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Virginia vets have fewest Veterans Affairs facilities

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Part 1 of 4 in the series Veterans Affairs
FEW HEALTH FACILITIES: Virginia ranks dead last in the country for the number of Veterans Health facilities to the number of veterans.

FEW HEALTH FACILITIES: Virginia ranks dead last in the country for the number of Veterans Health facilities to the number of veterans.

By Kathryn Watson | Watchdog.org, Virginia Bureau

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — As scandals swirl surrounding the Department of Veteran’ Affairs, a new report finds Virginia ranks dead last in the nation for the number of VA hospitals per 10,000 veterans.

A national study by Wallet Hub on the best and worst states for military retirees, published just in time for Memorial Day, points out that Virginia have the lowest ratio of homeless veterans to total veterans, and ranks third in the country for the most job opportunities for veterans, right behind the District of Columbia and Maryland.

In Virginia, however, which boasts more veterans per 100 residents than any other state, the glaringly low proportion of Veterans Affairs health facilities to residents is a blight to Virginia’s 15th overall ranking. Virginia veterans have just .3 hospitals for every 10,000 veterans.

“Health care really lags behind,” said Odysseas Papadimitriou, CEO of the personal finance site WalletHub.com. “… It seems like there is a disconnect for sure between the number of residents and the kind of access they have to health care.”

Papadimitriou said his company decided to gauge the best and worst states for veterans based on metrics like job availability and health care because deciding where to retire is perhaps the most important personal finance decision a veteran can make.

Wallet Hub dubbed Wyoming the most veteran-friendly state, while California ranks last. Generally, the study found red states are more friendly towards military retirees than blue states.

While it’s still early in his term, Gov. Terry McAuliffe hasn’t announced any major veteran-related projects or policy proposals.

Former Gov. Bob McDonnell took credit for the veteran job figures in his 2014 State of the Commonwealth Address, delivered just before he left office in January.

“We’ve made great progress making Virginia the most veteran-friendly state in the country,” McDonnell said in his prepared remarks. “We expanded the Wall of Honor at the Virginia War Memorial, provided in-state tuition for veterans, and created a job placement program for our veterans. We have shown our love and appreciation for the brave few that protect our way of life.” 

— Kathryn Watson is an investigative reporter for Watchdog.org’s Virginia Bureau, and can be reached at kwatson@watchdog.org, and on Twitter @kathrynw5.

Part of 4 in the series Veterans Affairs

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Kathryn Watson is an investigative reporter for Watchdog.org's Virginia Bureau. Her work has appeared in places like Drudge Report, Washington Examiner, Reason and Human Events, and she has made appearances on Fox News and NBC4. An alumna of the National Journalism Center, Katie is a member of Investigative Reporters Editors. She graduated with a journalism degree and highest honors from Biola University in L.A., where she ran the student newspaper. After college, she reported for a mid-sized newspaper in Santa Barbara, Calif. Her work has earned her "Best in Show" and two first-place awards from the Virginia Press Association.