The 10 Best and Worst States for Military Retirees

Wyoming is the best place for military personnel to retire, while California is the worst, according to one survey.

National Journal
Matt Vasilogambros
May 23, 2014, 1 a.m.

Mil­it­ary re­tir­ees are not like the av­er­age re­tir­ee: Vet­er­ans may have spe­cial med­ic­al needs, and be­ing dec­ades young­er than the av­er­age re­tir­ee, they usu­ally still need to find work.

So when search­ing for the best place to re­tire from the Armed Forces, there are sev­er­al eco­nom­ic, so­cial, and health care factors for a vet­er­an to take in­to ac­count. Wal­letH­ub, a per­son­al-fin­ance net­work, this week re­leased a sur­vey rank­ing the states and the Dis­trict of Columbia as places for mil­it­ary re­tire­ment.

Wyom­ing tops the list as best.

While med­ic­al treat­ment is one of the more es­sen­tial ser­vices for vet­er­ans — mak­ing the Vet­er­ans Af­fairs De­part­ment scan­dal all the more dis­con­cert­ing this Me­mori­al Day — the sur­vey also takes in­to ac­count hous­ing prices, job op­por­tun­it­ies, and the num­ber of vet­er­an-owned busi­nesses. The sur­vey also con­siders the fact that the av­er­age of­ficer re­tires at 45 years old and av­er­age en­lis­ted per­son­nel re­tire at 41 years old.

So why does Wyom­ing top the list? It ranked in the top five for all three main cat­egor­ies for the sur­vey: eco­nom­ic en­vir­on­ment, qual­ity of life, and health care. Wyom­ing ranks first in the num­ber of VA health fa­cil­it­ies per 10,000 vet­er­ans and also ranks fourth-highest in num­ber of vet­er­ans per 100 res­id­ents.

Among the main rank­ing cat­egor­ies, Delaware leads in the best qual­ity of life for mil­it­ary re­tir­ees, New Hamp­shire has the best health care sys­tem for them, and Mis­sis­sippi has the best eco­nom­ic en­vir­on­ment for them.

Cali­for­nia, though, is the worst state in the coun­try for mil­it­ary re­tir­ees; the sur­vey spe­cific­ally notes its poor eco­nom­ic en­vir­on­ment for vet­er­ans. Cali­for­nia also has the second-low­est num­ber of vet­er­ans per 100 res­id­ents, second-highest per­cent­age of home­less vet­er­ans, and third-highest hous­ing costs.

Though some states rank poorly in in­di­vidu­al cat­egor­ies, not all states are bad for mil­it­ary re­tir­ees over­all. While Texas has the worst qual­ity of life for mil­it­ary re­tir­ees, it ranks 37th over­all in the state rank­ings. Sim­il­arly, Vir­gin­ia has the worst health care sys­tem for mil­it­ary re­tir­ees, but ranks 17th in the coun­try over­all.

For the 2.1 mil­lion mil­it­ary re­tir­ees in the United States, find­ing the right place for re­tire­ment is an es­sen­tial part of their wel­fare after years of ser­vice. Con­sid­er­ing the latest de­vel­op­ments from the VA, mil­it­ary per­son­nel need to look at all factors be­fore choos­ing where to re­tire.

Cor­rec­tion: An earli­er ver­sion of the story mis­labeled the num­ber of mil­it­ary re­tir­ees. There are 21.5 mil­lion vet­er­ans and 2.1 mil­lion mil­it­ary re­tir­ees.

Contributions by Stephanie Stamm
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