The VALOR Guide was conceived as a means to develop a comprehensive database of legal service providers, improve access by Veterans, coordination among providers, and systematize the delivery of legal services to all Veterans.
The name VALOR Guide was developed into a series of six volumes, to include all of California.
The Guide reflects the joint efforts of the law firm of Greenberg Traurig and Loyola Law School, along with the generous support and effort of many other firms, agencies and individuals.
Some VA facilities host non-VA legal service providers that can assist Veterans free of charge.
If a Veteran needs legal assistance, you may contact one of the listed legal service clinics.
Join-Up International, is a California non-profit organization founded by world-renowned horse trainer Monty Roberts.
Join-Up is dedicated to promoting gentle, effective alternatives to violence and force in both equine and human relationships.
Monty’s unique and gentle method of using the horse’s own language to achieve breakthrough results is revolutionary, but not magical. Communication is a gift we all have; it can be practiced and developed.
The Disabled Veteran's Exemption is outlined in Section 205.5 of the California Revenue & Taxation Code. For qualifying claimants it exempts a portion of the assessed value of their personal residence from property tax.
Medal of Honor recipients, American Ex-Prisoners of War, and 100% Disabled Veterans are eligible for a waiver for motor vehicle registration with a free license plate. This waiver counts for one passenger vehicle, one motorcycle, or one commercial vehicle of less than 8,001 pounds unloaded.
Available to all California motorists, these "Honoring Veterans" specialized California license plates may be ordered with the armed force or veterans’ service organization logo/emblem of your choice.
Most Veterans who are in jail or prison will eventually reenter the community. VA’s HCRV program is designed to promote success and prevent homelessness among Veterans returning home after incarceration.
Despite the circumstances, some justice-involved Veterans may be eligible for VA benefits. Disability compensation, pension, education and training, health care, home loans, insurance, vocational rehabilitation and employment, and burial.
Proposition 47, the ballot initiative passed by California voters on November 4, 2014, reduces certain drug possession felonies to misdemeanors.
It also requires misdemeanor sentencing for petty theft, receiving stolen property and forging/writing bad checks when the amount involved is $950 or less.
For service-connected and non service-connected deaths, the VA pays toward burial expenses based on date of death and other factors, such as whether or not the death was service-connected.
"To provide the state's aged or disabled veterans with rehabilitative, residential, and medical care and services in a home-like environment."
The California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) offers long-term care to California veterans who are aged or disabled and, under certain circumstances, to spouses and domestic partners of veterans. These services are provided at eight Veterans Homes throughout the state, as far north as Redding and as far south as Chula Vista. CalVet’s oldest home, built in 1884, is in Yountville in the Napa Valley. Its newest homes opened in 2013 in Fresno and Redding.
The California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) works to serve California veterans and their families. With nearly 1.8 million veterans living in the State, CalVet strives to ensure that its veterans of every era and their families get the state and federal benefits and services they have earned and deserve as a result of selfless and honorable military service. CalVet strives to serve veterans and their families with dignity and compassion and to help them achieve their highest quality of life.
Defense Finance Accounting Service (DFAS). Located in Indianapolis, Indiana. One of the most visible responsibilities of DFAS is handling military pay.
DFAS pays all DoD military and civilian personnel, retirees and annuitants, as well as major DoD contractors and vendors. DFAS also supports customers outside the DoD in support of electronic government initiatives.
Meeting Times: 1st and 3rd Wednesday
Santa Cruz, CA, 95060
Veterans who are disabled, who served active duty during a wartime period, or in a military campaign are entitled to preference in nearly all federal jobs.
Goodwill Central Coast builds lives, families and communities by helping people with employment needs become successful, supported by innovative enterprises that preserve earth’s resources.
VRSI (Vocational Rehabilitation Specialists Inc.) provides employment services for homeless veterans and other eligible veterans including vocational counseling and vocational evaluation.
Marina, CA, 93933
(831) 224-5943 (From VRSI Website)
As the Coordinator for Registration, Residency, and Veterans, Gloria Lozano administers the GI Benefits and a veteran’s access to priority registration at UCSC.
The Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance (DEA) program offers education and training opportunities to eligible dependents of Veterans who are permanently and totally disabled due to a service-related condition or of Veterans who died while on active duty or as a result of a service-related condition.
The College Tuition Fee Waiver for Dependents of Service Connected Veterans waives mandatory systemwide tuition and fees at any State of California Community College, California State University, or University of California campus.
