Basic Training as a framework to get out of debt, invest, and achieve financial freedom. Buy Now on Amazon Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement – by Doug Nordman

This book was written by Doug Nordman, a United States Naval Academy graduate and former nuclear engineer in the submarine force. Doug retired from the Navy after a 20 year career and never had to work again (his book explains how he has been able to accomplish this).

After several years of being active on various online forums, he realized he had a book in him that needed to get out. He founded the website, The Military Guide, and published his book, The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement. Through his book, as well as by living the example in real life, Doug shows that a career in the military can lead to financial independence and retirement. Moreover, 100% of the proceeds from the sale of this book go to veteran charities.

Recommended Resources:

The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement Price: Retired Navy officer Doug Nordman shares his personal journey to financial independence after 20 years of military service and shows you how to do it too. Buy Now on Amazon Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Operation Money: A Financial Guide for Military Service Members and Families by Jean Chatzky

Jean Chatzky is the best-selling author of 9 books on financial topics, and is the financial editor for NBC’s Today Show. She has appeared on numerous television and radio shows, is a syndicated columnist, and is a keynote speaker. She is also the host of the popular podcast, Her Money, with Jean Chatzky, a podcast to help empower women in their financial lives.

Though Jean is not a military veteran herself, she leveraged her extensive financial knowledge to work closely with several military money experts when writing Operation Money. The result is a book that can help any military member and their family achieve greater financial success. The best part? Jean offers a digital copy of her book for free on Amazon.

Recommended Resources:

Operation Money: A Financial Guide for Military Service Members and Families Price: Best selling author and financial editor for NBC's Today Show shows you how to get financially fit and navigate various military financial issues. Buy Now on Amazon Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

The Intelligent Military Investor – by Spencer Reese

Spencer is an active duty Air Force officer who has the goal of reaching complete financial independence by the time he retires after 20 years of service. And if you read his website, Military Money Manual, you will know he is well on his way to reaching his goal. On his site, Spencer shares his journey to reaching financial independence through savvy money management, paying off all debt, and aggressive saving and investing rates. He turned his experience into his book, The Intelligent Military Investor: An Officer’s Guide to Personal Finance and Investing.

Far from being a play by play on day trading or risky stock investments, Spencer recommends investing in the tried and true Thrift Savings Plan, avoiding debt, and keeping your living expenses low. He shows you how many military members can reach financial independence at an early age if they are willing to follow a few simple guidelines.

Recommended Resources:

The Intelligent Military Investor Price: An Active Duty Air Force officer shows you how to save & invest wisely to reach financial freedom. This approachable guide works for both officers and enlisted. Buy Now on Amazon Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Military In Transition’s Guide to the Survivor Benefit Plan – by Forrest Baumhover

Forrest is a Certified Financial Planner and is enrolled to practice in front of the Internal Revenue Service. Forrest graduated from the United States Naval Academy and served over 20 years in the US Navy. Forrest has written numerous articles on this website, along with other popular websites, including Nerd Wallet, Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, NASDAQ, & Business Insider.

Forrest wrote what we consider to be “the guide” to understanding the military Survivor Benefit Plan. For those looking for an overview of the Survivor Benefit Plan, you can read the article and podcast interview we did with Forrest in this article: Understanding the Military Survivor Benefit Plan.

Recommended Resources:

Military In Transition's Guide to the Survivor Benefit Plan Price: $6.99 Do you need the military Survivor Benefit Plan, or should you buy life insurance instead? This book explains your options. Buy Now on Amazon Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

The GubMints Gouge for Maximizing your Service Computation Date – by Eddie Wills

Military veterans who transition into the federal Civil Service are eligible to buy military service credits. These credits work to increase their federal civil service time, often allowing them to accrue leave (vacation days) more quickly, as well as potentially enhance their pension when they reach retirement. As you can imagine, there are all sorts of rules and exclusions with this program.

Like Doug and Forrest, Eddie is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy. Unlike Doug and Forrest, he decided to leave active duty before earning a full active duty retirement. Eddie later became a civil service employee and turned his experience into a website and a book, which you can find a link to below. Eddie was kind enough to come on our podcast and discuss this topic at great length. You can read more and listen to our podcast on the following article: Buy Back Military Service for Civil Service Retirement Credits with a Military Service Credit Deposit.

Recommended Resources:

The GubMints Gouge for Maximizing your Service Computation Date Price: Navy Veteran Eddie Wills shows you how to compute your military time to get federal civil service retirement credits, increasing your retirement pension! Buy Now on Amazon Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Just a quick note: The book links you find here will directly link you to the respective Amazon location.  Each of the recommended books you buy through one of these links (not just the book, but any other items you choose to buy), Amazon pays a small commission to this website, but your price stays the same. These commissions do help to defray the cost of maintaining this website.

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There are any number of online articles that discuss whether you should sell or take terminal leave.  Ryan Guina’s Cash Money Life article is a very good primer on why this should be considered on a case-by-case basis, and why each decision on whether to take terminal leave is a personal one. This article aims to put numbers on paper.  This should allow you to visualize the difference between taking and selling your terminal leave.

How Do I Decide Whether to Take or Sell Terminal Leave?

