Young Americans enlist in the armed services for many reasons, including learning new skills, getting physically fit, and getting 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.
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. Veterans are also less likely to live in poverty and more likely to have higher incomes than their non-veteran counterparts.
Every state in the country has a significant veteran population, ranging from the tens of thousands up to over a million. Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 24/7 Wall St. identified the states with the most veterans. States are ranked by the number of veterans as a share of the total population.
Depending on the state, veterans comprise anywhere from 4.4% of the population to over 12%. For context, 7.1% of the total U.S. civilian 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. The United States has not had a military draft since 1973. Here is a look at the wars that claimed the most American lives.
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