Military Times evaluated each location's veteran and military culture and services, economic indicators — both vet-specific and not — and livability factors, such as crime, traffic and school quality. The three categories were of comparable value, but veteran culture and services were worth the most in our evaluation, and the livability measures were worth the least. Including all data points measured, a little more than half were specific to veterans or the military, while the rest were derived from and applicable to the larger population.
Population, median home price, median rent, median income, unemployment and commute time estimates came from 2013 Census surveys, the most recent available information. Military installation information came from the Defense Department's 2013 Demographics Profile of the Military Community, the most recent such report available. VA health and benefits facilities information came from the Veterans Affairs Department website. Crime report data came from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reporting data for 2013, also the most recent available information.
Ratings from GreatSchools measured area schools collectively on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best.
We also relied on information from the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research at the University of Michigan, the Missouri Census Data Center and all six of our other Best for Vets rankings.
All distance-based calculations are approximate. Several measures not included in the published charts, from the same data sources, also were considered.
In the Best for Vets organizations column, letters in gold coins signify which of the most recent Best for Vets rankings listed groups located within 50 miles. Franchises were included if they indicated that they have franchising opportunities in the state. The coins represent the following surveys:
C Best for Vets: Colleges 2015
T Best for Vets: Career & Technical Colleges 2015
B Best for Vets: Business Schools 2015
E Best for Vets: Employers 2015
F Best for Vets: Franchises 2014-15
L Best for Vets: Law Enforcement 2015