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If you’re a soon-to-be-Veteran, you’re probably contemplating the biggest question of your life so far: Where on earth do I settle down?

That’s right: “settle.” This term has been absent from your vocabulary throughout your military career but has now suddenly become your impending reality. You must choose wisely.

Luckily for you, our team of SAVI Veterans, milspouses, and researchers has some wisdom to share on the top 10 cities you should consider for your “Expiration Term of Service.” This list looks at the best places for new Veterans to start a new career, go back to school, or launch a business — all while fitting in seamlessly with the Veteran-friendly community.

1. Fayetteville, N.C.

There’s no question that Fayetteville is home to the nation’s largest military population, with more than 50,000 soldiers stationed there. Since three military installations — Fort Bragg, Pope Air Force Base, and Camp Lejeune — are either in or around town, Fayetteville offers tailored services and perks for Veterans everywhere you turn.

It’s also a town of educational opportunity, with three college options: Fayetteville Technical Community College, Fayetteville State University, and Methodist University. Fayetteville offers promising career options as well, with jobs in major industries including educational services, healthcare, public administration, recreation, and food services. If you’re looking for the smoothest of sailing into your post-military days, Fayetteville is number one for a reason.

2. Colorado Springs, Colo.

Holy scenery! Colorado Springs has eye-catching views in all directions and is home to some of the best hiking, geological features, and natural landmarks in the country. Boasting several military bases — including Fort Carson, Peterson Air Force Base, and Schriever Air Force Base — and offering tons of high-tech Veteran careers, the sprawling city proves it’s more than just a pretty face.

In addition to job opportunities, “The Springs” also offers several options by way of higher education, including Colorado College, University of Colorado Colorado Springs, and Pikes Peak Community College. Fun fact: The United States Olympic Committee is headquartered here, as well as one of the Olympic Training Centers.

3. San Angelo, Texas

When it comes to job security, you just can’t beat San Angelo, Texas, which Forbes Magazine calls one of the “best places for businesses and careers.” Between Goodfellow Air Force Base — which averages a weekday population of 6,500 – a strong telecommunications presence, two major healthcare centers, and the renowned Angelo State University, this Texas town is bursting with opportunity for Veterans. Plus, the historic sites and artillery on display at Fort Concho, an 1860s Army post, flow into a restored downtown area and a lush walking trails that seamlessly bridge the gap between past and present.

4. Carlisle, Pa.

With relaxation spots as diverse as wineries, golf courses, art galleries, and everything imaginable outdoors, Carlisle’s got it. Its beautiful forests and mountains create a picturesque backdrop for this retirement spot that is also home to the U.S. Army War College and one of the top liberal arts schools in the country, Dickinson College.

Forbes has also ranked this Pennsylvania town as one of the cheapest cities to live in and the second-best place in the nation to raise a family. Employment opportunities include industries in education, military, government, and retail. Another tidbit worth noting: The state of Pennsylvania doesn’t tax federal pensions. Happy retirement, yinz!

5. Madison, Wis.

Want the best of all seasons? Move to Madison, where all your ice fishing, snowmobiling, swimming, and hiking dreams come true. Even Money Magazine took notice of this Wisconsin town’s overflowing amenities when it named Madison one of America’s best small cities in 2008.

The town is bursting with healthcare, agriculture, and advanced manufacturing careers and also offers highly ranked educational options, including the University of Wisconsin. Though its closest military installation, Fort McCoy, is more than an hour’s drive away, the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital is conveniently located in Madison.

6. Topeka, Kan.

Like Dorothy after her own whirlwind journey, you may think you’re not in Kansas anymore! Well, you might actually be if you move to Topeka, where job growth, education services, and a high quality of life abound! This thriving city in northeast Kansas boasts renowned school systems, including Washburn University, home to one of the top 20 law schools in the United States. In addition to the Topeka VA Medical Center, Topeka also has two main hospitals — Stormont Vail Health and St. Francis Health – making it a major hub for those entering the healthcare industry after the military.

7. Syracuse, N.Y.

If you’re thinking about going back to school, Syracuse just might be the city for you. With 11 colleges — including Syracuse University, Le Moyne University, and Onondaga Community College — in or near town, Syracuse has more than enough options to suit your educational dreams.

If Syracuse’s schools, 40-plus golf courses, and year-round professional opera company don’t convince you of this city’s many attractions, maybe its access to Veteran services will. “The ‘Cuse” offers a local VA medical center, a short drive to military installation Fort Drum, and a zero tax policy for federal pensions.

8. Kenner, La.

What couldn’t we say about Kenner!? It’s got as many amenities and attractions as there are stars in the sky, including the nearby port mecca of New Orleans, NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility, views of the Mississippi River, and the New Orleans Naval Air Station (for all your commissary needs). Tulane University, recognized as a top university throughout the world, is also located in Kenner, along with career options in major industries such as tourism, entertainment, healthcare, and government. If we were allowed to choose favorites at SAVI, Kenner would be a winner!

