President Donald J. Trump traveled to Fort Drum in upstate New York this week to sign the National Defense Authorization Act into law. The bill, which was approved by Congress last month, authorizes $717 billion in military spending for fiscal 2019, a more than $80 billion increase from the previous year. The 2019 defense budget will be the largest it has been since the height of the Iraq War in 2011.
While the bill covers a wide range of state-of-the-art military weapons systems — as well as strategic defense technology designed for use in outer space — much of it goes directly to military servicemen and women.
Included in this year’s bill is a 2.6% raise for active duty servicemen and women — the largest increase in pay in nearly a decade. The bill will also allocate billions of dollars to spousal and community support, child care for military children, schools, and counseling services.
There are more than 1.1 million active duty service men and women — as well as 1.5 million of their family members — on hundreds of bases across the United States. Military populations and their families have a considerable economic and social impact in the cities in which they live. In many cases, the number of on-base military-affiliated personnel is equivalent to 5%, 10%, and in some cases, over 30% of the broader metro area’s population.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed the number of active duty men and women, in addition to their dependents, living on bases in major metropolitan areas across the country to determine America’s top military cities. Metro areas were ranked on the number of military personnel and known dependents as a percent of the the total metro area population. The dependent figures reflect the number of known dependents affiliated with active duty servicemen and women, whether or not they live on-base. Many of the cities with relatively large military populations are also home larger-than-typical shares of veterans.
Fort Drum, the backdrop for the 2019 defense budget signing, is the largest military base in the northeastern United States.