This program does not cover the expense of books, parking or room and board. There are four plans under which dependents of veterans may be eligible. Veteran must be service connected (0-100%) for their dependents to be eligible.
The Housing Resource Group connects Veterans with local housing resources. The guide below lists all of the meeting times and locations. Low-income Veterans who are eligible for HUD-VASH receive a specialized Housing Choice Voucher to be used at the rental of their choosing.
The HUD-VASH Program provides low-income homeless Veterans with a specialized Housing Choice Voucher to be used at the rental of their choosing. In addition to the rental subsidy, eligible Veterans also receive ongoing VA services from VA Palo Alto Health Care System.
The HUD-VASH Program is a partnership between the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and many local Public Housing Authorities (PHA).
VA provides these services for participating Veterans at VA medical centers and community-based outreach clinics.
Tricare is the medical insurance provided to Active Duty service-members and their dependents. Tricare is also available for Retirees, National Guard and Reserve Members and their families, surviving dependents, and Medal Honor Recipients.
While many Veterans qualify for enrollment and cost-free health care services based on a compensable service-connected condition or other qualifying factors, certain Veterans will be asked to complete a financial assessment to determine their eligibility for cost-free medical services, medications and travel benefits.
Non-VA Care is medical care provided to eligible Veterans outside of the VA when VA facilities are not available. All VA medical centers can use this program when needed.
The use of the Non-VA Care program is governed by federal laws containing eligibility criteria and other policies specifying when and why it can be used. A pre-authorization for treatment in the community is required for Non-VA Care, unless the medical event is an emergency. Emergency events may be reimbursed on behalf of the Veteran in certain cases.
The VA Healthcare system determines eligibility for each veteran, but certain veterans with service-connected disabilities are entitled to priority care. When a veteran enrolls in the VA Healthcare system, the VA assigns veterans to a priority group, numbered 1 through 8.
The lower the number of a priority group, the higher priority the veteran gets in receiving care. This priority takes the form of earlier appointments, priority in the timing of noncritical care, placement in local programs, and care in a local facility when the availability of care is limited.
National Park Pass is a free lifetime pass available to veterans with a minimum 10% service connected disability.
State Park Pass is available to veterans who are 50% service connected and higher.
Annually, the State of California contracts billions of dollars for goods and services to ensure California's economy stays healthy, strong, and prosperous and promotes business opportunities and participation for all of its citizenry.
Small businesses, including veterans, disabled veterans, and disabled veteran business enterprises are instrumental to the good health of the State's economy and a principal source of new jobs in California.
Veterans who have a 30% or higher disability rating can add eligible dependents to their compensation benefits to get a higher payment, also known as a “benefit rate.”
The Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) is a comprehensive health care program in which the VA shares the cost of covered health care services and supplies with eligible beneficiaries. To be eligible the recipient must be one of the following: The spouse or child of a veteran who the VA has rated permanently and totally disabled for a service-connected disability. Contact the VSO Office for more information and assistance.
The CHAMPVA Supplemental Insurance is a private supplement insurance plan, not affiliated with CHAMPVA. It is designed to wrap around your CHAMPVA benefit insurance coverage, so that in most cases, you will obtain reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses not paid for by CHAMPVA. The supplement, like the CHAMPVA health insurance program itself, assists the spouses and dependents of 100% Service Related Disabled Veterans.
Veterans with less than honorable discharges have options available. If you have an OTH discharge and a service related disability you can apply for a Character of Service Determination. Please contact the VSO Office for more information.
Links below provide information and assistance with Discharge Upgrades.
If you served in the United States Military (Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Navy or Marines) you may be eligible for alternative sentencing programs and additional treatment at no cost to you.
It does not matter how long you served, whether or not you served in combat, or what your discharge characterization was.
If you are interested in participating please contact
The California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) works to serve California veterans and their families.
With nearly 1.8 million veterans living in the State, CalVet strives to ensure that its veterans of every era and their families get the state and federal benefits and services they have earned and deserve as a result of selfless and honorable military service. CalVet strives to serve veterans and their families with dignity and compassion and to help them achieve their highest quality of life.
California Women Veterans division provides information, advocate, outreach, and support Women Veterans and their families. California has nearly 145,000 women who served in the U.S military and the number are still rising.
The VA National Cemetery Administration maintains 136 cemeteries in 40 states. In California there are 9 National Cemeteries.
Many states have established state veterans cemeteries. Eligibility is similar to VA national cemeteries, but may include residency requirements. State veterans cemeteries are run solely by the state.
