The U.S. military is regarded as the most capable fighting force in the world. Though its purpose is to defend American interests across the globe, the impact of the U.S. military extends far beyond geopolitics. In cities across the country, the military serves as an economic and social pillar.
There are over 1 million active duty service personnel — with about 1.4 million dependent family members — and nearly 20 million military veterans living in cities and towns across the United States. These men and women enrich their communities, not only with their unique experiences and values, but also economically. Through a range of channels, including salaries, pensions, and vocational training, the Department of Veterans Affairs spent over $180 billion domestically in 2018 alone — and much of that ended up in just a handful of cities.
Using data compiled by Defense Department contractor Military OneSource, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the total number of active duty military personnel as a share of the total population at the metro area level to identify America’s military cities. While only 0.4% of the total U.S. population is in the military, in the cities on this list, active duty personnel account for anywhere from 2.5% to nearly 24% of the total population.
The large military presence in the metro areas on this list is typically attributable to the presence of one or several military bases or installations. These bases are home to thousands of military personnel and sometimes their families. Here is a look at America’s largest military bases.
Of course, America’s military presence is not limited to bases in the United States. The U.S. military has major installations in countries around the globe. These are America’s largest military bases around the world.
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