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South Carolina rated the best, Oregon worst for military retirees

Military families are accustomed to moving, but when it comes time to retire, it can be difficult to decide where to put down roots. For example, veterans must consider state tax policies on military benefits, along with the relative friendliness of different job markets and other socioeconomic factors, when choosing a state in which to settle down. Many retirees also face major struggles including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, disability and homelessness.

With May being Military Appreciation Month and Memorial Day approaching, the personal-finance website WalletHub released its report on the Best & Worst States for Military Retirees in 2024, along with its Memorial Day Facts infographic and expert commentary.

To help troops plan their years after service, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 28 key indicators of retirement-friendliness for veterans. The data set ranges from job opportunities for veterans to housing affordability to the quality of VA hospitals.

South Carolina came in at the top of the list, followed by Florida at number two, Virginia, Maryland and North Dakota rounding out the top five. The bottom five were Nevada, District of Columbia, Vermont, New Mexico, and last on the list, Oregon. California was ranked at number 41.

“Transitioning from military to civilian life isn’t easy, but the best states for military retirees make that adjustment as smooth as possible. In addition to providing the conditions necessary for our veterans to thrive financially, they also have ample resources for taking care of military retirees’ physical and mental health,” said WalletHub Analyst Cassandra Happe. “South Carolina is the best state for military retirees, in part because it has many policies in place to help veterans. The state allows businesses to give preferential hiring to veterans, offers academic credit for military service, and has veteran treatment courts, which give services like treatment and mentoring to veterans in the criminal justice system. South Carolina doesn’t tax military pensions, either. In addition, the Palmetto State has the fourth-best VA hospitals in the country, and the fourth-most veteran-owned businesses per capita.”


Military Retirement in California (1=Best; 25=Avg.):

Overall Rank: 41st

48th – Veterans per Capita

2nd – Number of VA Health Facilities per Number of Veterans

48th – Percent of Homeless Veterans

32nd – Veteran Job Opportunities

51st – Housing Affordability

46th – Percent of Veteran-Owned Businesses

1st – Number of VA Benefits-Administration Facilities per Number of Veterans

40th – Quality of VA Hospitals


Memorial Day Facts

3.5M – Number of people expected to travel by plane over Memorial Day weekend (up five percent over 2023).

818 – Number of hot dogs consumed every second from Memorial Day to Labor Day (seven billion total).

15 to 80 Percent Off – Discount shoppers can expect during Memorial Day weekend sales.

100M+ – Number of households worldwide that will watch the National Memorial Day parade broadcast on TV.


For the full report, visit:


Expert Commentary

Should veterans have to pay taxes on retirement pay?

“It may seem both unnecessary and unfair to have veterans pay taxes from money already generated from taxes to fund national security. Veteran retirement pay may be considered a return on the taxpayers’ investment for the defense of our nation and our planet. Taxes on this pay can create a longer-run disincentive for military service.”

Ahmed S. Rahman – Associate Professor, Lehigh University


“Of course, they should not! Most states recognize this; Virginia recently repealed the tax on military retired pay. States are competing for veteran talent, and military retirees have several decades of productive working life remaining. Attracting them to your state requires a deliberate effort, and not taxing military retired pay is a small price to pay.”

Daniel Gade – Adjunct Professorial Lecturer, American University



How should the government help the military community?

“The government needs to continue to make the military and veterans a priority. They should continue to have unwavering support for our community, especially much-needed services like housing, employment, and mental health.”

Daryl Griffin – Veterans Academic Advisor / Veteran Resource Center Co-Manager, LaGuardia Community College/CUNY


What are the best economic opportunities for retired military personnel looking for a new career?

“Seven percent of the civilian noninstitutional population aged 18 and over are veterans. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2023, the largest share of veterans worked for the government at 22 percent, followed by work in manufacturing, professional and business services, and education and health services. Along with these general sectors, those with military experience often find employment opportunities in defense contracting, security and risk management, logistics and supply-chain management, emergency management and disaster response, information technology, and cybersecurity. Veterans need to appreciate that the military forms its own sub-economy, with various sectors employing personnel in industrial production, transportation, health and education services, and technology, to name but a few areas.”

Ahmed S. Rahman – Associate Professor, Lehigh University


“Veterans make great entrepreneurs! Start your own business and you will never have to work for anyone else. It is a great feeling. There are so many resources – Boots to Business and other entrepreneurship training programs.”

Daniel Gade – Adjunct Professorial Lecturer, American University