Late Breaking News
Most Counties Have Few Veterans
- Categorized in: Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), January 2013, News
Western Washington University
In the following decade, that number dropped by more than half. By 2010, only 26% of counties had veteran populations of 10% or greater. Outside the counties surrounding large bases, the counties with the highest proportion of veterans tended to be those that were very sparsely populated, such as in Alaska and Nevada.
Among larger counties with populations of 100,000 or more, the change in veteran populations is even more stark. In 1980, 20 large counties had veteran populations of 15% or more. By 2010, the number had dropped to nine, and those were located in only three states — Florida (5), Virginia (3), and Washington state (1) — all with major military installations.
Teachman cautioned that the smaller percentage of Americans serving in the armed forces and the reduced interaction between veterans and nonveterans could have serious consequences.
“After World War II, most of America had an understanding of military concerns,” he said. With the separation seen today, “there are more opportunities for misunderstanding and less empathy for the plight of veterans.”
According to the 2012 Blue Star Family survey, military families already acutely feel the consequences of poor communication and limited interaction with the broader civilian society. Ninety-five percent of respondents to the survey agreed that “the general public does not truly understand or appreciate the sacrifices made by service members and their families.”
Teachman said he fears that the potential for misunderstandings will increase, if current trends continue.
“On the broader political scale, the military is a very big institution that takes a good chunk of the federal budget. With a smaller number serving and greater geographic concentration of those that do, there’s a lack of exchange between the two groups that makes it harder for each group to understand what the other is going through,” he noted, suggesting that, in the competition for federal dollars, the concerns of veterans could be pushed aside.
1. Teachman J. A Note of Disappearing Veterans: 1980-2010. AFS. Article DOI: 10.1177/0095327X12468731. Article available through Sage.