Florida placed second among all states in a new report by WalletHub that examined the best and worst states for military retirees. The report utilized metrics such as economic environment, quality of life, and health care.
Florida received an overall score of 59.32, just a point behind list-topping Virginia. The Sunshine State scored highly in economic environment, placing 10th out of 51 states, including Washington D.C., and ranked 4th in quality of life.
Florida scored slightly lower in health care accessibility, though still found itself within the top half of states at 24th.
Florida currently offers special benefits for service members, veterans, and their families, including homestead tax exemptions, state employment preferences, and education and tuition assistance. A considerable portion of Florida’s state legislature consists of former military personnel, including Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The report asked veterans about hot topic discussions within the community of retirees, including Jeremiah D. Gunderson, who was asked whether veterans should have to pay taxes on retirement pay.
“Some of the greatest considerations should be whether a state charges income tax, tax on military retirement pay, and/or taxes on other investment vehicles, said Gunderson. “Those taxes can take a big chunk out of the amount a retiree has to live on. Texas, for instance, does not have a state income tax. Another consideration should be the services available to the veteran in that state or region. Being close to a VA hospital or other veteran resources can make a big difference. With the Choice Act, this is not as big a consideration as it used to be, but that program is not without its issues”
Similarly, retired Colonel Patricia A. Patrician was asked what the best economic opportunities for retired individuals looking for a new career would be.
“Education – elementary, secondary, and colleges/universities. Nurse leadership for retired nurse corps officers – in health care systems, academia, etc.,” responded Patrician.
Adding to the status of Florida’s veteran assistance, DeSantis this week announced his approval of the Hometown Heroes housing program, allowing individuals that serve or have served in the military to secure buyer-friendly loans to buy property within the state.
The Florida Hometown Hero Program was proposed during the 2022 Legislative Session and would reduce the initial cost of getting into a home by providing zero-interest loans for those individuals that qualify through their profession.
The loans would provide up to 5 percent of the purchase price and include Floridians that belong to the ‘Hometown Heroes’ series of occupations and have an income of no greater than 150 percent of the state or local median income.