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 non-veteran counterparts.

The Augusta-Richmond County metro area, which covers parts of Georgia and South Carolina, is home to a higher concentration of military veterans than the average across the country. There are an estimated 54,770 civilians living in the metro area with a background of military service, or 12.0% of the local adult population. Nationwide, just 7.1% of the civilian adult population are veterans.

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 Augusta-Richmond County, those whose period of service is confined to the Vietnam Era account for 28.1% of the total veteran population. Another 18.0% of veterans in the metro area enlisted after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

All data in this story are five-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2020 American Community Survey.


RankMetro areaCivilian adults who have served (%)Total number of veteransVeterans who enlisted after 9/11 (%)Veterans who served in Vietnam only (%)
1Hinesville, GA21.911,30735.510.2
2Jacksonville, NC21.524,00538.513.4
3Killeen-Temple, TX21.064,36629.114.3
4Sierra Vista-Douglas, AZ19.418,52013.328.1
5Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, FL19.039,23817.122.6
6Clarksville, TN-KY17.836,24429.516.7
7Lawton, OK17.615,58222.820.3
8Fayetteville, NC17.260,97026.716.5
9Colorado Springs, CO17.089,82922.720.0
10Fairbanks, AK16.511,18831.820.0
11Bremerton-Silverdale-Port Orchard, WA16.332,54015.626.9
12Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC16.0207,17421.919.6
13The Villages, FL15.518,6472.048.2
14Elizabethtown-Fort Knox, KY15.417,23517.823.7
15Panama City, FL15.321,20914.325.7
16New Bern, NC15.214,02317.727.6
17Great Falls, MT15.19,18323.124.3
18Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL15.056,55015.325.9
19Warner Robins, GA14.919,92013.822.5
20Homosassa Springs, FL14.618,3625.742.6
21Cheyenne, WY14.410,59217.424.7
22Lake Havasu City-Kingman, AZ14.325,0506.443.1
23Columbus, GA-AL13.932,23920.323.8
24Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL13.866,5199.831.0
25Prescott Valley-Prescott, AZ13.726,6769.642.7
26California-Lexington Park, MD13.611,41115.520.0
27Punta Gorda, FL13.421,9864.841.7
28Watertown-Fort Drum, NY13.29,82931.419.5
29Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater, WA13.128,58617.727.3
30Anchorage, AK12.937,35721.624.0
31Gulfport-Biloxi, MS12.839,68016.726.3
32Dover, DE12.817,24214.928.0
33Goldsboro, NC12.811,69916.024.3
34Manhattan, KS12.611,49634.518.9
35Rapid City, SD12.513,28315.429.0
36Ocala, FL12.336,1496.436.9
37Grants Pass, OR12.38,6389.539.2
38Jacksonville, FL12.1142,11115.924.6
39Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC12.054,77018.028.1
40Wichita Falls, TX11.913,25622.925.8
41Sumter, SC11.912,50518.327.3
42Hilton Head Island-Bluffton, SC11.820,39712.434.0
43Sebastian-Vero Beach, FL11.715,3624.437.3
44Sebring-Avon Park, FL11.510,0263.137.0
45Longview, WA11.39,4689.738.3
46Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL11.260,76110.136.3
47Daphne-Fairhope-Foley, AL11.219,17410.940.6
48Charleston-North Charleston, SC11.067,05815.826.7
49Huntsville, AL11.039,80415.124.6
50Mount Vernon-Anacortes, WA10.910,74413.634.1