First of all, terminal leave is one small aspect of your entire financial situation.  To learn more about how it fits in the bigger picture, I encourage you to sign up for the 30 Day Financial Transition Challenge.

Part of the terminal leave decision is within your control. However, there may be circumstances that require you to stay until the last possible day.  If so, you may find yourself being forced to sell back leave, even if that’s not what you wanted to do. If this is the case, then deal with it, make your adjustments, and move on.

However, there are a lot of people wondering what they should do if given the choice. This goes back to your personal circumstances, opportunities, cash flow needs, and other considerations. Instead of a set of rules to go by, below are a set of questions you should ask yourself:

  1. How much money do I get if I sell my terminal leave? Run the numbers, just like above, based on the amount of leave you have accumulated (don’t forget the taxes). If it’s significant ($10,000 or more), you may also want to see if this puts you into a higher tax bracket (i.e. in example 1, Sgt X could easily break through the 15% tax bracket which tops out at $37,650 for single filers). If this seems difficult, you might want to talk with an accountant. Your goal here is to get a number. That’s it.
  2. What are my available options? You could be comparing your number to another job, school, or some other opportunity that may require you to start before you’re officially out. Or, perhaps you already have a job lined up, and would like the additional time to spend with friends and family before you start. Whatever it is, you should think about what option B (as well as options C or D) look like.
  3. When possible, compare apples to apples. However, you decide what really matters. Perhaps that job doesn’t pay as much as you would earn by selling your leave back. However, it might be worthwhile if you’re helping future company by filling a position that’s been vacant for months. You might get the clock running on something that matters to you, like automatic salary increases (think GS civilian salaries where your first step increase occurs at the end of year 1). You might just appreciate the peace of mind that happens because you’ve finally ‘cut the cord’ on your old career. Whatever it is, you pick what criteria it is that you’re going to decide against.
  4. Make your terminal leave decision, then move on. You’ve got so many things going on that you can’t afford to second-guess yourself.  Don’t worry about if you got the most money  from your accrued leave. Make your decision, schedule it, then move on to the next priority item that is on your to-do list.

Next, let’s take a look at two terminal leave case studies, where the decision is pretty clear in each situation.  Your particular situation might not be this straightforward, but looking at the numbers might help you put things into context.

THAT MOMENT WHEN YOUR TERMINAL LEAVE GETS APPROVED - YouTube

Case #1:  E-5’s End of Enlistment

Sgt X, an Army E-5, is separating after a little more than 4 years from Fort Hood, so he can go to college, using the post-9/11 GI Bill. He has 30 days of leave, and is trying to decide whether to sell it back or to use terminal leave. He has deployed to a combat zone, and ½ of his accrued leave is considered combat zone tax exclusion (CZTE) leave. His EAOS is 30 June, and his first class doesn’t start until September, so he’s got plenty of time. In this case, the primary concern is calculating how much Sgt X would receive in exchange for his 30 days of leave, and whether he feels that this money is worth it. Since his base pay is $2,614.20 (or a daily pay of $87.14), we should use that as the basis of calculation.

Normally, you pay taxes on leave that you sell back to the government. However, leave earned in a CZTE is not taxable when sold back, so Sgt X would only be taxed on ½ of his sold back leave. Let’s assume that Sgt X is in the 15% tax bracket, which is fairly reasonable for his paygrade, and that he pays no state income tax. In this case, he is entitled to $2,418.14:

CZTE:     $87.14 X 15 days = $1,307.10

Taxable:  $87.14 X 15 days = $1,307.10 – 15% ($196.06) = $1,111.04

Total:   $1,307.10 + $1,111.04 = $2,418.14

Now, Sgt X has to decide whether his time is worth $2,418.14. First of all, he might not receive this amount.  He would have to check with his pay office to see what his tax withholding rate is. If taxes are withheld at a higher rate, he might receive less than his entitlement.  Then he’d have to wait until the next year to file his tax return and apply for a refund. This might not meet his cash flow needs, but in his case, he might not have a whole lot of other priorities besides getting as much money as he needs before he starts college.

Case #2:  O-5’s Retirement

Commander Y, a Navy O-5, is retiring after 20 years in Washington, D.C. He has a job lined up at $105,000 per year and his employer wants him onboard as soon as possible. Commander X hasn’t deployed recently, so he doesn’t have any CTZE leave, but he does have 60 days accrued leave (includes leave he will have earned at his date of retirement). He also has a family.

In this case, we need to calculate what his entitlement would look like if he sold his leave back, then compare that to how much he would have earned at $105,000 per year. Let’s assume that as a family man, Commander X is in the 25% tax bracket. He has a decent job lined up, so he’s leaning towards taking terminal leave, but wants to know if he’d be better off staying in and selling it back. His base pay is calculated at O5 > 18 years ($8,388.90).

  • If he sells his leave: Calculate 2 months’ pay (16,777.80), and subtract 25%. This gives you a total of $12,583.35
  • If he takes his terminal leave to start work early: Calculate 2 months’ pay at $105,000 ($17,500), and subtract 25%. This gives you a total of $13,125 in civilian pay.  This is more than what he would have earned by selling his terminal leave back. Additionally, he has two extra months to accrue employer benefits (401(k), health savings plan, etc.).

