There are 18.2 million veterans who have served in the U.S. military, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Veterans comprise 7.3% of the civilian population over the age of 18. Many of these veterans are among America’s most decorated war heroes.
Veterans have a higher median income than nonveterans and lower unemployment and poverty rates than those who did not serve in the military. They also, however, have a higher percentage of people with a disability than those who did not serve. Veterans also contribute more volunteer hours a year to their communities than nonveterans, according to data from the Veterans Civic Health Index.
Some states have a higher percentage of veterans than others, and 24/7 Wall St. has reviewed U.S. Census Bureau data to determine which states have the highest percentage of former military members.
There are four states where the number of veterans as a share of the adult population exceeds 10%: Alaska, Montana, Virginia, and Wyoming. With the exception of Montana, each of those states is home to one of America’s largest military cities.
The states with the lowest share of veterans are mostly on either coast — New York (4.5%), New Jersey (4.6%), California (5.2%), and Massachusetts (5.5%). The three most populous states in the nation have the three largest veteran populations: California (1.56 million), Texas (1.46 million), and Florida (1.44 million). These states are also home to some of America’s largest military bases.
The highest percentage of veterans served during the era of the Vietnam War, 35.7%. Two states — Oregon and Minnesota — have the highest share of veterans who served during that era, both topping 40% of the states’ veteran populations. The first Gulf War era (1990-2001) has the next highest share of veterans, with 20.8%, and Virginia and Alaska have the highest percentage of veterans from that period, at 33.9% and 31.5%, respectively.
The percentage of veterans from World War II, the most expensive war in U.S, history, is just 3.4%. Connecticut is home to the highest percentage of World War II veterans at 7.1%.