9. Tucson, Ariz.

Tucson is a military meeting place in the desert. Surrounded by four major bases — Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Fort Huachuca (Army), Luke Air Force Base, and training center Camp Navajo — there’s no shortage of a military-friendly atmosphere here. It also sports views of five mountain ranges, meaning its outdoor and scenic game are on point. For employment, manufacturing and industry lead the pack in this Wildcat town, which is home to the University of Arizona.

10. Cheyenne, Wyo.

Often overlooked, Wyoming is a flyover state that people don’t often think of as a “settling down” destination. But we think it should be added to your radar. And here’s why: Cheyenne is just 1.5 hours from Denver, sits in the northern part of the Rocky Mountains, and offers a low cost of living with ZERO state income tax. Plus, Veterans enjoy a close proximity to Francis E. Warren Air Force Base for any military-related services, as well as access to educational opportunities at the University of Wyoming and Laramie County Community College. Career growth is also strong here in the Union Pacific Railroad city, with options such as manufacturing, tourism, mining, agriculture, and transportation. Don’t just fly over it — come and stay awhile in the Frontier City.

Looking for more resources to make the most out of your transition into civilian life? Check out SAVI’s free offerings here, or contact to learn more.


Transitioning into higher education after years of military service can seem overwhelming. But SAVI’s Education Track is designed specifically to support Veterans like you from start to finish — academic advising, walkthroughs of your VA education benefits … and everything in between. 

All transitioning Veterans in SAVI’s programs gain access to our carefully developed tools for post-military students, including the SAVI Student Transition Incubator℠, Student Track Transition Program℠, and Student Benefit Assessment Service℠, as well as our personalized career path determination assistance. Each of these services is vital to a whole life approach to the military-to-civilian transition. 


Continuing on your professional journey after military service can be an amazing opportunity to find a new career that fulfills you and lets you thrive. Yet civilian workplace etiquette and the hiring process can be much different than what you’re used to as a service-member. The job search and performance evaluation processes are much more employee-driven, for example, and the workplace can be more isolating without the shared objective of high-stakes national defense.

SAVI’s Employment Track delivers start-to-finish support to help Veterans navigate a new career. From skills assessments to professional networking strategies, SAVI offers custom-built tools — including the SAVI Employment Transition Incubator℠, Job Networking & Search Service℠, and Employment Benefit Assessment Service℠ — as well as job retention and mentoring services to help you every step of the way. Each of these services is vital to a whole life approach to military-to-civilian transition.


Chasing your dream of self-employment can seem daunting after years of a highly structured military life. But SAVI provides the resources to help you turn this dream into a fulfilling reality — and so that you don’t have to go it alone.

All transitioning Veterans on this track receive our comprehensive tools for personal business success: the SAVI Entrepreneur Transition Incubator℠ and Entrepreneur Benefit Assessment Service℠, as well as our opportunity consulting and our funding exploration  support. Each of these services is vital to a whole life approach to the military-to-civilian transition.


After serving your time in the military, it’s time to look forward toward your retirement. SAVI is here every step of the way to help you transition from service-member to thriving retiree. We’re here to ensure you don’t have to muddle through the financial, personal, and emotional aspects of retirement on your own.

All transitioning Veterans on this track receive comprehensive tools for a successful retirement: the SAVI Retirement Transition Incubator℠ and Retirement Benefit Assessment Service℠, as well as our one-on-one ongoing assistance and assessment services. Each of these services is vital to a whole life approach to the military-to-civilian transition.

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Getting Connected with Your Local Veterans Organizations

If you’re a military Veteran, then you’re a part of a very niche group. Active military personnel make up less than 1 percent of the total U.S. population today, so it’s not surprising that so many Veterans feel isolated as they start their transitions into civilian life.

Yet this issue isn’t a new one. Since 1899, organizations like the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and The American Legion were created to offer Veterans a place for camaraderie, to feel empowered, and to help boost troop morale for those still in the service.

Fast-forward to today and Veterans groups have emerged in nearly every community in the country and boast a wide variety of scope and missions — such as the career program by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and the suicide prevention work by The Military Veteran Project. The benefits to getting involved with one of these local groups include much more than just gaining buddies to swap war-stories with. Veterans can also get assistance with job placements, career counseling, emotional support, and finding resources for disabled Vets.

Not sure where to begin to find your local Veteran connections? Here’s a list of a few national Veteran groups with various local chapters across the nation.

The American Legion ​
Disabled American Veterans
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
Korean War Veterans Association
The Military Veteran Project
Paralyzed Veterans of America
Veterans of Foreign Wars
• Student Veterans of America
• Vietnam Veterans of America

For a more comprehensive list of military charities, organizations, and government contacts, click here.

