veterans

(Photo by Craig Adderley from Pexels)

WASHINGTON — As the United States honors the men and women who have served their country, a new study has found the cities which are doing the most for their veterans.

Overall, more than 18.5 million veterans currently live in the U.S., according to the Veterans Association. While many are able to rejoin the civilian population without any issues, other struggle to find work, housing, and even healthcare after serving in the military. In fact, over 37,000 veterans were homeless before the COVID-19 pandemic and record inflation even took place.

A new WalletHub survey found 71 percent of military members think the U.S. does not take care of its veterans financially. More than half (56%) think that poor financial literacy among military personnel is a threat to national security.

Additionally, seven in 10 think military families experience more financial stress than the average family. Two in three veterans think they should be exempt from paying bills while on active duty.

Luckily, some areas are doing a better job than others when it comes to taking care of those who serve. The team at WalletHub looked at the 100 largest U.S. cities and compared them across 20 key measures of livability, affordability, and veteran-friendliness. The results suggest that veterans will find the best living conditions where the weather is nice and warm!

North Carolina, Texas, and Florida among the best states for veterans

Topping the list is Raleigh, North Carolina, which earned the best overall score in terms of employment, economy, health, and quality of life for veterans. Specifically, the East Coast city with roughly 480,000 residents boasts the fourth-best economy for veterans and fifth-best job market. Raleigh also has the third-fewest number of homeless veterans per the city’s overall veteran population — behind only Virginia Beach, Virginia and Toledo, Ohio.

Two Texas cities round out the top three, Austin (2nd) and Laredo (3rd). Veterans in Austin enjoy top-10 marks in terms of the local job market and quality of life. Meanwhile, Laredo ranked first in the country in terms of the economic climate for vets. Laredo also finished in the top four for veteran income growth, behind only Hialeah and Miami, Florida and Atlanta, Georgia.

Rounding out the top 10 best cities for veterans are Madison, Wisconsin (4th), Tampa, Florida (5th), Orlando, Florida (6th), Boise, Idaho (7th), Lincoln, Nebraska (8th), Irvine, California (9th), and Colorado Springs, Colorado (10th).

Just missing out on the top 10 was Virginia Beach, which the study found has the biggest veteran population — but the fewest number of homeless residents. Interestingly, New York has the fifth-fewest number of veterans living in the city, despite having a population of more than 8.4 million people.

Big cities are some of the worst places for vets

Speaking of large metropolitan areas, the study found many at the bottom of the list when it comes to taking care of their veteran population. Finishing in last (100th) is Detroit, which received the lowest score for employment and finished 99th for quality of life — behind only Newark, New Jersey.

Other notable cities finishing near the bottom of the list are Baltimore (97th), Chicago (93rd), Cleveland (90th), New York (82nd), Los Angeles (80th), and Honolulu (79th).

San Francisco and Boston finished as the two worst cities when it comes to the number of homeless veterans on their streets. Meanwhile, North Las Vegas and Miami have the lowest percentage of military skill-related jobs available for workers.

What factors should a veteran consider when choosing what city to live in?

“As with many questions, the answer to this depends on the status of the veteran at the time of their separation and their former rank when in the military. Typically, retirees, and especially retired officers, can choose to live almost anywhere,” says David T. Vacchi, Ph.D., an associate professor of Professional Military Education at the U.S. Naval War College, in a statement.

“The challenge is more for those separating from the military without the extra income that comes with being retired. I would recommend those veterans seek small to medium-sized cities with an array of job opportunities and perhaps in the suburbs of those areas to keep housing costs a little more in check. The bottom line, separating from the military and moving to an area with a shrinking economy is a recipe for failure.”

