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State needs improving for military retirees

My Opinion
Ross Schulz, Staff Writer

A website called recently created a list of the best and worst states for military retirees in honor of Memorial Day. Normally, these type of rankings shouldn’t elicit more than a passing glance, but Indiana’s place on the list warrants a closer look.
Surprisingly and sadly, Indiana ranked 49th on the list, only ahead of New York and California (the District of Columbia was included for a total of 51).
While some may dismiss it as an inaccurate study, it’s still disturbing that our state would rank so inhospitable for veteran retirees.
The study took into account three aspects of life for military retirees: economic environment, quality of life and health care.
The low quality of life rank maybe shouldn’t surprise us, because no one says, ‘One day when I retire, I’m going to move to Indiana.’
One of the main factors for retirees of any profession searching for a place to live is climate. There’s probably not many who envys an Indiana climate.
The economic environment rank of 40 is surprising, especially since the latest numbers showed Indiana’s unemployment dropped to 5.7 percent, solidly below the national rate of 6.3 percent. The economic environment category took into account state tax on military pension, state and local sales tax, veteran-owned businesses per 1,000 inhabitants, volume of defense department contracts, veteran job opportunities, number of military major bases and installations per 10,000 veterans, housing costs and cost-of-living index.
The Hoosier state should be able to improve at least a couple of those, and the health care rank of 41 needs to be improved upon as well.
The health care ranking takes into account the number of V.A. health facilities per number of veterans, the number of federal, state and local hospitals per 100,000 inhabitants, the number of physicians per 1,000 inhabitants and emotional health.
The numbers aren’t skewed because so few veterans live in the state. The lowest number of veterans per 100 inhabitants by state are Utah, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, California and New York.
Neighboring states Kentucky (39), Illinois (47), Ohio (36) and Michigan (45) didn’t score too strongly either.
The top five best states for military retirees are Wyoming, New Hampshire, Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.
The average retirement age for military officers is 45 and for enlisted personnel it is even younger, at 41, according to the Congressional Research Service, meaning most are still in the civilian job market.
For more information about the study, visit
Indiana needs to do more for its veterans, so the next time a list such as this is published, it won’t be embarrassingly at the bottom of the page.