Report: Pennsylvania spends among the least on veterans


(The Center Square) – Pennsylvania ranks among the worst in the nation when it comes to spending on veterans’ services, according to a recent analysis.

The commonwealth fared 42 out of 50, according to data compiled from U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Government’s National Library of Medicine. Metrics measured were total state expenditure on veterans’ medical care, disability compensation, nursing home availability, employment rates, vocational and rehabilitation training programs, and veteran population density.

The spending, analyzed by Leafwell – a Texas-based company that helps prospective patients access medical marijuana – shows that 1,071 per 100,000 Pennsylvania residents receive disability compensation, or about 35% below the national average.

New Jersey and New York ranked 49 and 50, respectively. Alaska, West Virginia, Wyoming, Hawaii, and Virginia were the five best.

Leafwell says veterans looking for the best place to live after serving should consider these factors, making Pennsylvania an unattractive choice.

State Rep. Jared Solomon, D-Philadelphia, said he’s not studied the ranking in detail, but agrees Pennsylvania can and should do more for its veterans.

“We have to be doing everything possible for the men and women who wear the cloth of this nation, and that takes many forms,” he told The Center Square. “It also means, of course, when those uniforms are taken off … we need to surround them with the benefits they deserve by protecting our freedoms.”

Solomon chairs the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee and says lawmakers want to take a holistic approach to the issue – from expanding tax exemptions for low-income veterans to upping the disability allowance for blind or amputee veterans to improving housing conditions.

“It’s really got to be a whole series of legislative proposals,” he said.

And, Solomon added, the state isn’t alone in its efforts. It must work harmoniously with federal programs.

“I think we need to do better,” he said. “We are about rowing in the same direction when it comes to veterans. We need to make sure to check any type of discussion about politics at the door and serve our vets.”

“My hope is that … this begins a conversation in the House and Senate to do that work because I think we are all dedicated to making sure we are taking care of our veterans in Pennsylvania.”

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