Special Report

Cities Where the Most Veterans Live

Bastiaan Slabbers / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images

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. 

Veterans of the armed service reside in cities across the country, but some parts of the country have a considerably higher concentration of military vets than others. Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 50 metropolitan areas with the most veterans. Metro areas are ranked by the share of adult residents who are veterans.

In every metro area on this list, more than one in every 10 adult residents have a history of military service. In some, they account for more than one in every five adults. For context, 7.1% of the total U.S. civilian adult population have served in the military. Here is a look at the U.S. presidents who have served in the military. 

It is important to note that while many veterans chose to enlist out of a sense of patriotic duty – including a considerable share of the 2.4 million who enlisted after 9/11 – many living veterans did not choose to serve and were drafted into service during the Vietnam War. In most metro areas on this list, those whose period of service is confined to the Vietnam Era account for over 25% of the total veteran population. Here is a look at the wars that claimed the most American lives

Click here to see the cities where the most veterans live
Click here to see our detailed methodology

Source: ronpaulk / Getty Images

50. Mount Vernon-Anacortes, WA
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 10.9%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 13.6% — 158th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 34.1% — 191st highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 7.0% — 165th highest of 384 metros

Source: Sean Pavone / iStock via Getty Images

49. Huntsville, AL
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 11.0%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 15.1% — 108th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 24.6% — 30th lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 4.5% — 63rd lowest of 384 metros

Source: Kruck20 / iStock via Getty Images

48. Charleston-North Charleston, SC
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 11.0%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 15.8% — 86th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 26.7% — 43rd lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 3.0% — 23rd lowest of 384 metros

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / iStock via Getty Images

47. Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 11.2%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 10.1% — 83rd lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 36.3% — 95th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 7.8% — 105th highest of 384 metros

Source: George Dodd / iStock via Getty Images

46. Daphne-Fairhope-Foley, AL
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 11.2%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 10.9% — 108th lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 40.6% — 18th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 4.3% — 53rd lowest of 384 metros

Source: Maxvis / iStock via Getty Images

45. Longview, WA
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 11.3%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 9.7% — 69th lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 38.3% — 40th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 6.5% — 171st lowest of 384 metros

Source: felixmizioznikov / iStock via Getty Images

44. Sebring-Avon Park, FL
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 11.5%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 3.1% — 2nd lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 37.0% — 69th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 14.0% — 2nd highest of 384 metros

Source: dosecreative / iStock via Getty Images

43. Sebastian-Vero Beach, FL
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 11.7%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 4.4% — 4th lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 37.3% — 57th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 10.1% — 24th highest of 384 metros

Source: Sean Pavone / iStock via Getty Images

42. Hilton Head Island-Bluffton, SC
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 11.8%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 12.4% — 181st lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 34.0% — 192nd lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 7.8% — 108th highest of 384 metros

Source: makasana / iStock via Getty Images

41. Sumter, SC
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 11.9%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 18.3% — 39th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 27.3% — 48th lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 4.1% — 40th lowest of 384 metros

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images

40. Wichita Falls, TX
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 11.9%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 22.9% — 17th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 25.8% — 35th lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 3.1% — 24th lowest of 384 metros

Source: Kruck20 / iStock via Getty Images

39. Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 12.0%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 18.0% — 43rd highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 28.1% — 58th lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 3.4% — 29th lowest of 384 metros

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / iStock via Getty Images

38. Jacksonville, FL
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 12.1%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 15.9% — 80th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 24.6% — 29th lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 3.8% — 35th lowest of 384 metros

37. Grants Pass, OR
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 12.3%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 9.5% — 60th lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 39.2% — 29th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 9.5% — 36th highest of 384 metros

Source: Michael Warren / iStock via Getty Images

36. Ocala, FL
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 12.3%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 6.4% — 14th lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 36.9% — 71st highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 9.7% — 30th highest of 384 metros

