Special Report

Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater, WA Has One of the Largest Veteran Populations in the Nation

Young Americans enlist in the armed services for many reasons, including the opportunity to gain new skills, get physically fit, and earn financial assistance to pay for college. One of the most common reasons, however, is to serve the country. On top of the more than 1.4 million active-duty service members in the military, the United States is home to over 17.8 million veterans.

The sacrifices veterans have made for the country often follow them long after their service. Nearly half of those who served after the terror attacks of 9/11 say they had an emotionally traumatic or distressing experience while serving, and about one in four of all veterans say readjusting to civilian life was at least somewhat difficult, according to a Pew Research study.

Still, the same study also found that over half of all veterans say their service provided them with useful skills and training for the civilian job market, and that veterans are less likely to live in poverty and more likely to have higher incomes than their non-veteran counterparts.

The Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater metro area, located in Washington, is home to a higher concentration of military veterans than the average across the country. There are an estimated 28,586 civilians living in the metro area with a background of military service, or 13.1% of the local adult population. Nationwide, just 7.1% of the civilian adult population are veterans.

It is important to note that while many veterans chose to enlist out of a sense of patriotic duty, many living veterans did not choose to serve and were drafted into service during the Vietnam War. In Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater, those whose period of service is confined to the Vietnam Era account for 27.3% of the total veteran population. Another 17.7% of veterans in the metro area enlisted after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

All data in this story are five-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey.

 

Rank Metro area Civilian adults who have served (%) Total number of veterans Veterans who enlisted after 9/11 (%) Veterans who served in Vietnam only (%)
1 Hinesville, GA 21.9 11,307 35.5 10.2
2 Jacksonville, NC 21.5 24,005 38.5 13.4
3 Killeen-Temple, TX 21.0 64,366 29.1 14.3
4 Sierra Vista-Douglas, AZ 19.4 18,520 13.3 28.1
5 Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, FL 19.0 39,238 17.1 22.6
6 Clarksville, TN-KY 17.8 36,244 29.5 16.7
7 Lawton, OK 17.6 15,582 22.8 20.3
8 Fayetteville, NC 17.2 60,970 26.7 16.5
9 Colorado Springs, CO 17.0 89,829 22.7 20.0
10 Fairbanks, AK 16.5 11,188 31.8 20.0
11 Bremerton-Silverdale-Port Orchard, WA 16.3 32,540 15.6 26.9
12 Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC 16.0 207,174 21.9 19.6
13 The Villages, FL 15.5 18,647 2.0 48.2
14 Elizabethtown-Fort Knox, KY 15.4 17,235 17.8 23.7
15 Panama City, FL 15.3 21,209 14.3 25.7
16 New Bern, NC 15.2 14,023 17.7 27.6
17 Great Falls, MT 15.1 9,183 23.1 24.3
18 Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL 15.0 56,550 15.3 25.9
19 Warner Robins, GA 14.9 19,920 13.8 22.5
20 Homosassa Springs, FL 14.6 18,362 5.7 42.6
21 Cheyenne, WY 14.4 10,592 17.4 24.7
22 Lake Havasu City-Kingman, AZ 14.3 25,050 6.4 43.1
23 Columbus, GA-AL 13.9 32,239 20.3 23.8
24 Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL 13.8 66,519 9.8 31.0
25 Prescott Valley-Prescott, AZ 13.7 26,676 9.6 42.7
26 California-Lexington Park, MD 13.6 11,411 15.5 20.0
27 Punta Gorda, FL 13.4 21,986 4.8 41.7
28 Watertown-Fort Drum, NY 13.2 9,829 31.4 19.5
29 Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater, WA 13.1 28,586 17.7 27.3
30 Anchorage, AK 12.9 37,357 21.6 24.0
31 Gulfport-Biloxi, MS 12.8 39,680 16.7 26.3
32 Dover, DE 12.8 17,242 14.9 28.0
33 Goldsboro, NC 12.8 11,699 16.0 24.3
34 Manhattan, KS 12.6 11,496 34.5 18.9
35 Rapid City, SD 12.5 13,283 15.4 29.0
36 Ocala, FL 12.3 36,149 6.4 36.9
37 Grants Pass, OR 12.3 8,638 9.5 39.2
38 Jacksonville, FL 12.1 142,111 15.9 24.6
39 Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC 12.0 54,770 18.0 28.1
40 Wichita Falls, TX 11.9 13,256 22.9 25.8
41 Sumter, SC 11.9 12,505 18.3 27.3
42 Hilton Head Island-Bluffton, SC 11.8 20,397 12.4 34.0
43 Sebastian-Vero Beach, FL 11.7 15,362 4.4 37.3
44 Sebring-Avon Park, FL 11.5 10,026 3.1 37.0
45 Longview, WA 11.3 9,468 9.7 38.3
46 Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL 11.2 60,761 10.1 36.3
47 Daphne-Fairhope-Foley, AL 11.2 19,174 10.9 40.6
48 Charleston-North Charleston, SC 11.0 67,058 15.8 26.7
49 Huntsville, AL 11.0 39,804 15.1 24.6
50 Mount Vernon-Anacortes, WA 10.9 10,744 13.6 34.1

 

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