In Commander X’s case, there is a monetary & non-monetary incentive for him to take terminal leave instead of selling it back.

Conclusion

Terminal leave is just one of many financial issues you need to address as you transition from active duty.  If you’re looking for a systematic approach to take control of your entire financial situation, take the 30 Day Financial Transition Challenge.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by everything, you should talk to your command’s financial counselor, or find a fee-only financial planner.  Working with a professional should help you achieve the peace of mind you deserve as you transition.

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Getting a new military ID card can be a simple process if you’re on active duty. You can usually just go to your base personnel office or Pass & ID center during office hours, sign up on the waiting list, and get a new card issued within the hour. But you may need to schedule an appointment with the local military ID card issuing office if you aren’t at your base, or if you are no longer serving on active duty. In that case, it’s best to use the RAPIDS Appointment Scheduler to find the closest ID card office and to schedule an appointment.

Unfortunately, the RAPIDS website and RAPIDS Appointment Scheduler aren’t the most user-friendly websites for first time visitors to navigate. That’s why we created this guide, complete with instructions and screenshots.

Use the RAPIDS Website to Schedule an Appointment for a New Military ID Card

Military members, retirees, and their dependents can use the RAPIDS website to schedule, confirm, cancel, or change an appointment to get a new military ID card. The RAPIDS site is helpful for locating a military ID card issuing office, verifying the office hours and local procedures, and scheduling an appointment to get a new ID card. It’s important to note that local procedures may vary, so pay close attention to the details so you don’t have to come back.

The RAPIDS website features has a search function that makes it easy to find a location based on your state, zip code, Building or Site Name, or country (there are RAPIDS locations in about two dozen overseas locations).

The search results provide the closest location to you, and provides the address, contact information, office hours, and which documents you will need to obtain your new military ID Card. You may also need to obtain a visitor’s pass to get on base if you don’t currently have a military ID. Be sure to get that information ironed out prior to arriving to the base. You don’t want to miss your appointment because you were trying to get on base!

How To Use The RAPIDS Appointment Scheduler

The biggest issue most first-time visitors have is getting to the website (click to visit). Many government websites have issues with their security certificates that cause many browsers to give an error informing the visitor the site is not secure. Here is an example:

Click “Advanced” to proceed o the RAPIDS website.

As you can see from the above image, the browser sends a message to the user that the site is insecure. You will need to click the “Advanced” link to see an additional message:

Click this link to proceed.

I’m not sure why many military websites have these errors, but they can be common. Clicking the link should take you to the RAPIDS website, and the RAPIDS Appointment Scheduler. The message states that clicking the link is unsafe, but I haven’t experienced that to be the case. Of course, make sure you are using safe computing practices.

Further troubleshooting tips: You may find it easier to access the site by using a different browser, such as FireFox, Chrome or Internet Explorer. You may also need to make adjustments to your software. Some anti-virus, firewall programs, or other software programs may prevent you from visiting this site. Use your own judgment regarding whether or not you wish to temporarily disable the software.

Once you click the link to proceed, you should be able to find information for the military ID Card issuing office closest to you. The image should look similar to the following:

From here, you simply need to choose your location and click “Go.”

I tried choosing my location based on the Zip Code, but I received a message stating there was no Military Identification Card Issuance Office within 30 miles of my zip code. So I had to try again by choosing my state and clicking the Go button. This returned multiple ID Card Issuance Offices. Choose the location that best meets your needs.

Schedule Your Appointment

Once you click on a location, you will be taken to the RAPIDS Site ID page, which has information for that ID Card Issuance Office (see next section for more info on this topic), and a calendar you can use to select the date for your appointment. Choose your appointment date, then you will be taken to a page where you can choose an available time. Select your time, then enter your name, phone number, email, and military status, and click submit. You should receive a confirmation email. You can later use the website to confirm, cancel, or change your appointment.

Each ID Card Issuing Office Has Different Procedures

Pay attention to the procedures listed on the appointment scheduling page. Each office may have different procedures. For example, most offices only process military ID cards on certain days, or during certain hours. Many offices do not accept walk-in appointments. If they do accept walk-ins, be prepared to wait up to several hours, depending on availability.

It’s usually required to schedule multiple appointments if you are obtaining multiple ID cards, since it takes time to process each card. This is common if you have dependents who all need to renew their ID cards.

Here is an example notice from a Military Identification Card Issuance Office near me (notice the limited days/hours and no walk-in availability):

  • Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday 0900-1130, 1230-1445 Please note 15 Minutes per ID card/transaction, please make additional appointments for additional ID cards. We DO NOT accept walk-in appointments.

Additional instructions often include building location, how to access the building, whether or not you need a visitor’s pass, which documents to bring, and related information. I took the time to compare the information from multiple offices, and some offer much more information than others, especially when it comes to required documents to get a new military ID card, as well as local procedures.

When in doubt, call and ask! The last thing you want to do is schedule an appointment, then find out you don’t have all the required documents on hand when you arrive.

Required Documents for a New Military ID Card

You will be required to bring 2 current forms of identification that have been issued by your local, state, or federal government. These can include your Driver’s License, Social Security Card, Passport, certified copy of your birth certificate, or a similar form of ID. Call to verify if you have any doubts regarding the form of ID you have.

