A new study on the best places for military veterans was released Thursday, and the findings are surprisingly, well, centered.
The center of the country, that is.
That's because, of the 10 cities ranked best for transitioning troops and veterans, eight of them are in the middle of the U.S. map, according to the rankings released Thursday by Navy Federal.
According to that list, the top 10 cities are: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Omaha, Nebraska; Colorado Springs, Colorado; the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Area; Grand Forks, North Dakota; Austin, Texas; San Antonio, Texas; Charlottesville, Virginia; Rapid City, South Dakota; and Manhattan, Kansas.
Middle America is, apparently, great for veterans.
The rankings were made by looking at 11 metrics of veteran success and wellness, such as income data, unemployment rate, and quality of the local Department of Veterans Affairs hospital. That data were then paired with general quality-of-life measures, like poverty rates, environment, economy, schools and crime.
Finally, data on those issues were pulled from 401 U.S. metropolitan areas and ranked top to bottom.
The result? A list that could help veterans or transitioning troops figure out where they want to call home after service.
If none of the top 10 cities sounds good, places that ranked 11 to 20 might work instead. Those were: Columbia, South Carolina; Honolulu, Hawaii; Charleston and North Charleston, South Carolina; Burlington and South Burlington, Vermont; Iowa City, Iowa; Portland and South Portland, Maine; Dayton, Ohio; Rockingham County and Strafford County, New Hampshire; Dubuque, Iowa; and Abilene, Texas.
Of course, ranking well in a study doesn't mean any city is going to be just right for you. Other factors such as family, job prospects and climate preferences will likely come into play. But the list could help broaden your options to places you may not have before considered, said demographic expert Bert Sperling, founder and chief executive officer of Sperling's BestPlaces.
"No one should ever make an important decision like this based on some published list, which may not consider your particular needs and wishes," he told Military.com in an email. "But these 'Best Places' rankings are a great starting place for your new home search because they probably list several places that are new to you."
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-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.