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
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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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