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NACo County Explorer: Our Nation's Veterans

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    NACo County Explorer: Our Nation's Veterans

    DEMOGRAPHIC HIGHLIGHTS

    Veterans live in every county across the nation. In 2019, 17.5 million veterans lived in U.S. counties, comprising 7 percent of county residents. Though the veteran population is predominantly male (91 percent), women make up a growing share, about 1.5 million (9 percent). The U.S. Census Bureau projects that the share of female veterans will jump to 17 percent by 2040. Among veterans 25 years and older, two-thirds completed at least some post-secondary education, with at least 28 percent or more completing a bachelor’s degree or higher as their highest level of educational attainment.

    MORE THAN HALF OF THE VETERAN POPULATION RESIDES IN 10 STATES

    Top 10 States with the Highest Share of the Veteran Population

    More than half of the veteran population resides in the ten states above, with California, Texas and Florida each home to more than 1 million veterans. The top three largest counties where veterans make up 10 percent or more of the county population are El Paso County, Colo. (17 percent), Brevard County, Fla. (14 percent) and Pierce County, Wash. (13 percent).

    THE VETERAN POPULATION DECLINED IN A MAJORITY OF STATES

    Change in Veteran Population by State, 2018 and 2019

    According to the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics, the veteran population is slowly declining and will reach a low of 12 million by 2045. State-level analysis shows that the number of veterans in the United States (including all 50 states and Puerto Rico) declined by 3.1 percent, from 18 million to 17.5 million between 2018 and 2019.

    SUPPORTING OUR NATION’S VETERANS

    Counties serve our nation’s veterans through supporting access to stable housing, employment and education and delivering critical mental health services that treat trauma and prevent suicide.

    COUNTY VETERAN SERVICE OFFICERS (CVSOS) OPERATE IN 30 STATES AND ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR HELPING VETERANS ACCESS FEDERAL BENEFITS

    Distribution of CVSOs by State, 2020

    Counties fund County Veteran Service Officers (CVSOs), who help veterans access a range of service-connected federal benefits. These federal benefits include health care, disability, pension, compensation and transition assistance programs.

    MORE THAN $209 BILLION DISTRIBUTED TO VETERANS IN OUR NATION’S COUNTIES

    Geographic Distribution of Veteran Affairs (VA) Expenditures by State, Fiscal Year 2020

    In Fiscal Year 2020, more than $209 billion in federal dollars was distributed to veterans in counties across the nation. Texas, California and Florida—the states with the largest veteran populations—also had larger total VA expenditures, which represented 27 percent of all VA funds in Fiscal Year 2020.

    VA FUNDS INCREASED BY $21 BILLION, 7 PERCENT ABOVE 2019 LEVELS

    Total VA Funding, FY2015-2020

    Fiscal Year 2020 VA funds increased by $15.1 billion, representing a 7 percent increase from 2019 expenditure levels. Two VA spending categories—compensation and pension, and medical care—largely drove this increase, comprising 48 percent and 40 percent of Fiscal Year 2020 VA expenditures, respectively.

    COUNTIES ARE INVESTING ARPA FUNDS IN SUPPORTING OUR NATION’S VETERANS

    Like many other sub-population groups, the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated veterans with many getting sick from COVID-19 and other health crises. Others are at risk of losing their homes, losing their jobs and struggling to find work.

    Through the flexible funding provided under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), counties can support programs and strategies that assist veterans. Some of these efforts include:

    • San Joaquin County, Calif. is establishing a landlord incentive program to house homeless veterans through a $222,000 investment in Recovery Funds. The project expands the county’s Landlord Incentive Program to encourage landlords to accept homeless veterans utilizing Department of Housing and Urban Development Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program vouchers for a minimum of 30 households. Collaborating with the Housing Authority County of San Joaquin, funds will be provided for security deposits, unit repairs, utility assistance, rental application fees, vacancy loss coverage and leasing incentive payment to HUD-VASH landlord participants to assist a minimum of 30 households in San Joaquin County.

