You may be aware of the many federal benefits available to Veterans, dependents, and survivors; but there are also lesser-known state benefits ranging from free college and employment resources to tax breaks and cash bonuses.

These are just a few of the things that military spouses might consider as their family nears a transition into retirement and a civilian life. But, how do you possibly know which state offers the benefits that are most important to you and your life after retirement? 

Thankfully, we’ve put together a countdown of 5 states that offer some of the best military retirement opportunities around. Is your state #1? You’ll have to read to find out!

5. Alaska

The Last Frontier is home to more than 68,000 Veterans, and it’s no surprise! Alaska has some pretty great education, employment, healthcare, and recreational benefits as well as tax breaks/exemptions for Veterans. Some of the stand-out benefits include:

  • Tuition waivers for Veterans, as well as their spouses and/or dependents
  • Priority services through the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, which include job workshops, priority job referrals, special programs, resume assistance, and job development
  • Mortgage loan assistance and special financing through the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation
  • Don’t require military members to pay state income tax on military retirement pay

See a full list of Alaska state Veteran benefits.

4. South Dakota

South Dakota Military Retirement

According to WalletHub, South Dakota has the second-highest job opportunities for Veterans and is ranked number three for its economic environment and number four for healthcare. A few of their stand-out benefits include:

  • Free tuition at state colleges for honorably discharged residents and dependents of those killed in action
  • Discounted hunting and fishing licenses, as well as free admission to state parks
  • Don’t require military members to pay state income tax on military retirement pay

See a full list of South Dakota state Veteran benefits.

3. Florida

Florida Military Retirement

Florida is a well-known retirement spot, but one of the groups the state serves best are the men and women who served their country. According to MilitaryTimes, Florida is home to 1.5 million Veterans, 162,000 being women — and that may be attributed to these benefits:

  • Two major financial education programs for Veterans: Financial Frontlines and Serve Save Succeed
  • Highly rated Veteran hospitals, outpatient clinics, and vet centers
  • 67 county Veteran service offices as part of the Florida Veterans Foundation to assist Veterans in finding employment, housing, transportation, and benefits assistance
  • Plentiful peer-to-peer social opportunities, given that Florida has the second-highest number of people 65+ living there
  • No state tax on military pensions

See a full list of Florida state Veteran benefits.

2. South Carolina

South Carolina Military Retirement

According to WalletHub, South Carolina has the second-highest percentage of Veteran-Owned businesses and is ranked second for its quality of life. With over 350,000 Veteran residents in South Carolina, Veterans make up 7 percent of the state’s population and the benefits certainly live up to the hype. Here are just a few of the top Veteran benefits in the state:

  • College credit for military training, tuition assistance, and free college tuition for children of Veterans
  • Veteran employment preference when applying for federal, state, county, and local government jobs
  • Property tax exemption for disabled Veterans, former POWs, and Medal of Honor recipients
  • Special provisions for military retirement pay — Military retirees with a minimum of 20 years of active duty may exempt up to $3,000 until age 65, after which an exemption of $10,000 applies
  • State park discounts and free hunting and fishing licenses for disabled Veterans
  • Free license plate for disabled Veterans

See a full list of South Carolina state Veteran benefits.

1. Virginia

Virginia Military Retirement

According to WalletHub, Virginia has the second-lowest percent of homeless Veterans and is ranked number four for its job opportunities. The state’s 26 benefits service offices are available to connect Veterans with information on federal, state, and local programs throughout Virginia, including:

  • Educational benefits for spouses and children of military servicemembers through the Military Survivors and Dependents Program
  • Exemptions from Virginia income tax and real estate property taxes
  • Preference for state jobs
  • Free and discounted hunting and fishing licenses, depending on VA disability rating
  • Free and discounted state park admission, depending on VA disability rating
  • Veteran cemetery burial at no cost to honorably discharged Veterans

See a full list of Virginia state Veteran benefits.

Was your state not on the list? Check’s directory of State Veterans Benefits to see what the location you are considering offers you and your family. 

We want to hear from you! What do you think is most important when making the decision on where to live once your family has made it to the military transition and retirement stage?

More Resources for Living Your Best Life in Retirement

Solutions for Your Military Family:

Life Insurance, Wealth Management, Home Mortgages, Survivor Services, and more. Learn more about AAFMAA.

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