The CCVC is the second California Veterans Cemetery developed and constructed in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Cemetery Grants Program.
Veterans and family members may qualify for a several burial benefits. These include: headstone or marker, presidential certificate, burial flag, honor guards, and National and State Cemeteries.
For service-connected and some non service-connected deaths, the VA can reimburse burial expenses. Please contact the VSO for more information and assistance.
VA and Cal-Vet (California Department of Veteran Affairs) provides Home Loan programs to Servicemembers, Veterans, and eligible surviving spouses.
The VA provides a home loan guaranty benefit and other housing-related programs to help you buy, build, repair, retain, or adapt a home for your own personal occupancy.
Cal-Vet Home loans are designed to make buying a home in California much easier for veterans, and members of the National Guard or Reserves. Cal-Vet Home Loans offer some of the lowest interest rates and require no down payment in most cases. Cal-Vet Home Loans can be used for many types of property including farmland, mobile homes, home improvements, or new construction.
Every veteran needs their DD-214 to receive any type of benefit from any provider. In addition veterans may want their OMPF (Official Military Personnel File), STR's (Service Treatment Records), and awards and decorations. The VSO Office is available to assist with these requests.
Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment (VR&E) commonly referred to as Voc-Rehab or Ch. 31 is a benefit available to veterans who are service connected (disabled due to time in service) and are unemployed.
Services provided under Voc-Rehab may include education and career counseling, readjustment counseling, career assessments and additional VA funding to complete a degree. Among other eligibility requirements, the service member will need to have a service-connected disability of at least 10% or more from the VA.
The Post 9/11 GI Bill provides active duty and veteran service members with education benefits for their military service. Eligibility includes those who have served on active duty for 90 or more days since Sept. 10, 2001. The Post 9/11 GI Bill provides 36 months of educational benefits.
These benefits may cover up to 100% of tuition, fees, and book cost in addition to a housing allowance based upon the total time spent in military service (36 months of service or more for 100% eligibility). This service time can include Title 10 mobilizations and some Title 32 duty for Reservists & National Guard members.
The Survivors Pension benefit: which may also be referred to as Death Pension, is a tax-free monetary benefit payable to a low-income, un-remarried surviving spouse and/or unmarried children of a deceased Veteran with wartime service.
A tax free monetary benefit paid to eligible survivors of military service members who died in the line of duty or eligible survivors of veterans whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease.
Santa Cruz county has several options for qualifying veterans to receive dental care to include coverage through the VA, the VA Dental Insurance Program (VADIP), Dentists for Veterans, and Dentistry 4 Vets.
The VA offers comprehensive dental benefits to certain qualifying Veterans. For more information on eligibility requirements for outpatient VA Dental care, please see the VA Dental Fact Sheet linked below.
If not eligible for VA Dental Benefits, Veterans enrolled in VA Healthcare can purchase dental insurance at a reduced cost through the VA Dental Insurance Program (VADIP). Covered services are offered in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Any Veteran enrolled in VA healthcare and any individual enrolled in CHAMPVA is eligible for the program.
Home health care or In-home care is delivered by a community-based home health agency that has a contract with VA. The program is for Veterans who need skilled services, case management, and help with activities of daily living. Examples include help with bathing, dressing, fixing meals or medication management.
The services of a Homemaker or Home Health Aide can help Veterans remain living in their own home and can serve Veterans of any age.
A Homemaker or Home Health Aide can be used as a part of an alternative to nursing home care, and as a way to get Respite Care at home for Veterans and their family caregiver.
Provide deposit and rent assistance to eligible homeless or at risk of homelessness veterans. Grants are issued through the Veterans Resource Center and the Homeless Services Center.
Provide deposit and rent assistance to eligible homeless or at risk of homelessness veterans. Grants are issued through the Veterans Resource Center and the Homeless Services Center.
The Grant and Per Diem (GPD) program offers upt to 2 years of transitional housing resources to homelss and at risk of being homeless veterans and their families.
Family members and dependents of Service-members who have Retired for Active Duty, are Service Connected, died while in service, or were seriously injured in the line of duty may be eligible for many types of VA benefits.
These benefits may be used to advance in a career, get an education, or provide supplementary income. Surviving spouses may benefit from VA-guaranteed home loans, too. Explore other VA benefits you may have earned as a spouse, child, or parent of a Veteran or Service-member by contacting the Santa Cruz County VSO Office.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a disruption in the normal function of the brain that may happen from a blow or jolt to the head or an object penetrating the brain. When the brain is injured, the person can experience a change in consciousness that can range from becoming disoriented and confused to slipping into a coma.