Source: James_Gabbert / iStock via Getty Images

35. Rapid City, SD
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 12.5%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 15.4% — 97th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 29.0% — 67th lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 5.6% — 116th lowest of 384 metros

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images

34. Manhattan, KS
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 12.6%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 34.5% — 3rd highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 18.9% — 6th lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 4.1% — 41st lowest of 384 metros

Source: sframephoto / iStock via Getty Images

33. Dover, DE
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 12.8%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 14.9% — 110th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 28.0% — 56th lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 4.4% — 58th lowest of 384 metros

Source: Sean Pavone / iStock via Getty Images

32. Gulfport-Biloxi, MS
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 12.8%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 16.7% — 67th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 26.3% — 37th lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 3.9% — 36th lowest of 384 metros

31. Goldsboro, NC
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 12.8%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 16.0% — 77th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 24.3% — 28th lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 2.9% — 20th lowest of 384 metros

Source: Jacob Boomsma / iStock via Getty Images

30. Anchorage, AK
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 12.9%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 21.6% — 22nd highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 24.0% — 23rd lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 2.1% — 9th lowest of 384 metros

Source: CrackerClips / iStock via Getty Images

29. Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater, WA
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 13.1%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 17.7% — 46th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 27.3% — 47th lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 3.6% — 30th lowest of 384 metros

28. Watertown-Fort Drum, NY
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 13.2%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 31.4% — 5th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 19.5% — 7th lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 4.4% — 57th lowest of 384 metros

Source: choicegraphx / iStock via Getty Images

27. Punta Gorda, FL
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 13.4%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 4.8% — 5th lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 41.7% — 12th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 12.8% — 6th highest of 384 metros

26. California-Lexington Park, MD
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 13.6%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 15.5% — 94th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 20.0% — 11th lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 1.5% — 6th lowest of 384 metros

Source: Althom / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

25. Prescott Valley-Prescott, AZ
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 13.7%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 9.6% — 64th lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 42.7% — 6th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 7.7% — 113th highest of 384 metros

Source: benedek / iStock via Getty Images

24. Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 13.8%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 9.8% — 71st lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 31.0% — 101st lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 7.4% — 135th highest of 384 metros

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / iStock via Getty Images

23. Columbus, GA-AL
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 13.9%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 20.3% — 28th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 23.8% — 22nd lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 2.2% — 12th lowest of 384 metros

Source: DenisTangneyJr / E+ via Getty Images

22. Lake Havasu City-Kingman, AZ
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 14.3%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 6.4% — 13th lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 43.1% — 4th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 7.4% — 137th highest of 384 metros

Source: DenisTangneyJr / E+ via Getty Images

21. Cheyenne, WY
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 14.4%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 17.4% — 50th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 24.7% — 31st lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 4.9% — 78th lowest of 384 metros

Source: csfotoimages / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

20. Homosassa Springs, FL
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 14.6%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 5.7% — 9th lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 42.6% — 7th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 9.6% — 34th highest of 384 metros

Source: bjones27 / iStock via Getty Images

19. Warner Robins, GA
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 14.9%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 13.8% — 149th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 22.5% — 16th lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 1.6% — 8th lowest of 384 metros

Source: BERKO85 / iStock via Getty Images

18. Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 15.0%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 15.3% — 104th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 25.9% — 36th lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 2.8% — 16th lowest of 384 metros

Source: leezsnow / iStock via Getty Images

17. Great Falls, MT
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 15.1%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 23.1% — 15th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 24.3% — 27th lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 5.6% — 115th lowest of 384 metros

Source: ChrisBoswell / iStock via Getty Images

16. New Bern, NC
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 15.2%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 17.7% — 47th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 27.6% — 49th lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 5.0% — 82nd lowest of 384 metros

Source: benedek / iStock via Getty Images

15. Panama City, FL
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 15.3%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 14.3% — 130th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 25.7% — 34th lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 4.2% — 48th lowest of 384 metros

