More vets live in California than any other state, but that might not be for long. Here’s a look at how California ranks in several categories for veterans and what the future might hold.
Best places to live
This week the personal finance website WalletHub released its report on the best and worst places for veterans to live. The report compares the 100 largest U.S. cities, using 17 metrics. California has more than 1.73 million veterans and had 17 cities ranked. Here’s a look:
You can see the full report at WalletHub here.
- Austin, Texas
- Colorado Springs, Colo.
- Virginia Beach, Va.
- Raleigh, N.C.
- Plano, Texas
- Tampa, Fla.
- San Diego
- Boise, Idaho
92. San Bernardino
93. Toledo, Ohio
94. North Las Vegas
95. Birmingham, Ala.
96. Memphis, Tenn.
97. Hialeah, Fla.
99. Newark, N.J.
How the rankings are calculated:
Total scores are based on rankings for jobs, economy, quality of life and health. Rankings are based on some of the following criteria, with 25 points in each category:
Jobs: Share of military skill-related jobs and veteran unemployment rates.
Economy: Housing affordability, veteran income growth, education opportunity and share of veterans living below the poverty level.
Quality of life: Veteran population levels, family-friendliness and retiree-friendliness.
Health: VA benefits facilities and quality of the facilities.
Veteran population projections
The Department of Veterans Affairs predicts the total veteran population is predicted to decline from 20 million in 2017 to 13.6 million in 2037.
Veteran population in millions
Population projection by generation
Where the vets live
California has the most veterans of any state, with 1.73 million in FY 2016.
VA facilities, California, National
Number of inpatient care sites, 10, 155
Number of outpatient care sites, 60, 1,028
Number of vet centers, 30, 300
Number of VBA regional offices, 3, 55
Number of cemeteries, 13, 243
Annual percentage change of veteran population by congressional district: 2017-2027
About 25 percent of veterans reside in the California, Texas and Florida. Veterans are moving to the West and South. Texas is projected to have more veterans than California in 2027, and Florida is projected to have more in 2037.
Charities for vets
According to CharityWatch, donors who want to make contributions to programs that serve the military and veterans face an almost overwhelming volume of choices. By some accounts, there are more than 40,000 nonprofit organizations dedicated to serving the military and veterans.
The 2014 Directory of Veterans and Military Service Organizations published by the VA lists more than 140 national nonprofit organizations. CharityWatch rates 53 charities for veterans and the military, and unfortunately, 26 of them receive an “F” grade for being financially inefficient. There were 16 charities with a grade of “C” or higher.
As taxpayers, we all pay for veterans benefits. The Veterans Affairs Department is the second largest federal agency in the U.S. government, behind only the Defense Department, with over 340,000 employees and a 2015 budget of almost $164 billion. Included in the budget is over $95 billion allocated for mandatory programs such as disability compensation and pensions and $56 billion for medical care.
Needs for vets
There are six areas for the needs of veterans and the military highlighted in the 2013 report by Serving Those Who Served: Education, employment, family and community, legal/financial/housing, mental health and physical health.
You can read the whole report here.
The same report also notes there are three services the government does not provide support for: Bereavement services, connections with other veterans, emergency funds
Sources: National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics, Wallethub.com, The Associated Press, CharityWatch, Charity Navigator, “Serving Those Who Served: A Wise Giver’s Guide to Assisting Veterans and Military Families, ” by Thomas Meyer, PhilanthropyRoundtable
Photo from Wikimedia Commons