Top communities providing support for returning veterans

(BPT) – When veterans return home from serving overseas, the support found in family, friends and the community can make a huge difference for a smooth transition.

Pittsburgh ranks as the top place in the nation for veterans to transition from combat boots to civilian shoes, according to a study commissioned by USAA and

The “Best Places for Veterans” list identifies U.S. metro areas that offer America’s most recent veterans more opportunities to find a job or go to college while providing a higher quality of life in an affordable location.

Here is the entire top 10 list:

1. Pittsburgh

2. Phoenix

3. Dallas

4. Cleveland

5. Atlanta

6. Warren, Mich.

7. Ann Arbor, Mich.

8. Cincinnati

9. Columbus, Ohio

10. St. Louis

“Today’s veterans are battling a highly competitive job market and need to proactively plan for life after the military,” says Scott Halliwell, certified financial planner at USAA. “This study allows us to help recent and soon-to-be veterans identify preferred locations throughout the U.S. where they can launch a civilian career and use the GI Bill to further their education.”

“The millions of young veterans who have already entered the work force and the many more who will join them in the coming years have the opportunity to use the discipline and determination they’ve acquired in the Armed Forces to make a significant impact in their workplaces and communities,” says Ward Carroll, editor of “Best Places for Veterans was commissioned to help equip this remarkable group with tools for a successful transition.”

USAA, a leading financial services provider focused on serving the military and their families, and, the largest military and veteran membership organization, commissioned Sperling’s BestPlaces to develop the list. Researchers reviewed variables for 379 major U.S. metropolitan areas, including:

* Employment opportunities and sectors that align with military skills sets such as defense, engineering, medical services and aviation, as well as the overall jobs climate based on unemployment rate and recent job growth.

* Presence of colleges/universities, as well as quality of local primary schools.

* General quality of life and pocketbook issues such as affordability, crime rate, taxes and recreation opportunities.

Each of the variables was weighted based on what recent and soon-to-be veterans said was important to them, and each metro area was then ranked based on its total points for all variables. Metro areas with the following attributes were excluded from the list: unemployment rate more than 1 percent above the national average, median cost of living greater than the national average and total crime rate more than 25 percent above the national average.

USAA and also commissioned a list of the top metro areas in each state to provide service members with more choices. Veterans and soon-to-be veterans also have the opportunity to create a personalized list with the new “Best Places for Veterans” calculator by identifying which criteria is most important in their military-to-civilian transition.

To see the entire list of Best Places and access the Best Places for Veterans calculator, visit

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