If you have a spouse that needs to obtain a military ID Card, then you will either need to be in attendance with him/her, or your spouse will need a Special Power of Attorney to allow them to conduct business on their sponsor’s behalf. You may also provide a signed & verified DD Form 1172, Application for Uniformed Services Identification Card DEERS Enrollment, which should allow them to obtain a military dependent ID card.

Your dependents will need to be enrolled in DEERS before they can be issued an Military Dependent ID Card.

Who Can Use the RAPIDS Appointment Scheduler?

You can use the RAPIDS website to schedule an appointment for a new military ID services if you are in any of the following branches of theUniformed Services (this includes active duty, retirees, and dependents):

  • Air Force (including Guard and Reserves)
  • Army (including Guard and Reserves)
  • Marine Corps & Marine Corps Reserves
  • Navy & Navy Reserves
  • Coast Guard (andReserves)
  • US Public Health Service
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Department of State members
  • Certain Contractors

Note about Military ID Card Eligibility: Military ID Cards are only for current military members, retirees, and their qualified dependents. These cards are not issued to veterans who served, but did not retire. You will want to read more about the new Veterans ID Card issued by the VA, or the VA Health Care Identification ID Card.

Questions about qualifications or required documents? Unfortunately, we aren’t able to answer specific questions regarding military ID card or dependent qualifications, which documents are required (beyond those listed above), or questions about specific locations or procedures. Contact your local Military ID Card Issuance Office through the contact information on the RAPIDS Appointment Scheduler with specific questions or comments.

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When my husband was deployed to Afghanistan, he often mentioned how depressingly sandy and brown it was there. He dreamed of seeing anything green and alive that would remind him of home. Imagine the impact on his unit when they received a live Christmas tree from America at their forward operating base. With a live tree, they could touch and see and smell a piece of home. Those Marines decorated their tree and smiled whenever they saw it. It lifted their spirits in a way that very few things can when you are deployed at Christmastime.

Trees for Troops – Bringing Christmas Cheer to Military Members & Families

How do you get a living Christmas tree from America to our troops overseas? It’s not Christmas magic. It’s a program called Trees for Troops. This non-profit organization works with local farmers and numerous donations to bring the Christmas spirit to military families. Since 2005, FedEx has partnered with the Christmas Spirit Foundation to ship the trees to service members deployed overseas, or to their families living at military bases around the country.

Yes, military families can benefit too! In fact, my family has enjoyed the benefits of this wonderful program. When my husband was deployed over Christmastime, we weren’t able to go to a tree farm together and pick out a tree – one of our holiday traditions. If I went alone, I wasn’t sure I would be able to load a tree onto our van by myself. In addition, I was disappointed to learn that trees are close to $100 in the expensive area where we are stationed. We couldn’t afford a fake tree, and I wasn’t even sure we could buy a real one.

Thankfully, Trees for Troops came to the rescue and saved our deployment Christmas. They delivered an enormous quantity of free trees to our military base. All we had to do was drive to the delivery spot and claim one! A team of volunteers was there, ready to help each family load their tree and secure it to their car. It was amazing to think about how many people had donated time or money to bring us our tree: from the farmers, to the volunteers, FedEx, and anyone who made a donation to the organization. As a result of their efforts, my kids had a real Christmas tree, and our house was filled with Christmas spirit.

Trees for Troops Weekend – First Weekend in Dec.

Trees for Troops has impacted many families and individuals. Since 2005, the organization has collected and donated over 176,000 trees for military families. FedEx has logged over 653,400 miles for this charity in the United States alone. They deliver the Christmas trees to 65 military bases, either in the U.S. or overseas.

Every year, “Trees for Troops Weekend” is the first weekend of December. On these dates, collection sites around the country use a trailer provided by FedEx to gather trees and donations. Last year, 25 sites participated, and they collected over 5,000 trees. Thousands of volunteers and many generous donations make this effort possible. Trees are then donated to military troops and their families at military installations on the first and second weekends of December.

Trees for Troops Eligibility

If you are a military family or service member who wants to receive a free Christmas tree, you can learn more from your base Family Readiness Program, or from the Christmas Spirit Foundation website. The Christmas Spirit Foundation publishes a list of bases they work with, but they don’t set the eligibility requirements. They work with each base to deliver the trees, but leave it up to the bases to determine how they will distribute them.

The main point of contact should be your Family Readiness Program – Airman and Family Readiness Center, Army Community Services, Marine Corps Community Services, Fleet and Family Readiness Center, Coast Guard Work-Life Office or Military Service Family Center, or similar program for military members.

Each base can create their own distribution criteria, which is often based on need, rank, family members of deployed servicemembers, or even a first-come-first-served basis. It’s important to contact your base POC for specific details for your location.

