It’s normal for active duty service members to be apprehensive about discharge day and what comes next, especially those who enlisted young and now find themselves thinking about things like buying a home, finding a new job and even building a family. However, before they can begin to settle in to civilian life, most need to decide where they want to live. Fortunately, many resources exist to help soon-to-be and newly discharged veterans choose the best place to relocate and begin their transition.

A quick internet search can help you locate the top veteran-friendly cities.

Military Times routinely compiles a list of the best places to live for veterans based on factors such as employment opportunities, cost of living and school quality. Released in September of this year, their “Best for Vets: Places to Live 2019” list breaks down their recommendations into small, medium and large cities. Not surprisingly, it includes several locations in Virginia. You can check out the complete list here.

In November, USA Today featured a story about the “Best Cities After Service” list based on rankings released by Navy Federal Credit Union and Sperling’s Best Places. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; the Omaha-Council Bluffs metro area in Nebraska and Iowa; Colorado Springs, Colorado; the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria metro area; and the Grand Forks metro area in North Dakota and Minnesota occupy the top five spots on the list, which took into account factors that contribute to overall quality of life for veterans. You can read more about it here

Personal finance website WalletHub also offers a “25 Best Places for Veterans to Live” list, which compares the 100 largest cities in the United States and ranks them based on 17 key factors such as housing availability, employment, veteran income rates, opportunities for education, family-friendliness and access to quality health care. Find out more about their findings and methodology here.

Looking for a great home loan? Start at the Department of Veterans Affairs

VA home loans are among the most competitive loans available and allow veterans to avoid many of the typical obstacles of home buying. Different from conventional loans, VA loans are provided by private lenders (such as banks and mortgage companies) but insured by the U.S. government to help level the playing field for veterans looking to buy or build a new home or make repairs to an existing home. No down payment and highly competitive interest rates are among the top benefits of VA home loans.

Visit to learn more about VA home loans and housing-related assistance, including how to determine eligibility and begin the application process.

Talk to veterans who have already transitioned.

Most service members have friends or family members who have already transitioned out of the military and may be able to offer valuable advice about navigating life after discharge. Likewise, local veteran groups are a great place to find and talk to veterans who can offer tips on making a successful transition to civilian life.

It is also important for active duty service members to take advantage of pre-discharge programs such as the Transition Assistance Program, or TAP, which helps them develop an individual transition plan and ensures they meet the required career-readiness standards prior to separation. TAP consists of a series of modules designed to help newly discharged veterans find employment, continue their education, buy a home and achieve similar goals.

Before you leave, make sure you have a copy of your DD214 in hand.

The days and weeks leading up to discharge day will no doubt be filled with activity and a seemingly endless stream of paperwork. Somewhere in there, you should receive a copy of your DD214, also called a Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. This is an important document because it shows proof of your military service and honorable discharge—and it is the form most often requested when applying for veteran-specific services and benefits.

Veteran-owned DD214Direct helps you get the documents you need, when you need them.

Our cutting-edge technology platform and keen knowledge of government protocol and procedure allow us to deliver your documents faster than competitors. We physically stand in line at the records repository and manually coordinate your order, freeing up your time and easing your worries about whether or not you will get your DD214. Much like paying a small fee to have your taxes done by a professional, DD214Direct provides the service and convenience you’ve been hoping for, plus we make it a lot easier.

Instead of having to download, print, sign and fax your document request form, you can submit your order directly through our website with the ease of e-signature technology from a desktop, laptop or mobile device. Once we locate your DD214, we will email you a copy immediately—a service not offered by the government. And tracking your request through us is simple, so you never have to worry about long hold times and inconclusive answers.

Ready to get started? Click here to begin the order process.