Young Americans enlist in the armed services for many reasons, including the opportunity to gain new skills, get physically fit, and earn financial assistance to pay for college. One of the most common reasons, however, is to serve the country. On top of the more than 1.4 million active-duty service members in the military, the United States is home to over 17.8 million veterans.
The sacrifices veterans have made for the country often follow them long after their service. Nearly half of those who served after the terror attacks of 9/11 say they had an emotionally traumatic or distressing experience while serving, and about one in four of all veterans say readjusting to civilian life was at least somewhat difficult, according to a Pew Research study.
Still, the same study also found that over half of all veterans say their service provided them with useful skills and training for the civilian job market, and that veterans are less likely to live in poverty and more likely to have higher incomes than their nonveteran counterparts.
Veterans of the armed service reside in communities across the country, but some parts of the country have a considerably higher concentration of military vets than others. Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 50 U.S. towns with the most veterans. Towns – defined as places with populations between 1,000 and 25,000 – are ranked by the share of adult residents who are veterans.
In every town on this list, veterans account for over 25% of the adult civilian population – more than triple the national share of 7.1%. Here is a look at the U.S. presidents who have served in the military.
The places on this list are concentrated in the South, including seven in Texas alone. Many of the places on this list – including Fort Hood, Texas and Fort Drum, New York – are themselves military bases, as certain bases around the country offer affordable housing options for former service members.
It is important to note that while many veterans chose to enlist out of a sense of patriotic duty, many living veterans did not choose to serve and were drafted into service during the Vietnam War. In a handful of towns on this list, those whose period of service is confined to the Vietnam Era account for over 50% of the total veteran population. Here is a look at the wars that claimed the most American lives.
Click here to see the towns with the most veterans
Click here to read our detailed methodology
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