2017 Participating Trees for Troops Locations:

Here are the participating locations and dates for 2017 (note, some of these dates are on the first and second weekends of December):

BaseDelivery DateState
Fort McCoy1-DecWisconsin
Rock Island Arsenal30-NovIllinois
Naval Station Great Lakes1-Dec PMIllinois
Scott AFB6-DecIllinois
Fort Leonard Wood1-DecMissouri
Kirtland AFB8-DecNew Mexico
USAG West Point5-DecNew York
Altus AFB30-NovOklahoma
National Guard - NY Rochester30-NovNew York
NYS Armory - Syracuse1-DecNew York
Fort Drum4-DecNew York
Davis-Monthan AFB30-NovArizona
Hulbert Field1-DecFlorida
Langley AFB30-NovVirginia
Base Elizabeth City7-DecNorth Carolina
USCG Sector Buffalo5-DecNew York
JEB Fort Story1-DecVirginia
Fort Meade1-Dec PMMaryland
TRACEN Petaluma Coast Guard Base8-DecCalifornia
Training Center Cape MaytbdNew Jersey
Base Cape Cod29-NovMassachusetts
Fort Gordon30-NovGeorgia
Fort Rucker1-DecAlabama
NSA Panama City1-DecFlorida
Fort Benning5-DecGeorgia
Fort Stewart1-DecGeorgia
Hunter Army Airfield1-DecGeorgia
Base Charleston1-DecSouth Carolina
Fort Bragg1-DecNorth Carolina
Sector Field Office Fort Macon1-DecNorth Carolina
USCG Base New Orleans5-DecLouisiana
Naval Station Everett/Naval Radio Station Jim Creek1-DecWashington
Fort Campbell1-DecKentucky
Fort Knox7-DecKentucky
NASJRB Fort Worth1-DecTexas
MacDill AFB8-DecFlorida
JRTC & Fort Polk1-DecLouisiana
NCBC Gulfport1-DecMississippi
NAS Pensacola1-DecFlorida
NASJRB New Orleans8-DecLouisiana
Ellsworth AFB1-DecSouth Dakota
Fort Riley1-DecKansas
Fort Sill8-DecOklahoma
Fort Bliss8-DecTexas
Cannon AFB8-DecNew Mexico
JBSA-Lackland AFB7-DecTexas
Fort Hood7-DecTexas
Fort Carson6-DecColorado
NAS Kingsville1-DecTexas
Nellis AFB8-DecNevada
Camp Pendleton2-DecCalifornia
NAS Corpus Christi1-DecTexas
NOTU Cape Canaveral8-DecFlorida
NAS Jacksonville1-DecFlorida
Lincoln Military Housing7-DecCalifornia
Base Seattle8-DecWashington
JB Lewis-McChord5-DecWashington
Luke AFB30-NovArizona
NAS Mayport7-DecFlorida
Base Alameda1-DecCalifornia
Fort Huachuca30-NovArizona
NSB Kings Bay8-DecGeorgia
MCLB - Barstow7-DecCalifornia
NAS Key West7-DecFlorida
NAS Meridian8-DecMississippi
NAS Whiting Field1-DecFlorida
Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station29-NovNew York
JB Fort Eustis30-NovVirginia
How You Can Help the Trees for Troops Program

If you want to make a donation or get involved, here are some ways you can help out:

  • From the Trees for Troops website, buy a tree or make a tax-deductible donation towards the One Thousand Trees Campaign. $40 will send a tree to a deployed unit or a military family.
  • If you are a federal employee, select #12283 in the Combined Federal Campaign.
  • Visit a participating farm during Trees for Troops weekend to volunteer or donate. There is a list of participating locations on the Trees for Troops website.
  • When you buy your own family’s tree, ask if your vendor is involved in the Trees for Troops program. They may accept donations on the spot.
  • If you are employed, ask if your company will match your contribution, since it is to a 501c3 nonprofit organization.
  • Finally, follow Trees for Troops on social media, and share their posts so more people can learn about this program!

Since Trees for Troops is a program that can benefit both service members deployed overseas and military families stationed stateside, it is important to spread the word and let others know about this resource.

Are you able to get free Christmas trees on your military base?

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Denise M. Jenson)

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Veterans Day is a time to celebrate the service of those who have sacrificed so much to keep us safe. While military members don’t serve for recognition, it’s nice to know that many companies and organizations set aside a day to honor their service.

This page lists a variety of Veterans Day offers for our nation’s servicemembers – past and present. These offers include free haircuts, free oil changes, free car washes, retail discounts, and much more. Please see the following resources for more Veterans Day offers:

You can also download a printable pdf that lists many of these offers and additional information.

About these offers: We have done our best to verify each offer and we have provided a link to the company website when possible. Please note that some locations may have restrictions on offers. It is always recommended to call ahead to verify participation and to verify details.

Proof of service is recommended! This may include a current military or retired military ID card, a Veterans ID card (new national veterans ID card coming soon!), a DD Form 214, a Drivers License with a veterans designation, or other proof of service. Some locations may also accept a membership card for a Veterans Service Organization (e.g. DAV, VFW, AMVETS, American Legion, etc.), a picture of you in uniform, or some other proof of service.

Have an offer to add? Please use our Contact Page. We will do our best to add offers when possible. But please note we cannot list every offer.

2017 Veterans Day Retail Store Discounts, Freebies, & Specials

Here are some Veterans Day Discounts. In all cases, be sure to provide proper ID or proof of service. In addition, some of these stores are franchises, so verify participation before assuming the discount is in place at all locations.

