A Confederate and Union veteran meet during a celebration in Chicago, Illinois.

Some Facts About American Veterans

Veterans Day originated as Armistice Day on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938.

In 1954, President Eisenhower signed legislation to change the name to Veterans Day as a way to honor those who served in all American wars. The day honors military veterans with parades and speeches across the nation. A national ceremony takes place at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Veterans – Who are They?

  • 21.5 million — The number of military veterans in the United States in 2011.
  • 1.6 million — The number of female veterans in 2011.
  • 2.3 million — The number of black veterans in 2011. Additionally, 1.2 million veterans were Hispanic; 264,695 were Asian; 153,223 were American Indian or Alaska Native; 27,469 were Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander; and 17.2 million were non-Hispanic white. (The numbers for blacks, Asians, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders, and non-Hispanic whites cover only those reporting a single race.)
  • 9.2 million — The number of veterans 65 and older in 2011. At the other end of the age spectrum, 1.8 million were younger than 35.

Grand Army of the Republic veterans decorating gravestones in Graceland Cemetery with other veterans standing nearby

Grand Army of the Republic veterans decorating gravestones in Graceland Cemetery with other veterans standing nearby

When They Served

  • 7.5 million — Number of Vietnam-era veterans in 2011: 5.1 million served during the Gulf War (representing service from Aug. 2, 1990, to present);
  • 51,079 — Number of living veterans in 2011 who served during the Vietnam era and both Gulf War eras and no other period. Other living veterans in 2011 who served during three wars:
  • 43,942 — served during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam era.
  • Living veterans in 2011 who served during two wars — 876,663 served during both Gulf War eras, 205,205 served during both the Korean War and the Vietnam era, 129,972 served during both World War II and the Korean War.

Where They Live

  • 3 — Number of states with 1 million or more veterans in 2011. These states were California (1.9 million), Florida (1.6 million) and Texas (1.6 million).
  • 14.0% — Percent of people 18 and older in Alaska who were veterans in 2011. The percent of the 18-and- older population who were veterans was 12 percent or more in Maine, Montana, Virginia and Wyoming.

Education, Income, Employment

  • 26.3% — Percent of veterans 25 and older with at least a bachelor’s degree in 2011. In comparison, 28.5 percent of the total population had a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • 92.3% — Percent of veterans 25 and older with a high school diploma or higher in 2011, compared with 86 percent of the population as a whole.
  • $35,821 — Annual median income of veterans, in 2011 inflation-adjusted dollars, compared with $25,811 for the population as a whole.
  • 9.1 million — Number of veterans 18 to 64 in the labor force in 2011.

Veterans from the 122nd Field Artillary Battalion at the 33rd Division Association reunion.

Veterans from the 122nd Field Artillary Battalion at the 33rd Division Association reunion.

Disabilities

  • 3.5 million — Veterans with a service-connected disability rating.
  • 810,245 — Veterans with a rating of 70 percent or higher. Severity of one’s disability is scaled from 0 to 100 percent and eligibility for compensation depends on one’s rating.

Voting

  • 15.8 million — Number of veterans who voted in the 2008 presidential election. Seventy-one percent of veterans cast a ballot in the presidential election.
  • 12.4 million — Number of veterans who voted in the 2010 congressional election. Fifty-seven percent of veterans voted in the 2010 congressional election.

Business Owning Veterans

  • 9% – Percentage of all U.S. nonfarm firms that are majority owned by veterans. Veteran-owned firms comprised an estimated 2.4 million of the 27.1 million nonfarm businesses nationwide in 2007.
  • 75% — Percentage of veteran owners of respondent firms who were 55 or older in 2007. This compares with 37 percent of all owners of respondent firms. Similarly, in 2007, 56 percent of veteran-owned respondent firms with employees reported that their businesses were originally established before 1990. This compares with 39 percent of all employer respondent firms.
  • 8% — Percentage of veteran owners of respondent firms who were disabled as the result of injury incurred or aggravated during active military service.

Veterans from various military branches standing at attention at Rosehill Cemetery.

Veterans from various military branches standing at attention at Rosehill Cemetery.

Source: Census Bureau News

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