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 Longview metro area, located in Washington, is home to a higher concentration of military veterans than the average across the country. There are an estimated 9,468 civilians living in the metro area with a background of military service, or 11.3% 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 Longview, those whose period of service is confined to the Vietnam Era account for 38.3% of the total veteran population. Another 9.7% 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.
|Rank||Metro area||Civilian adults who have served (%)||Total number of veterans||Veterans who enlisted after 9/11 (%)||Veterans who served in Vietnam only (%)|
|4||Sierra Vista-Douglas, AZ||19.4||18,520||13.3||28.1|
|5||Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, FL||19.0||39,238||17.1||22.6|
|9||Colorado Springs, CO||17.0||89,829||22.7||20.0|
|11||Bremerton-Silverdale-Port Orchard, WA||16.3||32,540||15.6||26.9|
|12||Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC||16.0||207,174||21.9||19.6|
|13||The Villages, FL||15.5||18,647||2.0||48.2|
|14||Elizabethtown-Fort Knox, KY||15.4||17,235||17.8||23.7|
|15||Panama City, FL||15.3||21,209||14.3||25.7|
|16||New Bern, NC||15.2||14,023||17.7||27.6|
|17||Great Falls, MT||15.1||9,183||23.1||24.3|
|18||Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL||15.0||56,550||15.3||25.9|
|19||Warner Robins, GA||14.9||19,920||13.8||22.5|
|20||Homosassa Springs, FL||14.6||18,362||5.7||42.6|
|22||Lake Havasu City-Kingman, AZ||14.3||25,050||6.4||43.1|
|24||Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL||13.8||66,519||9.8||31.0|
|25||Prescott Valley-Prescott, AZ||13.7||26,676||9.6||42.7|
|26||California-Lexington Park, MD||13.6||11,411||15.5||20.0|
|27||Punta Gorda, FL||13.4||21,986||4.8||41.7|
|28||Watertown-Fort Drum, NY||13.2||9,829||31.4||19.5|
|35||Rapid City, SD||12.5||13,283||15.4||29.0|
|37||Grants Pass, OR||12.3||8,638||9.5||39.2|
|39||Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC||12.0||54,770||18.0||28.1|
|40||Wichita Falls, TX||11.9||13,256||22.9||25.8|
|42||Hilton Head Island-Bluffton, SC||11.8||20,397||12.4||34.0|
|43||Sebastian-Vero Beach, FL||11.7||15,362||4.4||37.3|
|44||Sebring-Avon Park, FL||11.5||10,026||3.1||37.0|
|46||Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL||11.2||60,761||10.1||36.3|
|48||Charleston-North Charleston, SC||11.0||67,058||15.8||26.7|
|50||Mount Vernon-Anacortes, WA||10.9||10,744||13.6||34.1|