Westgate Resorts – 1,500 Free Vacations

Westgate Resorts is giving away 1,500 free vacations on Veteran’s Day. Beginning November 11 at 9 a.m. EST, the first 1,500 eligible service members who complete the online military appreciation form at www.WestgateSalutes.com and place a fully refundable $100 deposit will receive a complimentary vacation package:

  • three (3) night stay May 3 – 6, 2018 for up to four (4) persons at the Westgate Vacation Villas Resort & Spa or the Westgate Town Center Resort & Spa in Kissimmee, FL May 3-6, 2018, or
  • two (2) night stay December 8 – 10, 2017 for up to two (2) persons at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, NV.
  • (full terms and conditions, eligibility, and other important info).

The free vacations are specifically for current active duty military personnel, retirees, veterans with an Honorable Discharge that served in any United States government military operations on or after August 6th, 1990, and Gold Star families. In addition to the 1,500 complimentary vacations, Westgate Resorts will offer a special 25 percent savings on Nov 10, 2017 for all U.S. military veterans. For more information, visit www.WestgateSalutes.com.

Veterans Day Deals from Amazon

Free Book: Operation Money: A Financial Guide for Military Service Members and Families. Written by Jean Chatzky, best-selling author and financial editor at NBC Today. Download Kindle version.

Amazon – More Veterans Day Offers on Amazon.

Free Haircuts for Military & Veterans:
  • Great Clips, Free Haircut, Nov. 11, 2017. Free Hair Cut to Veterans on Veterans Day and a coupon to anyone who is not a veteran to give to a veteran. More info.
  • Sport Clips – Veterans Day. Free haircut on Veterans Day. Participating Sport Clips locations will offer free haircuts to all active duty military and veterans (with valid ID.) For a list of stores offering free haircuts on Veterans Day, please click here.
Free Oil Change & Car Washes
  • Free Car Wash, Nov. 11, 2016. Thousands of car washes around the country are offering vets a free car wash on Veterans Day. Find a list at Grace for Veterans.
  • Meineke – Military Discounts: Meineke is offering up to 45% off Total Car Car Services from October 14 – November 24, 2017. Please call ahead for detials! (more info).
Veterans Day Retail Offers & Discounts

Bed Bath and Beyond, Nov 11. Active Duty, DoD, Reserves, Guard, Retirees, Veterans and Military Spouses get 20% off their entire purchase (in-store only; ID or proof of service required). More info.

Buckle: Military receive 10% off online purchases every day at Buckle.com. From November 6th-21st, 2017, Buckle is thanking veterans and other military personnel for their service with free standard shipping on all orders. Buckle Military Discount.

DC Shoes: 15% hero discount to servicemembers and first responders. To redeem the discount, visit dcshoes.sheerid.com/ and verify your military status to receive your one-time use coupon code.

Eastbay. 20% military discount is now available to veterans, reservists and the National Guard, in addition to active service members and their dependents. The online discount is applied at checkout when military shoppers click “military discounts” under promo codes on http://www.eastbay.com/. After a successful verification, the discount is automatically applied to the entire order.

Gerber Gear: Military personnel receive exclusive access to discounts on American made knives, multi-tools, and life-saving, problem-solving gear. To get these great deals, US military personnel, first responders, and Veterans can register for Gerber Gear’s Pro Program at www.gerbergear.com/ProProgram

Home Depot Military Discount: The Home Depot(R) is offering all active duty personnel, reservists, retired military, veterans and their families (with ID card) a 10 percent discount off their purchases in honor of Veteran’s Day. Some limitations may apply. You can also find Home Depot discounts online.

Update: Home Depot and Lowes 10% Military Discount Available Everyday. The 10% military discount is available every day for active duty and retirees, but not all veterans. Home Depot makes this offer available to all veterans on major military holidays, including Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and 4th of July.

Lowe’s Military Discount: Lowe’s Companies, Inc. will offer all active, reserve, honorably discharged, retired military personnel and their immediate family members a 10 percent discount on in-store U.S. purchases made during the Veterans Day holiday. The discount is available on in-stock and special order purchases up to $5,000. To qualify, individuals must present a valid military ID or other proof of service. Excluded from the discount are sales via Lowes.com, previous sales, and purchases of services or gift cards. Like Home Depot, Lowe’s offers this discount daily to active duty military members, but not to veterans. However, they extend the offer to military veterans on military holidays. You can also find exclusive discounts at Lowe’s.com.

Mens Wearhouse: Men’s Wearhouse is offering veterans and service members $25 off any purchase of $100 or more. More details.

Microsoft Office Products: The Microsoft Home Use program allows current military members and DoD workers to purchase Microsoft Office for the low price of $9.99. There is also an option to purchase additional products at substantially reduced prices. Please note this offer is only available to current military members, and those who work for select companies and organizations. Learn more about the Microsoft Office military discount.

Musicians Friend: 10% off one item of $199 value or more for veterans, reservists, National Guard, active duty and their immediate family members. Discount page.

Publix, 10% off. Military members, veterans, and their families save 10% on groceries on November 11 (proof of service required). This offer excludes prescriptions, alcohol, tobacco, gift cards, lottery tickets, postage stamps, and money services. More info.

