With May, Military Appreciation Month, and Memorial Day just around the corner, personal finance website WalletHub released its 2023 Best and Worst States for Military Retirees report, along with an infographic of Memorial Day facts and expert commentary.

To help military members plan for their post-service years, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia on 28 key measures of veteran-friendliness toward retirement. The dataset ranges from employment opportunities for veterans to housing affordability and the quality of VA hospitals.

California Military Retirement (1=Best; 25=Average)

48th – Veterans per capita

49th – % of homeless veterans

50th – Veteran Employment Opportunities

51st – housing affordability

49th – % of businesses owned by veterans

40th – Quality of VA hospitals

For the full report, visit: https://wallethub.com/edu/best-states-for-military-retirees/3915

Facts Memorial Day

97 – The number of members of the 118th Congress who served in the US military, just the fourth time in the last 50 years with an overall increase in the total number of elected veterans.

3.4 million people are expected to travel by plane over Memorial Day weekend (up 11 percent from 2022).

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

15 to 80 percent off – Shoppers can expect discounts during Memorial Day weekend sales.

100M+ – The number of families worldwide who will be watching the National Memorial Day Parade telecast.

Expert’s comment

Do veterans have to pay taxes on their pensions?

“I believe that military pension payments should be taxed similarly to Social Security. However, the multi-tiered taxation structure of the Social Security system, with benefits taxed at 0%, 50% or 85%, is complex and could benefit from modernization. Therefore, a simplified replication of this system for military pensions may not be ideal. Our military members deserve our utmost respect, and while their service deserves substantial pension benefits, a balanced tax system must apply. However, when it comes to disability benefits, the situation is completely different. These benefits should remain tax-free.”

Colin M. Slobach Ph.D. CFP – Clinical Associate Professor; Lead Lecturer in New York University’s Master of Financial Planning Program

“The absence of a federal income tax on veterans’ benefits can provide an additional incentive to attract highly qualified individuals of strong character to consider enlisting in the U.S. armed forces. People generally respond to incentives, and a tax break like this could be the difference for people who are thinking of making that commitment.”

George A. Haloulakas, CFA – Chartered Instructor in Finance, University of California, San Diego; Owner, Spartan Research; Author of Call to Glory

What should veterans consider when choosing where to retire?

“Veterans should retire in the state that brings them the most joy and comfort. Closeness to family is the most important thing. If a veteran plans to work part-time, where is the best place to keep the part-time job? Another important point should be the availability of a hospital for veterans, if that is where they plan to receive medical care. Of course, recreation is also important, whether it’s outdoor activities like hunting or fishing or indoor activities. Each veteran will weigh each of these and other factors differently, but these are the key ones to consider.”

Carl A. Castro, Ph.D. – professor; director of military and veterans programs at the University of Southern California; US Army Colonel (retired)

“If we talk about the quality of life, factors such as proximity to family and friends, as well as the weather, can suggest specific places for recreation. When we talk about money decisions, the two big areas are cost of living and taxes (the cost of living part). States with no state income tax can be very attractive. Given the recent spike in home prices, places where a veteran can afford a home can also be great choices. Some retired veterans, like my brother, like to live very close to a military base so they can use the commissary, gym, health care system, and other services on post. All these factors should be taken into account when deciding where to retire.’

James Brough is a professor at Brigham Young University

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

“Given our nation’s ongoing labor shortage, which can fluctuate based on the latest job postings, there are many economic opportunities for retired military personnel. Rather than list specific occupations in a more general way, I would encourage veterans to look for jobs that require skills that translate well to their military background. This will allow military retirees to make the most of their military experience. Transition experts can assist in this process both mechanically and in terms of decoding military responsibilities into a language that the civilian sector can understand. Conversely, if a veteran wants to make a significant shift in a new career field, this may require additional education or certification(s) to establish professional credibility before seeking a position. Either way, better economic opportunities are more likely to result from a veteran finding the role that provides the most satisfaction. Passion for the profession will lead to productivity and advancement. So, from an economic standpoint, it would be better to start with a low-paying job that the veteran loves than a higher-paying job that makes the veteran miserable. In the end, the previous situation will become economically more profitable.”

Brian S. Payne, Ph.D., CFP is an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha


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