Virginia is the proud home of more than 780,000 veterans who bravely served our nation and another 89,000 active duty service members whom we want to settle here and remain in the Commonwealth. Virginia cherishes its rich history with our military. Unfortunately, we also have an unfortunate but correctable flaw that we share with only a few other states â taxing our military veterans.
We join California and Vermont as the only states that fully tax military pensions. This is unacceptable. As Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Defense Affairs, I share Governor Glenn Youngkin’s vision to make Virginia the best place for our military heroes to pursue the next chapter of their lives. Unfortunately, a large proportion of current active duty members will leave the Commonwealth for a state that allows them to keep more money in their pocket.
Virginia is already a high-cost state, and current gas prices and record inflation rates only add to that equation, making it harder for military veterans to retire here. Veteran families, now more than ever, need to do more to stretch their budgets. Although we did not serve for the money, but rather out of a sense of duty to the country, every veteran should be able to take care of their family and meet their basic needs.
The Governor and I will work every day to support and serve our veterans with the goal of making Virginia the best place for military service members and their families to pursue the next chapter of their lives. This means working every day to eliminate the bureaucratic red tape that prevents our veterans from successfully migrating to opportunities in law enforcement, education, and health care careers; expedite and waive administrative fees for permits and small business start-up applications for eligible veterans; and reducing barriers to entrepreneurship, allowing more veterans to enter the market. We’re also reimagining how the Commonwealth delivers the benefits it’s earned by increasing the number of Veteran Service Officers.
As a veteran, I understand the importance of caring for those who have dedicated their lives to defending our freedom. I understand firsthand how a veteran’s skills and experience can translate into civilian life. I know how essential veterans are to reinvigorating the economic situation of our republic. That’s why Youngkin’s commitment to ensuring Virginia competes with neighboring states on veterans benefits and tax treatment is a keystone of his budget priority. Last year, our neighbor, North Carolina, passed a law not to tax military pensions.
The governor recalled the General Assembly for a special session last week. There is unfinished business that transcends politics and partisanship on behalf of our veterans.
During the special session, the governor reminds all lawmakers and all Virginians what’s at stake. Lawmakers can help achieve something that’s long overdue: eliminating the tax on the first $40,000 military retirement. This means our Armed Forces retirees will see a larger refund when they file their state taxes, which will facilitate a smooth transition from military service to the civilian community and a better quality of life for Virginia veterans. .
Together, we warn all governors, Virginia will become the number one state for military investment. Raising our competitive profile to a whole new level, we will go from the third highest state in the country with military retirees to the first. We will build on the mutually strong military partnership in and around the Commonwealth which is made up of more than 30 major facilities, including the Pentagon, the world’s largest naval station, Air Combat Command, Marine Corps Headquarters , the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, and Coast Guard Atlantic Command, which includes the largest concentration of Coast Guard forces in the nation.
Veterans have kept our Commonwealth and our nation safe. Now, the message from the Youngkin administration is simple: When you return safely to our shores and eventually retire, we want you to retire here in Virginia. I promise to advocate for your concerns, connect you to resources, provide you with the care you need, and reduce barriers to further employment and educational opportunities for you and your families. We will not stop working to make Virginia the best place to stay, work and retire for our veterans.
Retired from the United States Marine Corps Major General Craig Crenshaw is the Commonwealth Secretary for Veterans and Defense Affairs.