A new ranking reveals California is in the bottom five worst states for veterans – based on access to support, employment opportunities, and state expenditures. Veterans nationwide are struggling with mental wellbeing, as data reveals one in three patients are diagnosed with at least one mental health disorder.
Despite having one of the highest total veteran populations in the US, Texas ranks surprisingly low for veteran resources and services. Lewis Jassey, DO, Medical Director at Leafwell, outlines the benefits medical marijuana can provide for veterans struggling with PTSD.
A new study has revealed California is one of the five worst states for veterans based on factors like population, financial and housing support, employment opportunities, and state expenditure.
The ranking, created by medical marijuana card experts at Leafwell, reveals the best and worst states for veterans, with the best states scoring high on a scale out of ten. The ranking considered factors such as disability compensation, availability of nursing homes, employment rates, state spending, and veteran population density.
For veterans who are looking for the best place to settle after serving, there are many factors to consider, especially for those struggling with their physical or mental wellbeing.
Mental health challenges are particularly prevalent among US veterans, with medical records revealing that one in three veterans (33%) are diagnosed with at least one mental health disorder, according to the United States Government’s National Library of Medicine.
To discover where offers the most support to struggling veterans, the ranking analyzed Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data to establish which state has the highest proportion of veteran workers and state expenditure data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
This reveals state expenditure on vocational rehabilitation, education, and medical care, to identify where veteran care is invested. Finally, the ranking analyzed nursing home availability, scaled by population, to measure veterans’ access to retirement support.
The ranking revealed California is the fourth worst state for veterans, with a score of 1.5 out of 10. The state had the fourth lowest density of veterans within their population, with just 3,921 veterans per 100K. This is 33% less than the national average of 5871 veterans, meaning they have a much smaller veteran population compared to other states, once scaled to their large population.
The state that was named the worst for veterans was New York, with a score of 0.7 out of 10. The state scored shockingly low across the board, ranking in the bottom ten for every metric.
New Jersey came in second to last place with a low score of 1.1 out of 10. The state had the lowest scores across three of the metrics – disability compensation, veteran population, and state expenditure indicating there are some improvements that could be made to support their veterans better.
Illinois is the third worst state for veterans, with a score of 1.4 out of 10. Illinois scored as the third worst state for veteran disability compensation, with just 895 people per 100K receiving compensation – 46%, nearly half, less than the national average.
Massachusetts ranked as the fifth worst state for veterans, with a score of 1.7 out of 10. The state had the fifth lowest density of veterans within its population, with just 4,167 veterans per 100K. This is 29% less than the national average of 5871 veterans, meaning they have a much smaller veteran population compared to other states, once scaled to their large population.
The worst five states for veterans ranked
On the other end of the scale, Alaska ranked as the best state for veterans, with an overall suitability score of 8 out of 10. The state ranked the highest for veteran population density, reporting 8,836 veterans per 100k residents – 51% higher than the national average.
This is beneficial as it ensures veterans can socialize with people of a similar background, providing a greater opportunity for peer support. It also increases the likelihood of the state investing in veteran care, as there’s a greater proportional demand for it.
Surprisingly, Texas ranked low for veteran suitability (38th out of the 50 states) despite having the second-highest number of veterans per state. This is because when scaled against their population, they don’t score as well for job opportunities or expenditure.
Texas scored in the bottom ten (9th) for the availability of veteran nursing homes per 100k residents. While they have more veteran-targeted nursing homes than any other area at 8, these don’t go too far when scaled against the state’s huge population.
Overall, Texas scored highly across all the metrics before scaling the data to their population, indicating they are focused on supporting their veterans but would benefit from increasing resources to match their incredibly large population and rank higher than other states.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the most generous state for expenditure on medical care was Wyoming, spending $70,986 per 100k, 94% higher than the national average of $36,533, indicating the state prioritizes healthcare funding for its veterans.
But this funding only goes so far, particularly when it comes to complex conditions like PTSD, which are difficult to manage. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports that 2 in 10 (23%) veterans using VA Health Care have experienced PTSD at some point in their lives.
Speaking on the findings, Lewis Jassey, DO, Medical Director at Leafwell, says: “Deciding where to retire can be a difficult decision for veterans, as they rely heavily on support. And while access to things like a medical marijuana card provides relief in managing PTSD, some states make it harder to receive this support than others, meaning improvements need to be made.
“PTSD has long been a pressing concern for veterans, and while research suggests that certain cannabis products, particularly those high in CBD, may help alleviate PTSD symptoms such as anxiety, flashbacks, irritability, and nightmares, support is still needed. The hope is that the states that perform poorly in the index reevaluate their provisions and adjust accordingly.”
Data was gathered from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Senior Veterans Service Alliance, the World Population Review, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Library of Medicine and the United States Census Bureau.
Veteran Population: Measured the number of veterans per 100K residents in each state
Disability Compensation: Measured the total number of veterans receiving disability compensation in each state, scaled per 100K
Veteran Nursing Homes: Measured the number of veteran nursing homes in each state, per 100K
Veterans in the Workforce: Measured the proportion of the unemployed population and employed population that are veterans per state, scaled per 100K
State Expenditure on Veterans: Measured state expenditure on education, vocational rehabilitation, employment and medical care, scaled to 100K
Full state ranking
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