For many years, November 11 was known as Armistice Day, which celebrated the signing of the armistice between Allied Nations and Germany which ended the First World War. It wasn't until 1954 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a law that changed the name of the holiday to Veterans Day, to honor all veterans who have served, past and present in America's Armed Forces.
With over 19.2 million veterans currently living in the U.S., they face a unique set of challenges many people do not after returning from service, with many unable to secure healthcare, jobs or shelter. While unemployment and homelessness has declined nationally for veterans over the past few years, some places in the country can be harder on former service members than others.
That's why a new survey from WalletHub can help military veterans find the best place to live and work in the U.S. and have a chance to settle down and grow some roots. WalletHub's survey compared the 100 largest U.S. cities across 20 key indicators, including the number of military skill-related jobs, affordability, and veteran-friendliness.
Turns out, military veterans can't do much better than Tampa, Florida, which was ranked #1 on WalletHub's list of veteran-friendly cities. A low unemployment rate and high number of veteran-friendly jobs allow this city to boast it's a perfect place for a former military man or woman to set up a place to call home. In fact, several cities in Florida were ranked high on WalletHub's list, including; Orlando, St. Petersburg, and Jacksonville.
If finding a job ranks high on your priority list, there's a bit of good news there. No matter where you are in the country, there's a likely a city near you with plenty of veteran-friendly jobs. If you like the sunshine and beaches, Santa Ana, California reportedly has plenty of jobs available. If you prefer wide-open spaces, Lubbock, Texas is another good option. Or if you prefer the great outdoors, there's always a job in Boise, Idaho.
For veterans who are looking to live among other former military service members, Virginia Beach or Chesapeake, Virginia could be your next address.
While much of what makes a city good for veterans can come down to personal choice, Dana Rocha, the Director of Military and Veterans Success Center at Colorado State University says, location can be a big factor for many, especially when it comes to cost-of-living for the area.
"Important factors to consider are the cost of housing, taxes, schools, health care, and military benefits for that state should be easily accessible. For those with children or who are looking for schools, should consider colleges and K-12 schools in the state that support military families, such as allowing transfer of credits," Rocha advises. "In addition, jobs that support veterans with or without degrees should be readily available."
Rocha says the number one issue facing veterans today is the transition between military and civilian life, which is another thing to keep in mind when choosing where to live.
"Most enter into colleges, universities and technical institutions within the last duty state for the Post 9/11 educational benefit and housing allotment. Colorado has a high veteran population and is also a highly educated state, which makes it difficult for those just getting out of the military to find employment if they do not have a degree."
Rocha points out that it can also be difficult for many veterans to enter college without having some kind of previous credits.
"Veterans can also struggle with health care for themselves as well as their families. VA appointments are scheduled months in advance and may be cities away. Local healthcare providers may not be “veteran-friendly” and may not support military insurance," Rocha points out.
"The transition from active duty to veteran briefings on military installations provides a multitude of resources and this information is a lot to take in during transition, especially for those service members who may have a disability like PTS (Post Traumatic Stress) or a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury)," she adds.
Photo: Unsplash & WalletHub