Veterans fare well in Virginia, statistics and studies show



(The Center Square) — Recent studies show that Virginia’s veteran population enjoys more benefits and economic success than most states.

As Virginia has the second-largest active duty military population in the country and veterans comprise 9.2% of its population (more than any other state besides Alaska and Wyoming), legislators consistently pass legislation to benefit the veteran community – making the commonwealth an ever-richer environment for retired military, especially disabled veterans.

Tax exemptions for veterans continue to grow in Virginia. A 100% disabled veteran does not have to pay property taxes in the commonwealth; that benefit can be passed onto the surviving spouse.

Active duty military earning less than $30,000 may deduct up to $15,000 of their basic pay.

For veterans seeking tax-free military retirement income — they’ll have to go elsewhere. More than half the states don’t tax military retirement income (there are eight states without a state income tax and many that exempt military retirement income), but Virginia does. However, the General Assembly has attempted to improve the commonwealth’s tax benefits and make Virginia a more comfortable place to land for veterans.

Veterans 55 and older could deduct up to $10,000 of military retirement income from their taxable income starting in 2022; that deduction is set to increase by $10,000 every year until it reaches $40,000 in 2025.

Effective Jan. 1, 2024, anyone receiving military retirement income in Virginia will be eligible for the veteran tax deductions, as the General Assembly did away with the current age restrictions in the 2023 state budget.

Veterans, active duty military and their families can also qualify for several educational and employment benefits for which non-military individuals are not eligible in the commonwealth.

For the spouses and children of at least 90% disabled military, there’s the Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program. Spouses and children are eligible for a waiver of eight semesters of all tuition and mandatory fees at any Virginia public college or university. Those whose spouse or parent’s death was caused by military operations are eligible for an additional stipend.

Veterans and families of veterans also receive a slight boost when applying for jobs with the state. If a test is part of the application or hiring process for the position they’re seeking, veterans and their families may be eligible for a 5% bump in their test scores. Disabled veterans can get 10% added to their scores.

Virginia also helps service members and their spouses transition from military to civilian life, providing employment, education and entrepreneurial support services through the Virginia Transition Assistance Program.

A recent financial services company Lendio study reviewed six data points from federally collected data regarding states’ veteran labor markets and entrepreneurial climates. While Virginia, Oregon and Wyoming were among the top five states, it should be noted that these states were missing statistics on veteran business ownership, so their scores were calculated across the remaining five metrics.

Virginia’s score was “driven by strong earnings and employment,” according to the study, with 58.7% of its veteran population employed and veterans’ average earnings 1.6 times higher than non-veterans. Virginia veterans’ median income was $68,124 in 2022, compared with $41,429 among non-veterans.

Virginia’s neighbors also appeared to be economically veteran-friendly. West Virginia placed fourth among the states, with veterans owning 7.3% of the state’s businesses, and Maryland placed 10th, with a high level of veteran employment (54.3%) and veterans’ median income being 1.4 times higher than non-veterans’.

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