    • Nassau County, N.Y. is connecting veterans with integral health and human services through the new Boost Nassau Veteran Support Program. The program was allocated $1 million in Recovery Funds and will support local non-profit agencies that provide services to veterans and their families, experienced financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic and need assistance to continue to operate and/or reopen safely.

    OTHER NACo RESOURCES

    NACo's County Explorer tool provides county-level data and profiles that offer informative, statistical summaries. You can also access data on Census Counts, veteran demographics and federal veteran funding at the county level. See also NACo's recent analysis of 2020 Census counts, which revealed shifts in U.S. demographics toward a more diverse, yet increasingly urbanized nation.

    Data Source and Notes

    Sources: NACo Analysis of U.S. Census Bureau - American Community Survey (ACS) five-year estimates, 2015-2019 (Tables S2101); NACo Analysis of U.S. Census Bureau - American Community Survey (ACS) five-year estimates, 2015-2019 (Tables S2101); Analysis of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Data; National Association of County Veteran Service Officers (Adapted by Center for a New American Security (CNAS)).

    Notes:

    Small counties have less than 50,000 residents, large counties have more than 500,000 residents and medium-sized counties populations between 50,000 and 500,000 residents.

    Veteran Affairs Expenditures Data:
    • The VA expenditures data provide estimated dollar expenditures for major VA programs at the state, county and Congressional District levels.
    • The data are grouped by the following categories: Compensation and Pension; Education and Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment; Insurance and Indemnities; Construction and Related Costs; General Operating Expenses and Related Costs; Loan Guaranty; and Medical Expenditures.
    • Computation of the statistics is based on the 3,069 counties with county governments.
    American Community Survey Data Tables:
    • The American Community Survey (ACS) sample is about 3.5 million households, smaller in comparison to the decennial census. Thus, the estimates produced from ACS have a degree of uncertainty (sampling error) and Census provides the margin of error for each estimate produced. 
    • Computation of the statistics is based on the 3,069 counties with county governments.
    DEMOGRAPHIC HIGHLIGHTS
    2021-11-24
    Blog
    2021-11-24
In 2019, 17.5 million veterans lived in U.S. counties, comprising seven percent of county residents More than half of the veteran population resides in 10 states

DEMOGRAPHIC HIGHLIGHTS

Veterans live in every county across the nation. In 2019, 17.5 million veterans lived in U.S. counties, comprising 7 percent of county residents. Though the veteran population is predominantly male (91 percent), women make up a growing share, about 1.5 million (9 percent). The U.S. Census Bureau projects that the share of female veterans will jump to 17 percent by 2040. Among veterans 25 years and older, two-thirds completed at least some post-secondary education, with at least 28 percent or more completing a bachelor’s degree or higher as their highest level of educational attainment.

MORE THAN HALF OF THE VETERAN POPULATION RESIDES IN 10 STATES

Top 10 States with the Highest Share of the Veteran Population

More than half of the veteran population resides in the ten states above, with California, Texas and Florida each home to more than 1 million veterans. The top three largest counties where veterans make up 10 percent or more of the county population are El Paso County, Colo. (17 percent), Brevard County, Fla. (14 percent) and Pierce County, Wash. (13 percent).

THE VETERAN POPULATION DECLINED IN A MAJORITY OF STATES

Change in Veteran Population by State, 2018 and 2019

According to the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics, the veteran population is slowly declining and will reach a low of 12 million by 2045. State-level analysis shows that the number of veterans in the United States (including all 50 states and Puerto Rico) declined by 3.1 percent, from 18 million to 17.5 million between 2018 and 2019.

SUPPORTING OUR NATION’S VETERANS

Counties serve our nation’s veterans through supporting access to stable housing, employment and education and delivering critical mental health services that treat trauma and prevent suicide.

COUNTY VETERAN SERVICE OFFICERS (CVSOS) OPERATE IN 30 STATES AND ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR HELPING VETERANS ACCESS FEDERAL BENEFITS

Distribution of CVSOs by State, 2020

Counties fund County Veteran Service Officers (CVSOs), who help veterans access a range of service-connected federal benefits. These federal benefits include health care, disability, pension, compensation and transition assistance programs.