TBI frequently occurs in combination with other disabling conditions such as amputation, burns, auditory/visual damage, spinal cord injury, PTSD, and other medical conditions. The combination of severe injuries to more than one organ is referred to as polytrauma.
The Palo Alto Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center (PRC) is one of 5 facilities in the country designed to provide intensive rehabilitative care to Veterans and Servicemembers who experienced severe injuries (including brain injuries) to more than one organ system. Palo Alto also houses a Polytrauma Network Site (PNS)- one of 23 facilities designed to provide long-term rehabilitative care designed to provide long-term rehabilitative care.
SGLI provides low cost term life insurance coverage to eligible Service members. Coverage is available in $50,000 increments up to $400,000. Covered members will receive 120 days of free coverage from their date of separation and can be extended up to 2 years if the Service member is totally disabled at separation.
VGLI provides life insurance coverage to veterans after separation from service. Coverage can be provided for lifetime as long as premiums are paid. Coverage is limited to the maximum SGLI the veteran was covered for upon separation, but can be decreased in increments of $10,000. Once enrolled in VGLI, there is the opportunity to increase coverage by $25,000 every 5 years until the maximum of $400,000 until age 60. In order to be eligible, Veteran MUST enroll within 1 year and 120 days from date of separation. If applied for within 240 days of date of separation, veteran does not need to answer health questions.
S-DVI is a program to meet the insurance needs of certain veterans with service-connected disabilities. S-DVI is available in a variety of permanent plans as well as term insurance. Policies are issued for a maximum face amount of $10,000.
There are several modes of transportation throughout Santa Cruz County and to system-wide VA Healthcare facilities:
The bus operates Monday - Friday with stops at the Vet Center in Capitola at 9 am and in front of the Santa Cruz County VSO at 9:20 am. The bus departs VA Palo Alto at 2:00 pm and returns to Santa Cruz at approximately 3:50 pm.
The DAV Van departs from Santa Cruz VSO to Palo Alto. An appointment is required at least 3 days in advance by contacting the Santa Cruz VSO at (831) 454-7276. Note: Appointment times must be 10 am or earlier.
There are multitude of providers for Veterans in the Santa Cruz County and nearby areas. There are government entities and private enterprises that can provide you with assistance for employment, benefits, housing and more.
Local Veteran member organizations provide camaraderie and support to Veterans in the Santa Cruz County.
Non Profit organizations provide Veterans with services and resources outside of the VA to help facilitate reintegration to civilian life, supporting Veterans in need, and more.
VA provides world-class health care to eligible Veterans. The Veterans Health Administration is America’s largest integrated health care system, with more than 1,200 sites of care, and it is consistently ranked among the nation’s top healthcare providers.
Visit our Healthcare page to get an in-depth look at all of the available resources and providers.
Many benefits are available to advance the education and skills of Veterans and Servicemembers. Spouses and family members may also be eligible for education and training assistance.
Visit our education page to get an in depth look at the different programs Veterans or dependents may be eligible for.
Disability Compensation is a monthly tax-free benefit paid to Veterans who are at least 10% disabled because of injuries or diseases that were incurred in or aggravated during active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty
A disability can apply to physical conditions, such as a chronic knee condition, as well as a mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The benefit amount is graduated according to the degree of the Veteran's disability on a scale from 10 percent to 100 percent (in increments of 10 percent).
Compensation may also be paid for disabilities that are considered related or secondary to disabilities occurring in service and for disabilities presumed to be related to circumstances of military service, even though they may arise after service.
Think of your transition to civilian life as a journey. You choose the best route – select the landmarks that will be important to you.
This handbook serves as your guide, offering insight and information as you travel along your route.
Remember, throughout your journey, you remain in charge of where you are going and how you will get there. Once you know your options, you will be able to make informed decisions about the choices open to you and your family. This book provides that direction on life after the military with links to resources and helpful information.
Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) and Concurrent Retirement Disability Pay (CRDP) are programs created by Congress to allow eligible military retirees to receive monthly entitlements in addition to retired pay.
CRSC is a special compensation for combat-related disabilities. It is non-taxable, and retirees must apply to their Branch of Service to receive it.
CRDP is a restoration of retired pay for retirees with service-connected disabilities that was lost due to the VA compensation offset. This means that an eligible retiree's retired pay will be fully restored. CRDP is taxed in the same manner as your retired pay, and it is normally considered taxable income.