The U.S. government operates two retirement homes for certain military veterans: the Armed Forces Retirement Home Gulfport and the Armed Forces Retirement Home Washington. Retired officers that aren't eligible for the Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH) can retire to special retirement homes for officers.
The Gulfport campus, located in Gulfport, Mississippi, was originally established as the Naval Asylum in 1834, until the name was changed to the Naval Home in 1880. Primarily, its residents were veteran enlisted sailors and marines.
The Soldiers’ Home in Washington, D.C., was established in 1851 as an “asylum for old and disabled veterans.” In 1947, when the Air Force became a separate service, the name was changed to the Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home. Most who lived there were veteran enlisted Army soldiers and enlisted Air Force members.
In addition to the two Armed Forces Retirement Homes, most states have one or more state-operated veterans retirement homes. These are often called “VA Homes.” For more information, contact the appropriate state veterans agency.
Which veterans qualify for the Armed Forces Retirement Home?
Not all military veterans are eligible to reside at the Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH). Eligibility factors include your military rank, military status, age, physical and mental health at the time of admission, and criminal history.
Here are the basics on each qualification:
Military rank: The Armed Forces Retirement Homes are not for commissioned officers. Only those who spent at least 50 percent of their military service as an enlisted member, warrant officer, or what the Navy and Marines call a “limited-duty officer” are eligible.
Military status: Your status as a veteran also plays a role in your eligibility. You can move into an AFRH if you’re a:
Veteran with 20 years or more of active-duty service and at least 60 years old
Veteran unable to earn a livelihood due to a service-connected disability
Veteran unable to earn a livelihood due to injuries, disease, or disability, and who served in a war theater or received hostile-fire pay
Female veteran who served prior to 1948
Staying fit for admission: At the time of admission, you need to be capable of self-care. That means
Full mental competency (in other words, able to make rational decisions)
Able to take care of your own personal needs
Able to attend a central dining facility for meals
Able to keep all medical appointments
An ability to speak, hear, and see (with or without aids) to perform basic functions
The ability to care for your own room (for example, make the bed and clean the bathroom, floors, and windows)
Freedom from alcoholism, drug addictions, or mental disorders
If you have a history of excessive alcohol or drug use, you’ll have to prove you’ve been sober for at least one continuous year. The sobriety must be documented in the form of three letters from rehab professionals, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) staff, or medical personnel (not from friends or neighbors).
These letters must indicate that your treatment was successful and you are maintaining sobriety. Even so, such documentation doesn’t guarantee your acceptance at the AFRH. The admission staff decides on a case-by-case basis.
If you qualify and are interested in residing at the AFRH, make your decision early. Don’t wait until it’s too late. If you wait until you develop a serious illness or are unable to take care of yourself, it’s too late to apply to live at the AFRH. If you require increased healthcare after you become a resident, assisted-living and long-term care are available at the campus.
You need some kind of medical insurance to live at the AFRH, be it Medicare, Tricare (military healthcare), or a commercial insurance program.
Married couples: Married couples are welcome at the AFRH, but both must be eligible in their own right.
Criminal history: If you’ve been convicted of a felony, whether by civilian or military court, at any time in your life, you’re not eligible to reside at the AFRH. A felony is defined as any state, federal, or military offense in which the maximum permissible punishment exceeds one year in prison.
Where can a veteran officer retire?
Those who have spent more than 50 percent of their military careers as an officer aren’t eligible to reside at the Armed Forces Retirement Home. In fact, there are no federally operated military retirement homes for veteran military officers.
However, a few nonprofit agencies offer retirement communities specifically for former officers:
Air Force Village West: This community is located adjacent to March Field in Riverside, California.This nonprofit community accepts career, reserve, or honorably discharged officers, as well as widows or widowers of officers from any service branch.
The Air Force Village: This nonprofit retirement community, located in San Antonio, Texas, accepts retired and honorably separated officers of all uniformed services and their spouses, widows, widowers, and senior family members, age 62 and up.
Falcons Landing: This nonprofit community accepts retired military officers, their spouses, and surviving spouses who haven’t remarried. The retirement home is located in Washington, D.C.
Knollwood: Also located in Washington, D.C., this unique retirement community is for male and female officers and their female relatives. Regular and reserve male and female military officers of all uniformed services, their spouses, sisters, daughters, mothers, and mothers-in-law are eligible for residency.
Vinson Hall: This home is located just three miles from the nation’s capital in McLean, Virginia. Eligibility includes those who have served as a commissioned officer (including warrant officer) in the uniformed services, and the widows, widowers, former spouses, dependents, or immediate family members of such officers.