Quiksilver. All active duty, reservists, National Guard, veterans, retirees, dependents, and spouses are eligible to receive 15% off their purchase online with Quicksilver. Visit quiksilver.sheerid.com to receive a unique coupon code.

Tractor Supply Co. This Veterans Day, customers with a valid military ID or proof of service will receive 15 percent off their entire purchase at Tractor Supply. Locations.

Under Armor – 15% Discount. 15% Off for Veterans, Service Members, and First Responders during VeteransDay week. Click here to learn more about the Under Armour Military Discount.

Bed and Breakfast for Vets

B&Bs for Vets has organized dozens of participating Bed and Breakfasts and Inns across the US and Canada which will be offering veterans a free night’s stay on November 10th and Nov. 11th. This offer is available to both active duty military members and veterans with ID, but space is limited. Each Inn and B&B has at least one room available for this promotion and reservations must be made directly through the participating Inns and B&Bs. For more information visit BandBsforVets.org.

Check out more military discounts on this site.

Are you Looking for a VA Loan? VA Loans and mortgage rates are currently the among lowest they have been in over 50 years.

Want to add a discount or offer to our site? We continually update this article each year and republish it with current information. Please contact us if you have any additions or corrections. Please be sure to include a link to the website so we can verify it and share it with our readers.

More Veterans Day Discounts! Please click through to 2017 Veterans Day Free Meals & Restaurant Discounts, and 2017 Veterans Day Free Activities, Events, & Recreation.

To all who served – a simple thank you is never enough. But I’ll say it anyway. Thank you for your service.

Veterans Day Meals and Deals image and all written content copyright this site. All other images copyright their respective restaurant or brand.

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Veterans Day is a great day to remember and celebrate those who have served our nation in our armed forces. There are many ways to show our appreciation to those who have served. Many cities, towns, and municipalities have a Veterans Day ceremony or parade to honor those who have served. I highly recommend attending one of these events if you have the opportunity. They can be a fun way to meet other veterans, and the experience of being thanked by people you have never met can be humbling.

Other organizations and companies may honor veterans by offering free meals, Veterans Day discounts, or free or discounted admission to parks, museums, and other events.

This page lists a variety of Veterans Day events and attractions for our nation’s servicemembers – past and present. We can’t list every local event. The best place for that information is your local city website or your local newspaper or their website. Instead, we have focused on those locations that offer free admission to a larger population.

Looking for other Veterans Day Offers? The following pages list free meals, and retail offers, including free haircuts, oil changes, car washes, retail discounts, and much more:

About these offers: We have done our best to verify each offer and we have provided a link to the company website when possible. Please note that some locations may have restrictions on offers. It is always recommended to call ahead to verify participation and to verify details.

Proof of service is recommended! This may include one of the follow forms of ID or proof of service:

Some locations may also accept a membership card for a Veterans Service Organization (e.g. DAV, VFW, AMVETS, American Legion, etc.), a picture of you in uniform, or some other proof of military service.

Want to add an event? Please use our Contact Page. We will do our best to add events when possible. But please note we cannot list every event. Priority will be given to those events that have the largest reach.

2017 Veterans Day Free Activities & Events

National Veterans Day Ceremony. The Veterans Day National Ceremony is held each year on November 11th at Arlington National Cemetery . The ceremony commences precisely at 11:00 a.m. with a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns and continues inside the Memorial Amphitheater with a parade of colors by veterans’ organizations and remarks from dignitaries. The ceremony is intended to honor and thank all who served in the United States Armed Forces. More info.

America’s Parade. Veterans Day parade in in New York City, NY. See website for more info.

Army Corp of Engineers Recreation Areas. will waive day use fees for veterans, active and reserve component service members, and their families at the more than 2,800 USACE-operated recreation areas nationwide on Veterans Day, November 11, 2017. The waiver covers fees for boat launch ramps and swimming beaches. The waiver does not apply to camping and camping-related services, or fees for specialized facilities such as group picnic shelters. More info.

Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Day Celebrations. Many local VA centers, hospitals, and cemeteries feature a Veterans Day ceremony. Contact your local VA center for more information.

Iraq And Afghanistan Veterans Of America (IAVA). IAVA has two pages that help veterans connet. Visit their VetTogether Page, and their Veterans Day Page. Both pages list meetups at various places throughout the US.

Veterans Day Parades. VetFriends has a national list of Veterans Day parades.

VetTix – Free Event Tickets for Military and Veterans. VetTix is an excellent organization that offers free tickets to current and former military members to concerts, shows, sporting events and more. You can learn more here.

National Parks, Museums, Zoos, and Similar Attractions

Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, CA. Military and veterans receive free admission on November 11. Friends and family will need to buy tickets at your local MWR/ITT office or receive $3 off adult and $1.50 off child admissions by showing a Military ID card at our ticket window. More info.

Birmingham Zoo, Birmingham, AL. All veterans, active and retired military and their dependents will receive FREE admission on November 11 – 12, 2017. More info.

Cincinnati Zoo. Free admission to the Zoo on Memorial Day, July 4 and Veteran’s Day. The offer also allows current and former military personnel to purchase up to six (6) half-price admission tickets for members of their immediate family. Military & First Responders – $3 off adults / $2 off child admission. Valid military, fire or police ID is required to obtain discount. Tickets must be purchased in person. More info.