MORE THAN $209 BILLION DISTRIBUTED TO VETERANS IN OUR NATION’S COUNTIES

Geographic Distribution of Veteran Affairs (VA) Expenditures by State, Fiscal Year 2020

In Fiscal Year 2020, more than $209 billion in federal dollars was distributed to veterans in counties across the nationTexas, California and Florida—the states with the largest veteran populations—also had larger total VA expenditures, which represented 27 percent of all VA funds in Fiscal Year 2020.

VA FUNDS INCREASED BY $21 BILLION, 7 PERCENT ABOVE 2019 LEVELS

Total VA Funding, FY2015-2020

Fiscal Year 2020 VA funds increased by $15.1 billion, representing a 7 percent increase from 2019 expenditure levels. Two VA spending categories—compensation and pension, and medical care—largely drove this increase, comprising 48 percent and 40 percent of Fiscal Year 2020 VA expenditures, respectively.

COUNTIES ARE INVESTING ARPA FUNDS IN SUPPORTING OUR NATION’S VETERANS

Like many other sub-population groups, the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated veterans with many getting sick from COVID-19 and other health crises. Others are at risk of losing their homes, losing their jobs and struggling to find work.

Through the flexible funding provided under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), counties can support programs and strategies that assist veterans. Some of these efforts include:

  • San Joaquin County, Calif. is establishing a landlord incentive program to house homeless veterans through a $222,000 investment in Recovery Funds. The project expands the county’s Landlord Incentive Program to encourage landlords to accept homeless veterans utilizing Department of Housing and Urban Development Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program vouchers for a minimum of 30 households. Collaborating with the Housing Authority County of San Joaquin, funds will be provided for security deposits, unit repairs, utility assistance, rental application fees, vacancy loss coverage and leasing incentive payment to HUD-VASH landlord participants to assist a minimum of 30 households in San Joaquin County.

  • Nassau County, N.Y. is connecting veterans with integral health and human services through the new Boost Nassau Veteran Support Program. The program was allocated $1 million in Recovery Funds and will support local non-profit agencies that provide services to veterans and their families, experienced financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic and need assistance to continue to operate and/or reopen safely.

OTHER NACo RESOURCES

NACo's County Explorer tool provides county-level data and profiles that offer informative, statistical summaries. You can also access data on Census Counts, veteran demographics and federal veteran funding at the county level. See also NACo's recent analysis of 2020 Census counts, which revealed shifts in U.S. demographics toward a more diverse, yet increasingly urbanized nation.

Data Source and Notes

Sources:
NACo Analysis of U.S. Census Bureau - American Community Survey (ACS) five-year estimates, 2015-2019 (Tables S2101); NACo Analysis of U.S. Census Bureau - American Community Survey (ACS) five-year estimates, 2015-2019 (Tables S2101); Analysis of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Data; National Association of County Veteran Service Officers (Adapted by Center for a New American Security (CNAS)).

Notes:

Small counties have less than 50,000 residents, large counties have more than 500,000 residents and medium-sized counties populations between 50,000 and 500,000 residents.

Veteran Affairs Expenditures Data:
  • The VA expenditures data provide estimated dollar expenditures for major VA programs at the state, county and Congressional District levels.
  • The data are grouped by the following categories: Compensation and Pension; Education and Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment; Insurance and Indemnities; Construction and Related Costs; General Operating Expenses and Related Costs; Loan Guaranty; and Medical Expenditures.
  • Computation of the statistics is based on the 3,069 counties with county governments.
American Community Survey Data Tables:
  • The American Community Survey (ACS) sample is about 3.5 million households, smaller in comparison to the decennial census. Thus, the estimates produced from ACS have a degree of uncertainty (sampling error) and Census provides the margin of error for each estimate produced. 
  • Computation of the statistics is based on the 3,069 counties with county governments.

About Stacy Nakintu (Full Bio)

Research & Data Analyst

Stacy is a research & data analyst in the Counties Futures Lab. She gathers and analyzes primary or secondary data from various sources for developing reports, maintaining and updating the data behind County Explorer, and for policy stats for NACo’s advocacy and communication efforts.

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