Veterans Across the United States

I had the honor of meeting with students from Middletown High School this morning, which, alongside giving the commencement speech at George F. Baker High School, was one of the most exciting things that I've done in 2015.

The topic of conversation was the importance of civic duty, and having spent five years on active duty in the United States Army as a younger man, I have a deeply personal connection with the concept of the Citizen Soldier. This is an ideal that I have worked very hard to live up to in the phases of both my military and civilian career.

A young lady asked me a question that I did not know the answer to: how many veterans are in the United States? I honestly didn't know.

The answer surprised me: at 21.3 million, Armed Forces vets make up about 9% of the total US population.

Here's a look of where veterans are currently across the United States:

The highest concentration of veterans live in our country's 48th most populous state - Alaska - where they make up nearly 14% of the population:

New York State, where I live, is home to 919,499, or about 4% of all US veterans. Over half of New York State veterans are 65 or older. Around 32% of the state's veterans served in Vietnam, with 28% serving in peacetime only, and about 9% in the Iraq / Afghanistan conflict that I served in.


Many veterans are invisible in their community, in spite of the fact that they quietly surround us. Some simply return to civilian life and begin new careers. For many, like me, this is by design - while deeply proud of my own service, I was also very willing to return to civilian life. Complicating things are a personal and complicated set of emotions about some of the things that I did (I've written about it here).

I am hoping that this changes over the next few years. I am increasingly frustrated with the inability of our nation's leaders to solve key problems that effect everyone - particularly with respect to our country's infrastructure. As our roads, bridges, and tunnels disintegrate in front of us, harming economic production and lowering our overall quality of life, they are debating issues that are highly politicized and ultimately meaningless compared to the concerns that both sides of the aisle should agree on. I'm hoping that in the future, our veterans will become politically active, and bring some key leadership qualities to municipalities in New York State and the Federal Government.

More data on veterans is available via the US Census Bureau, which does an excellent job of tracking veterans across the USA, along with information on their income, status, and their data are publicly available.