South Dakota offers a wide range of benefits for veterans and active duty service members.
Free Certified Copies of Veterans Records
South Dakota counties may not charge for certified copies of birth, death, marriage, adoption, divorce, guardianship or conservatorship papers when such records are required in support of a claim against any agency of the federal or state government by, or on behalf of , a service member or veteran, or the spouse, surviving spouse or dependents of a service member or veteran.
Burial Allowance for Veterans, Wives or Widows
A payment of up to $100 may be paid by the state to help defray the burial and funeral expenses of any honorably discharged veteran or the wife, widow or widower of a veteran when the estate, or immediate family, of the deceased is lacking in funds to pay the expenses. The veteran must have been a citizen of the United States for one year preceding entrance into military service or one year preceding the death. This payment CANNOT be made to another unit of government. The surviving spouse, or relatives, must furnish an affidavit to the C/TVSO that sufficient funds are not available for payment of the expenses.
MVA/DVA B-2 (Rev. 10/94) "Application for Veterans $100 Burial Allowance," MVA/DVA 135 (Rev. 10/94) "Affidavit," and a copy of the funeral bill must be submitted to the Pierre office within one year from the date of the burial.
Headstone Setting Fee
The state will pay $40 towards the cost of setting a government headstone or marker at the grave of a veteran who was a resident of this state for one year preceding entrance into the military service or one year preceding death.
MVA/DVA B-1 (Rev. 10/94) "Application for Veterans $40 Headstone Setting Fee" must be submitted to the Pierre Office within one year from the date of setting of the headstone or marker.
Emergency Loan Fund for Veterans and Their Dependents
An interest free loan of up to $500 may be made, to veterans or a veteran’s dependents, if financial relief is required for any emergency need. The amount loaned must be repaid within two years. To qualify, the veteran must meet the definition of a veteran (SDCL 33-17-1 & 33-17-2) and must have been a legal resident of South Dakota at the time of entry into service or for at least one year immediately prior to application.
MVA/DVA 105 (Rev. 7/96) "Veterans Division Revolving Fund Loan Application" and a copy of the veteran’s discharge is submitted to the Pierre office. The SD Veterans Commission reviews the application and makes the determination as to whether the loan is granted or denied.
Free Tuition for Veterans
Certain veterans are eligible to take undergraduate courses at a state university without the payment of tuition provided they are not eligible for educational payments under the GI Bill or any other federal educational program. To qualify the veteran must:
- Have been discharged under Honorable conditions
- Be a current resident of South Dakota and qualify for in-state tuition
- Meet one of the following criteria served on active duty at any time between August 2, 1990 and March 3, 1991.
- Received an Armed Forces Expeditionary medal, Southwest Asia Service medal, or other United States campaign or service medal for participation in combat operations against hostile forces outside the boundaries of the United States.
- Has a service connected disability rated 10%, or more, disabling.
Eligible veterans may receive one month of free tuition for each month of "qualifying service" with a minimum of one, up to a maximum of four, academic years. Qualifying service is defined as: the amount of time served on active duty between the beginning and ending dates of the particular period of conflict or hostilities during which the veteran earned eligibility for this program. Since all of the post-Vietnam conflicts have been very short in duration, the majority of veterans who qualify will be entitled to only the minimum, one academic year, of free tuition. Under the free tuition program, the veteran has twenty (20) years from the ending date of the specific period of service during which he or she served and met the eligibility criteria, or, twenty (20) years after the date that he or she was rated 10%, or more, disabled by the DVA.
EXAMPLE: A veteran earned the Armed Forces Expeditionary medal for serving in Grenada in October 1983. As the hostilities in Grenada were declared to have ceased as of November 21, 1983, the veteran has until November 21, 2003, to use the free tuition program.