Best Cities for Veterans to Live

Overall Rank 

City

Total Score 

Employment 

Economy 

Quality of Life 

Health 

1 Raleigh, NC 70.76 5 4 12 37
2 Austin, TX 69.01 8 25 9 33
3 Laredo, TX 68.40 16 1 51 2
4 Madison, WI 68.37 4 7 19 25
5 Tampa, FL 66.96 47 32 5 14
6 Orlando, FL 66.93 40 38 2 20
7 Boise, ID 66.87 3 31 3 71
8 Lincoln, NE 66.56 2 5 28 72
9 Irvine, CA 65.92 7 68 26 8
10 Colorado Springs, CO 65.58 37 17 14 36
11 Virginia Beach, VA 65.27 53 2 11 70
12 St. Petersburg, FL 64.84 31 40 13 27
13 Minneapolis, MN 64.04 19 36 23 23
14 Durham, NC 63.87 1 50 42 29
15 Gilbert, AZ 63.61 11 9 22 73
16 San Diego, CA 63.59 76 71 1 15
17 Scottsdale, AZ 63.40 58 15 4 73
18 Plano, TX 62.38 45 55 15 42
19 Denver, CO 62.31 56 46 10 38
20 Miami, FL 62.18 60 57 36 5
21 Jacksonville, FL 61.10 28 21 43 34
22 Fort Worth, TX 60.83 36 3 49 55
23 Chandler, AZ 60.76 35 23 21 73
24 Charlotte, NC 60.64 17 34 33 57
25 Seattle, WA 59.87 38 81 20 28
26 Fremont, CA 59.17 9 93 41 3
27 Oklahoma City, OK 58.94 6 12 35 86
28 Columbus, OH 58.81 20 8 38 80
29 San Antonio, TX 58.74 62 11 37 43
30 Chesapeake, VA 58.68 44 6 31 92
31 Sacramento, CA 57.89 57 82 25 18
32 Pittsburgh, PA 57.78 91 37 24 26
33 Henderson, NV 57.53 41 43 27 89
34 Omaha, NE 57.48 10 27 56 66
35 San Jose, CA 57.16 25 95 40 1
36 Chula Vista, CA 56.93 81 60 52 7
37 San Francisco, CA 56.92 49 100 8 13
38 St. Paul, MN 56.77 23 49 46 63
39 Irving, TX 56.47 13 20 75 50
40 Lexington-Fayette, KY 56.46 68 26 34 53
41 Arlington, TX 56.24 12 18 77 58
42 El Paso, TX 56.10 66 10 66 35
43 Dallas, TX 56.08 33 62 58 31
44 Tucson, AZ 55.89 24 29 48 69
45 Cincinnati, OH 55.70 48 76 32 48
46 Mesa, AZ 55.58 21 30 59 73
47 Las Vegas, NV 55.18 71 66 7 95
48 Anchorage, AK 54.78 50 13 63 67
49 Nashville, TN 54.74 22 70 39 81
50 Albuquerque, NM 54.64 30 24 62 64
51 Garland, TX 54.39 15 52 82 46
52 New Orleans, LA 54.03 51 78 47 41
53 Anaheim, CA 53.89 61 84 57 8
54 St. Louis, MO 53.24 54 67 53 47
55 Glendale, AZ 52.56 18 39 83 73
56 Winston-Salem, NC 52.47 26 45 85 60
57 Kansas City, MO 52.26 32 53 55 91
58 Portland, OR 52.11 70 92 18 49
59 Greensboro, NC 52.05 14 42 92 61
60 Tulsa, OK 51.90 63 16 72 79
61 Hialeah, FL 51.86 94 58 78 6
62 Buffalo, NY 51.78 99 22 67 12
63 Long Beach, CA 51.77 75 94 45 11
64 Santa Ana, CA 51.70 52 85 80 8
65 Aurora, CO 51.59 88 41 68 24
66 Washington, DC 51.52 64 87 17 85
67 Riverside, CA 51.33 79 65 76 17
68 Boston, MA 51.09 29 96 50 19
69 Louisville, KY 51.00 78 35 44 82
70 Philadelphia, PA 50.27 59 74 64 54
71 Phoenix, AZ 50.18 34 48 61 97
72 Reno, NV 50.10 80 73 30 87
73 Atlanta, GA 49.88 72 86 16 96
74 Houston, TX 49.80 89 19 73 52
75 Norfolk, VA 49.61 85 54 60 56
76 Milwaukee, WI 49.55 65 64 87 45
77 Fort Wayne, IN 49.53 27 33 70 98
78 Oakland, CA 49.52 43 99 71 3
79 Honolulu, HI 49.47 83 98 6 68
80 Los Angeles, CA 48.90 90 97 29 21
81 Wichita, KS 48.84 42 14 94 84
82 New York, NY 48.77 84 89 54 30
83 Lubbock, TX 48.11 39 59 90 78
84 Birmingham, AL 47.66 77 51 65 88
85 Corpus Christi, TX 47.24 73 61 86 59
86 Jersey City, NJ 47.18 67 77 84 51
87 North Las Vegas, NV 47.16 69 56 79 89
88 Bakersfield, CA 46.64 97 47 81 32
89 San Bernardino, CA 46.15 55 72 98 22
90 Cleveland, OH 46.02 87 75 88 39
91 Indianapolis, IN 45.03 46 63 93 94
92 Fresno, CA 44.09 74 91 89 40
93 Chicago, IL 43.99 93 79 74 65
94 Stockton, CA 43.93 95 69 96 16
95 Toledo, OH 42.96 82 28 95 99
96 Baton Rouge, LA 41.65 96 80 69 83
97 Baltimore, MD 40.68 86 88 97 44
98 Memphis, TN 40.44 92 44 91 100
99 Newark, NJ 33.61 98 83 100 62
100 Detroit, MI 28.82 100 90 99 93

Note: With the exception of “Total Score,” all of the columns in the table above depict the relative rank of that city, where a rank of 1 represents the best conditions for that metric category.

About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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