Editor’s Note: Whether you’re firing up the grill or lounging poolside today, it’s easy to forget what Independence Day is truly about: celebrating the men and women who have fought so hard to keep our great country safe.
So today, Steve is talking about his difficult transition from active military life to civilian life. It’s an eye-opening look at the reality of what veterans face here in the U.S.
And from all of us at Wealthy Retirement, we want to thank the brave people who have served – and continue to serve – our country today and every day.
Happy Fourth of July!
– Amanda Tarlton, Assistant Managing Editor
Moving from a world where you have a schedule, people who depend on you, a social network and deadlines to one that is completely unstructured can be devastating.
Most people underestimate how difficult this transition from the work world to retirement can be. And many pay the price with a significant mental and physical decline.
For civilians, the move from business, medicine, manufacturing or any position to retirement can be tough. But for those leaving the military after 20 or 30 years, the transition can be borderline impossible.
The readjustment to civilian life from the ultra-structured world of military discipline poses unique problems that can take years to resolve.
But there are some states that are more open and friendlier to veterans than others. And a helping hand can make all the difference when you move to “CivLant” (the Navy’s term for retirement).
A recent WalletHub study tracked economic environment, quality of life and healthcare availability for vets to determine which locations are the best for retired military personnel.
The study looked at 22 key metrics, including tax friendliness, Veterans Affairs (VA) benefit facilities, VA health facilities, veteran-owned businesses and the number of military bases.
The states with the highest numbers of veteran-owned businesses are South Carolina, Alabama and Virginia.
The most affordable housing for vets is in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota. Better take your woolies for those places.
The states with the lowest numbers of homeless vets are Mississippi, Virginia and Iowa.
Job opportunities for ex-military are best in Indiana, New Hampshire and Vermont.
But the state with the best overall score in all 22 categories was Florida… and for good reasons.
The Sunshine State has the third-largest number of retired service members. Miami-Dade County alone has 56,000 vets.
It is also one of the top states for veteran employment. It doesn’t tax military pensions, and survivor benefits plans are tax-exempt.
And a number of Florida VA hospitals ranked very high.
Depending on when you served and your disability rating, vets also receive preferential consideration for government jobs.
As a side note, New York and Washington, D.C., were at or near the bottom of every category.
I know firsthand how difficult it is to move back into civilian life. I was discharged for medical reasons after just eight years in the Navy, but I had planned to serve for 30 years.
My first few years back in civilian life were incredibly difficult. Just getting the taxes on my disability straightened out in Maryland took several years.
And, to be honest, after 30 years out, I still don’t feel like a civilian. I guess you never lose it.
For anyone retiring, but especially for our vets who have a much bigger hurdle to overcome in their re-entry, take the time to make the right moves and to consider all of your options before you rotate.
This country can never do enough for those who have served, but you have to make the effort to make your retirement the best it can be.
Take a look at this WalletHub study. It might save you a bundle and help you more easily embrace your newfound independence.