July 4, 2020, marks the 244th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the 13 colonies. As people across the country celebrate the occasion with fireworks, parades, and BBQs — while observing state and local social distancing rules — it is fitting to acknowledge the men and women who have served in the U.S. armed forces.
Across the United States, there are nearly 18 million adults who have served in the military. Of U.S. veterans living in the United States, one-fifth served in the years since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, over a third served in the Vietnam era, and less than half a million served in World War II.
Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 24/7 Wall St. identified the states with the most veterans. In a handful of states, veterans make up less than 5% of the adult population. In other states, they account for more than 10% of residents 18 and older.
According to a study by the Pew Research Center, just over half of all veterans say that their military training did a good job preparing them for civilian life. Nationwide, working-age veterans are about as likely as the typical working-age American to participate in the labor force, and veteran households are more likely to be better off financially than non-veteran households. The percentage of veterans who live in poverty is lower than the poverty rate for all people in every state.
Still, many veterans, particularly those who suffered trauma on their tour of duty, are at increased risk of financial hardship and substance abuse problems. Nationwide, there are 1.2 million veterans living below the poverty line and at least 37,000 homeless veterans.
While there are some exceptions, many of the states that are home to a large concentration of veterans are also home to major military bases as well as a high concentration of active duty troops. Here is a look at the states with the most people in the military, and here is a look at America’s military cities.