Washington state

Washington has a huge military presence, but survey says it’s less friendly to veterans

The Evergreen State is home to the nation’s largest military bases, two air craft carriers and some of the Navy’s most powerful submarines but it can be a difficult place to retire for troops when they’re ready to leave the armed forces, according to a survey conducted by financial services website WalletHub.

The study broke down all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C., in terms of economic environment (including tax friendliness and job opportunities), quality of life (including share of veterans and number of homeless vets), and health care (including the number of VA hospitals).

The survey found that Washington is a middle of the pack state for retired military to settle in, neither among the best nor among the worst.

The Evergreen state came in at No. 28 overall and was middle of the road for economic conditions (No. 22), quality of life (No. 26) and health care (No. 30).

Neighboring Idaho fared much better, coming in at No. 9 overall. Oregon, by comparison, was among the worst, coming in at No. 50.

So, should retired military members consider the Pacific Northwest for their forever home?

“In looking at states that tax military retirement, TRICARE eligible facilities, veteran friendly communities and employment opportunities, one must consider all of these in their decision making,” said Mike Brown, director of the Office of Veterans and Military Service Members at Villanova University in Pennsylvania, in a statement to WalletHub.

When it comes to choosing a place to retire, retired Lt. Col. Michael C. Wise told WalletHub that, “Cities and states that have large military bases in their communities are often recommended to be the best places to retire as the entire community supports the military.”

Washington is home to about 60,000 active-duty military service members, the seventh most among states, according to the Defense Department. Joint Base Lewis-McChord is the single largest base in the state.

WalletHub’s survey found that overall, Virginia is the best state for retired veterans, followed by Florida and then Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

The worst place for retired military is Washington, D.C., followed by Oregon, Vermont, New York and Mississippi, according to the WalletHub survey.

Related stories from Tacoma News Tribune