With Veterans Day on the minds of many this month and the COVID-19 pandemic leading to an increase in veteran unemployment, the personal-finance website WalletHub recently released its report on 2020’s Best & Worst Places for Veterans to Live.
The report compares the 100 largest U.S. cities across 20 key metrics, ranging from the share of military skill-related jobs to housing affordability and the availability of VA health facilities.
WalletHub also released the results of its 2020 Military Money Survey, which revealed that 75% of Americans agree that military families experience more financial stress than the average family. To help with that, WalletHub’s editors selected 2020’s Best Military Credit Cards, which provide hundreds of dollars in annual savings potential, according to a WalletHub news release.
|Best Cities for Veterans
|Worst Cities for Veterans
|1. Orlando, FL
|91. New York, NY
|2. Irvine, CA
|92. Fresno, CA
|3. Tampa, FL
|93. Anaheim, CA
|4. Raleigh, NC
|94. Jersey City, NJ
|5. Austin, TX
|95. Long Beach, CA
|6. Colorado Springs, CO
|96. Baltimore, MD
|7. Virginia Beach, VA
|97. Memphis, TN
|8. Scottsdale, AZ
|98. Baton Rouge, LA
|9. Gilbert, AZ
|99. Newark, NJ
|10. Minneapolis, MN
|100. Detroit, MI
To view the full report and your city’s rank, please visit here.
Here are some key highlights from the survey:
Military Money Survey & Best Military Credit Card
- 75% of Americans agree that military families experience more financial stress than the average family.
- Nearly 1 in 2 people think that poor financial literacy among military personnel is a threat to national security, 40% more than in 2019.
- 74% of Americans don’t think that the military does enough to teach financial literacy.
- 78% of military members don’t think they should have to pay interest on debt when deployed to a war zone.
- 46% of people think frontline healthcare workers should be paid more than members of the military and police officers.
- PenFed Power Cash Rewards is the best military credit card of 2020. It gives 2% cashback on all purchases to current and former members of the military (1.5% otherwise) and has a $100 initial bonus. There is no annual fee.
To view the full survey, please visit here.
Good Cities vs. Bad Cities
Curious about what makes a city good or bad for veterans?
“How good or bad a city is for veterans depends on factors like the rates of homelessness, unemployment, and poverty for veterans, as well as the city’s retirement-friendliness and the quality of its VA facilities. To be clear, all cities should be quick to take care of veterans’ needs, considering all of the sacrifices they have had to make to serve the country and keep it safe.
“But some cities spend sufficient money on veterans affairs while others do not, whether because they lack the funds to do so or because veterans receive a lower priority in the budget,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst in the news release. “While cities do have a responsibility to their veterans, we also need to look critically at the federal government. We spend a vast amount of money on military operations and national defense, yet comparatively little on helping veterans once their service is done. We have tens of thousands of homeless veterans, and that number should be reduced to zero.”
In terms of reducing the financial stress on military families, Gonzalez added, “We can reduce the financial stress on military families by making sure that anyone in a war zone does not have to even think about their family’s basic living expenses while they’re fighting for our country or if something happens to them when doing so. We can also do a much better job of educating members of the military community on the best practices for financial planning.
“Military families can undergo an incredible amount of financial stress, especially when one parent is on the front lines and cannot help with managing the family’s finances. Service members who are inactive conflicts put their lives at risk, which could place even more of a financial burden on their family if they die or become disabled. The least we can do for our military families is to make sure their basic needs are taken care of.”
Teaching Financial Literacy to Military
“The military does not do enough to promote financial literacy among service members. Not only do 74% of Americans agree that the military is lacking when it comes to financial literacy education, according to WalletHub’s 2020 Military Money Survey, but nearly 1 in 2 people think it’s a national security issue. Financially literate people who serve in the military can worry less about money problems and focus more on their duties, and are also less susceptible to coercion by foreign powers,” Gonzalez said in the same news release.
“But it’s important to remember that the military is not alone in its financial literacy deficiency. Most employers and big organizations in the U.S. fail to provide adequate information as well. Even schools don’t give students enough financial education.”
Impact of COVID-19 on Veterans
Veterans like most are impacted by COVID-19 in various ways Gonzalez added.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a big spike in veteran unemployment, which was at 5.9% in October, compared to the nearly historic low of 3.2% seen in 2019. The pandemic is certain to increase homelessness among veterans, adding to the more than 37,000 veterans who were already homeless before it even started. Millions of veterans are over age 65, too, and 8 of 10 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have been among people in that age group.”