Get Squared Away: A Comprehensive Checklist for Transitioning Service-Members

18 Months Before Your Discharge
• Review GI Bill and tuition assistance benefits
• Review GI Bill transferability requirements (Transferring your benefits may require re-enlisting or incurring an additional service obligation.)
• Use the DoD Online Academic Skills course to prepare for the SAT, ACT, GRE, or GMAT Exams
• Take a skills/interest assessment through your local ESO or career counselor
• Consider taking CLEP exams to complete your general education requirements
• Reach out to your SAVI mentor for tips from someone who has lived through the transition experience -Start developing your personal and professional networks
• Review your post-separation budget, and start planning for your financial transition
• Register on LinkedIn to get ready for networking opportunities
• Research the job potential, affordability, and community where you plan to live

12 Months Before Your Discharge
• Start developing an Individual Transition Plan
• Review your Pre-Separation Checklist (DD 2648)
• Get your Verification of Military Experience and Training (VMET) document (DD 2586)
• Research the cost of living where you plan to live as a civilian-Learn about your VA home benefits -Make an appointment with your local Transition Counselor
• Attend a Transition GPS five-day workshop -Check job boards, and start exploring the right career options for you
• Start exploring the right degree and college for you -Request “house hunting orders”
• Enroll in a SAVI Transition Incubator℠
• Use a skills translator to begin developing a civilian resume

9 Months Before Your Discharge
• Continue building your networks through LinkedIn and elsewhere
• Consider an employment assistance program
• Start writing your resume
• Search for jobs in your field and area to see what’s out there
• Arrange for HHG transportation counseling -Research your healthcare options, including Employer-Provided Civilian Care, CHCBP, Transitional Health Care Benefits, and CHAMP
• Make a budget, and prepare to pay for health insurance coverage

6 Months Before Your Discharge
• Start applying for jobs -Start building a wardrobe for the civilian workplace
• Continue to expand your career networks
• Attend career fairs
• Review and update your will and financial documents
• Consider whether to take terminal leave or sell back your balance
• Schedule appointments for household goods (HHG) shipment and storage
• Schedule final medical checkups for all family members
• Visit the Legal Assistance Office for help updating your documents
• Determine if you’re eligible for separation pay or early retirement
•Begin your PCS and housing checkout procedures -Begin looking for VSOs to join

3 Months Before Your Discharge
• Consider job placement services
• Use the VA Pre-discharge program to determine your eligibility for VA Disability Compensation
• Review your finances to ensure your budget will work in civilian life
• Compare SGLI to VGLI and other life insurance options
• Get to know more about where you plan to live
• Contact your Military Treatment Facility, and get copies of all of your health records
• Complete a physical with your MTF or a VA Medical Center
• Take advantage of the two-day TAP GPS program for education and entrepreneurship support

1 Month Before Your Discharge
• Finalize your relocation appointments, and review your benefits
• Arrange for inspection of any government housing
• Choose your transitional healthcare plan

Enrolling in VA Healthcare

1. Make it easier on yourself: Start with support from VA’s Concierge of Care. Enrolling in VA care isn’t as tough a process as it used to be. In October 2017, VA launched its Concierge for Care (C4C) program to enhance its support for transitioning Veterans in getting VA healthcare. The C4C initiative educates and empowers Veterans while simplifying the healthcare application and enrollment process. This means that, shortly after you separate, you’ll get a phone call from a representative who can answer questions, process your VA healthcare enrollment application, and schedule your first VA medical appointment.

2. Get notified of your application status. After your application is submitted, you’ll receive another phone call from VA to let you know whether your enrollment is approved. VA will also send you a Veterans Health Benefits Handbook with information on your healthcare benefits, Enrollment Priority Group, copay status, and other information you’ll need as a new enrollee. Handbooks also include information for appealing a decision if your initial application is rejected.

3. Get your Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC). Only Veterans enrolled in the VA healthcare system can receive a VHIC. Once your application is verified, contact the enrollment coordinator at your local VA medical center to arrange to get your picture taken for the your card either in advance or at your next VA healthcare appointment.

4. Keep your information current after you enroll. Enrolled Veterans can update your personal information (such as income, address, and insurance information) by completing VA Form 10-10EZR online, by visiting a local VA facility, or by calling 1-877-222-VETS between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday.

Project You: Top Self-Development Courses to Take

Create a Perfect Morning Routine
You will learn how to create a morning routine filled with purpose, presence, and peace. You’ll be more energized, productive, and content — all before the start of your workday. Start your morning by doing things that feed your soul and make you happy.

Finding Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
If you’ve been searching for your true purpose in life, Eckhart Tolle has some straightforward advice: Stop struggling. This is because the primary purpose of every human being is simply to be: Be fully engaged in this moment, and be aligned with the natural flow of reality itself.

Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential
This course is designed to show you how to look at what you’re learning, and your place in what’s unfolding in the society around you, so that you can be what you want to be. You’ll see that by using certain mental tools and insights, you can learn and do more than you might have ever dreamed.

Achieving Personal and Professional Success
You'll learn how to find your passion and core values, how to apply these values to your own life, how to work well with others, how to communicate effectively, how to set goals, how to use influence to achieve these goals, and even how to say you are sorry. Through exercises, self-diagnostic surveys, quizzes, and many case studies, you'll discover how to define not only what you want, but also the best way to get it. These courses provide key insights into successful personal practices, whether you are in the office or in your home. We all bring ourselves to work every day, and these courses will help you be your best self wherever you are.

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