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Military Veterans

ND ranks high for military retirees

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North Dakota is one of the better states for military retirees, according to a new report.

The website WalletHub ranked North Dakota as the 11th-best state for military retirees in its report, which used economic, quality of life and health care factors to come up with its rankings.

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North Dakota ranked ninth for its economic environment, which considered things such as state taxes on military pensions, the number of veteran-owned businesses and housing costs. The state also ranked 12th for health care and 25th for quality of life.

Emery Fisher, the department commander of the North Dakota Veterans of Foreign Wars, noted that North Dakota provides a property tax exemption for disabled veterans. He had lived here for a few years before leaving for some overseas contracting work, but came back about 13 years ago.

“I would say (quality of life) was the main reason,” he said.

An advantage

Greg Huckabee, an associate professor of business law at the University of South Dakota, said less-populous states may have an advantage in providing services to veterans. WalletHub selected Wyoming as the best state for military retirees, while Montana and South Dakota ranked third and fourth, respectively. New York and California were ranked as the worst states.

“To say North Dakota and South Dakota love their veterans more than Texas or Arkansas is a stretch,” said Huckabee, an army judge advocate for 27 years before retiring in 2003. “I think it comes down to scale, as in most public programs and resources. And I just think per capita, we have more resources here.”

VA health facilities

The report comes as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has come under intense scrutiny for deaths allegedly tied to long wait times for care at a VA medical facility in Arizona, which ranked 48th overall in the report. But Huckabee and Fisher said that doesn’t appear to be a problem in the Dakotas.

“I have not heard a single complaint in the 11 years that I’ve been here,” Huckabee said. South Dakota was second and North Dakota was fourth in terms of the number of VA health facilities per 10,000 veterans, according to WalletHub.

Minnesota was ranked 33rd overall in the study, but has the third-lowest percentage of homeless veterans.

To read the report, go to bit.ly/1maX66p

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