Colonial Williamsburg Free Admission. Active duty receive one complimentary admission ticket per year (and as many as three direct dependents). Retired military and Veterans qualify for 50% discount on Single-day tickets or on Annual Passes for up to five direct dependents. Special Veterans Day ceremony. November 11, 2017.

Fee Free Day at National Parks. To honor America’s service men and women, the Secretary of the Interior has announced that areas managed by the National Park Service would not charge entrance fees for Veterans Day, November 11 and 12, 2017. Everyone is eligible, not just veterans. Over 100 national Parks will be participating in this event.

Harley-Davidson Museum® (November 10-12, 2017). The Harley-Davidson Museum® is offering free Museum entry for all active Military, Veterans and their families*. *Free entry with valid Military or Veterans ID for 1 additional adult and up to 4 children 18 years old or younger. Visit the Harley-Davidson Museum® website for more information.

Historic Jamestowne – Free Admission. The National Park Service commemorates Veterans Day with Fee Free days at Historic Jamestowne November 11, 2017. Free admission for everyone. See events calendar.

Newport Aquarium. Free admission from November 4th to 12th, with ID or proof of service. Family members can receive their military discount of $3 off adult tickets and $2 off child tickets. More info.

National September 11 Memorial & Museum. The National September 11 Memorial & Museum will pay tribute to our country’s veterans during a special five-day Salute to Service from November 8 through November 12. A series of events and special programs will be available on the memorial for veterans and their families, as well as the visiting public. Throughout our tribute, veterans will receive free museum admission. Veterans will also receive half price museum tickets for up to two family members during the tribute. Ticketing for Salute to Service will be available at a dedicated ticket window at the museum entrance. More information can be found on the National September 11, Memorial & Museum website.

Pro Football Hall of Fame – Free Admission, throughout Nov. 2017. Free Admission to the Pro Football Hall of Fame for all veterans and active military plus one guest, during the entire month of November. More information.

Orlando Science Center, Orlando, FL. Nov 6 – 19. Free admission for military members and veterans with a valid military ID. 50% off admission for their families. Please visit their site for additional information.

Patriots Point Museum, Nov. 11, 2017. Free admission to all veterans on November 11th & 12th, 2017. More Information.

University of Utah – Natural History Museum of Utah, Nov. 10-12, 2017. Free Museum Admission for Veterans and one additional guest. See website for more information.

Veterans Day – Free Admission to Amusement Parks

Anheuser-Busch Parks. Anheuser-Busch Parks offers Active Duty Service Members free admission for them and up to 3 dependents to any of their parks once a year. Throughout 2016, members of the military and as many as three direct dependents may enter SeaWorld, Busch Gardens or Sesame Place parks with a single-day complimentary admission. The Waves of Honor program is only available to Any active duty, activated or drilling reservist, or National Guardsman. Eligible parks include: Adventure Island, Busch Gardens (Tampa Bay or Williamsburg), SeaWorld (Orlando, San Diego, or San Antonio), Sesame Place, Water Country USA, or Aquatica SeaWorld’s Waterpark™ in San Diego. Not valid at Discovery Cove. Christmas Town at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va. is not included as part of this program. There are additional discounts for veterans. Must register in advance. You can obtain your ticket voucher online at the Waves of Honor website.

Knotts Berry Farm Military Tribute Days – Free Admission – 2017. Knott’s Berry Farm has an annual Military Tribute event in which they offer military members past and present by offering free park admission. This year the Military Tribute Days runs from November 1 – 16 and November 27 – December 15, 2017. Active, Retired or Veteran U.S. Military Personnel may receive free admission for themselves and 1 guest (maximum of 2 complimentary admissions will be issued). Up to 6 discounted admission tickets may be purchased for $35 each, when visiting from November 1 – 16, or for $40 each when visiting from November 27 – December 15. Discounted admission tickets are also available for purchase at local military bases. Must present proper ID at Knott’s turnstile (DD214, Veterans Administration Hospital ID or Active Military Service ID). More info.

LEGOLAND Florida, Winterhaven, FL. Active duty members receive free admission year round. NON-ACTIVE DUTY/FAMILY MEMBERS AND VETERANS: Deeply discounted tickets are available at each military base’s Information, Tickets and Travel (ITT) office that include a 2nd day FREE! Check with your local office on base for pricing. To receive free admission, U.S. veterans must present valid military ID or proof of veteran status at the theme park ticket windows on the day of their visit. This offer is not available online or by phone. More info.

World of Coca-Cola, Nov. 3 – 13. Active duty, reserves, and retirees are eligible for free admission year-round. From Nov. 3 – 13, they may also purchase up to four half-price general admission tickets for their guests. More info.

More Veterans Day Discounts! Please click through to 2017 Veterans Day Free Meals & Restaurant Discounts, and 2017 Veterans Day Freebies, Retail Discounts, and Special Offers, or download a list by clicking the box below.

To all who served – a simple thank you is never enough. But I’ll say it anyway. Thank you for your service.

Note: We continually update this article each year and republish it with current information. Please contact us if you have any additions or corrections.

Veterans Day Meals and Deals image and all written content copyright this site. All other images copyright their respective company, organization, or brand.

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