14. Elizabethtown-Fort Knox, KY
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 15.4%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 17.8% — 44th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 23.7% — 21st lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 1.4% — 5th lowest of 384 metros

Source: JillianCain / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

13. The Villages, FL
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 15.5%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 2.0% — the lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 48.2% — the highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 9.1% — 49th highest of 384 metros

Source: Oliver Kawwass / iStock via Getty Images

12. Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 16.0%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 21.9% — 20th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 19.6% — 8th lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 2.3% — 13th lowest of 384 metros

11. Bremerton-Silverdale-Port Orchard, WA
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 16.3%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 15.6% — 89th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 26.9% — 44th lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 2.8% — 15th lowest of 384 metros

Source: sarkophoto / iStock via Getty Images

10. Fairbanks, AK
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 16.5%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 31.8% — 4th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 20.0% — 9th lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 1.4% — 4th lowest of 384 metros

Source: Jacob Boomsma / iStock via Getty Images

9. Colorado Springs, CO
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 17.0%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 22.7% — 19th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 20.0% — 10th lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 2.2% — 11th lowest of 384 metros

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images

8. Fayetteville, NC
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 17.2%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 26.7% — 10th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 16.5% — 4th lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 1.6% — 7th lowest of 384 metros

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images

7. Lawton, OK
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 17.6%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 22.8% — 18th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 20.3% — 12th lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 3.0% — 22nd lowest of 384 metros

Source: ChrisBoswell / iStock via Getty Images

6. Clarksville, TN-KY
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 17.8%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 29.5% — 7th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 16.7% — 5th lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 2.1% — 10th lowest of 384 metros

Source: Ruth Peterkin / iStock via Getty Images

5. Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, FL
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 19.0%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 17.1% — 55th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 22.6% — 17th lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 2.7% — 14th lowest of 384 metros

Source: razyph / iStock via Getty Images

4. Sierra Vista-Douglas, AZ
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 19.4%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 13.3% — 167th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 28.1% — 57th lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 5.0% — 79th lowest of 384 metros

Source: Joe Raedle / Getty Images

3. Killeen-Temple, TX
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 21.0%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 29.1% — 8th highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 14.3% — 3rd lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 1.1% — 2nd lowest of 384 metros

Source: Eifel Kreutz / iStock via Getty Images

2. Jacksonville, NC
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 21.5%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 38.5% — the highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 13.4% — 2nd lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 1.4% — 3rd lowest of 384 metros

1. Hinesville, GA
> Civilian adults who have served in the military: 21.9%
> Veterans who first enlisted after 9/11: 35.5% — 2nd highest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served in the Vietnam Era only: 10.2% — the lowest of 384 metros
> Veterans who served during the Korean War only: 0.4% — the lowest of 384 metros

Methodology

To determine the metro areas with the most veterans, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed five-year estimates of the share of the civilian population 18 years and over who are veterans from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey.

Metro areas were ranked based on the share of the population 18 and over who are veterans. To break ties, we used the number of veterans.

We used the 384 metropolitan statistical areas as delineated by the United States Office of Management and Budget and used by the Census Bureau as our definition of metros.

Metro areas were excluded if the share of veterans was not available in the 2020 ACS, if the civilian population 18 and over was less than 1,000, or if the sampling error associated with a metro area’s data was deemed too high.

The sampling error was defined as too high if the coefficient of variation — a statistical assessment of how reliable an estimate is — for a metro area’s share of veterans was above 15% and greater than two standard deviations above the mean CV for all metro areas’ veteran shares. We similarly excluded metro areas that had a sampling error too high for their population, using the same definition.

Additional information on the share of veterans who served after 9/11, in the Vietnam Era, and during the Korean War are also five-year estimates from the 2020 ACS. Because the Census Bureau didn’t release one-year estimates for 2020 due to data collection issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, all ACS data are five-year estimates.

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