5 facts about veterans
Religion & Liberty Online

5 facts about veterans

Today is the official observance of Veterans Day, a U.S. public holiday set aside to thank and honor all those who served honorably in the armed forces both in wartime or peacetime. (Because the federal holiday falls on Sunday this year, the official observance is moved to Monday.)

Here are five facts you should know about veterans in the United States:

1. The Veteran’s Administration estimates there are currently 19,998,799 living veterans (18,115,951 men and 1,882,848 women). Out of that number, 8,876,728 served in the Army, 4,264,809 served in the Navy, 3,476,021 served in the Air Force, 2,213,601 served in the Marines, 950,187 served in the Reserves, and 217,454 served in non-defense services.*

2. Of the veterans now living, 15,449,817 served in wartime and 4,548,982 served only in peacetime. The war with the most living veterans is the Gulf War era with 7,271,465 followed by the Vietnam War era with 6,650,524, the Korean Conflict with 1,475,383, and the Post 9/11 era with 2,952,858. Only 623,653 World War II vets and 5,967 pre-World War II vets are still living.

3. The racial and ethnic demographics of currently living veterans: White, alone: 15,267,015; Black or African American, alone: 2,468,555; Hispanic or Latino (of any race): 1,477,862; Two or more races: 413,717; Asian, alone: 317,506; Some other race, alone: 287,366; American Indian and Alaska Native, alone: 144,949; Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, alone: 39,999.

4. Of living veterans, 1,297,065 served as officers and 18,701,734 served as enlisted. Educational attainment for veterans: 6 percent are less than a high school graduate; 28 percent have a high school diploma or equivalent; 37.3 percent have some college or associate’s degree; 28.3 have a Bachelor’s degree or higher.

5. The median annual income for a veteran is about $11,000 more than that of the average non-veteran American. The median income for veterans is $39,494 ($40,076 for men and $34,178 for women) while the median income for nonveterans is $28,347 ($35,365 for men and $23,445 for women).


*Reserves include only those who have had active federal military service (other than for training) as a result of their membership in the reserves or National Guard. Reserve forces with active military service in the regular military are classified according to the branch. Non-defense includes Coast Guard, Public Health Service (PHS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Joe Carter

Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).