When you think about all the career, education, and business opportunities available to young people these days, it is easy to question whether joining the military is a good idea after all. As long as your focus is on serving your country, you can never go wrong with joining the military. There is no question that serving in the Armed Forces involves some level of personal sacrifice, but there are certain advantages and benefits that can certainly sweeten the deal. The following five advantages are available to many veterans as well as members who are on active or reserve duty.

State-Level Benefits

Quite a few veterans assume that benefits are managed by the Veterans Administration on a federal level, but many states operate separate programs that act as enhancements. In Florida, for example, a veteran with an honorable discharge is entitled to a 25% discount when they obtain an annual pass to visit state parks. In North Dakota, emergency loans up to $5,000 are available to veterans and surviving spouses. Check with your state’s Department of Veteran Affairs to discover what benefits they provide their veterans and active service members.

Academic Counseling and Advice

When it comes to educational assistance for military personnel, many colleges go out of their way to help veterans, reservists, active duty personnel, and members of the National Guard. Check if the college you are interested in has a Military-Friendly School designation. Active duty service members should talk to their commanding officer before applying for a program with one of these schools. There’s documentation you will be required to provide.

Transferring Educational Benefits

This benefit is only available to veterans of the post-9/11 era. Let’s say you used up less than 50% of the G.I. Bill funds after coming back from Iraq; this does not mean that you will have to return to college and take advantage of the rest. Check with your local VA office to learn more about the process involved in transferring tuition benefits to your children or spouse.

Space-Available Flights

Older veterans may remember the days of MAC flights, when active duty and reservists could hop aboard a C-130 flying cargo or troops from one base to another; although these military flights were completely free as long as you could secure a seat and agree to fly in uniform, they were not the most desirable. Things have changed with the new Air Mobility Command platform, which often features unused seats on Department of Defense passenger flights instead of uncomfortable hops on the belly of Air Force cargo planes.

VA Mortgages

These residential home loans are not for everyone; depending on market conditions, you may be better off with a Fannie Mae mortgage, but if you cannot cover a high down payment, VA loans are for you. Don’t pass up the chance to take advantage of these loans when the time comes.

In the end, many veterans and active duty members miss out on great benefits because they do not know about them. Don’t let this happen to you; be sure to do your research.