American Veterans By the Numbers
The number of military veterans in the United States.
The number of veterans who are women.
The number of veterans who are age 65 or older.
The number of black veterans. Additionally, 1.1 million veterans are Hispanic; 276,000 are Asian; 185,000 are American Indian or Alaska native; and 25,000 are native Hawaiian and other Pacific islander. (The numbers for blacks, Asians, American Indians, and Alaska natives and native Hawaiians and other Pacific islanders cover only those reporting a single race.)
Number of Vietnam-era veterans. More than 30% of all veterans served in Vietnam, the largest share of any period of service. The next largest share of wartime veterans, 3.9 million or fewer than 20%, served during World War II.
Percentage of Persian Gulf War veterans who are women. In contrast, women account for 5% of World War II vets, 3% of Vietnam vets, and 2% of Korean War vets.
Number of veterans who served during both the Vietnam era and in the Gulf War.
383,000 veterans served during both the Korean War and the Vietnam conflict.
107,000 served during three periods: World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam conflict.
376,000 served in World War II and the Korean War.
Number of states with 1 million or more veterans. These states are California (2.3 million), Florida (1.8 million), Texas (1.7 million), New York (1.2 million), Pennsylvania (1.1 million), and Ohio (1.1 million).
Aggregate amount of money received annually by the 2.6 million veterans receiving compensation for service-connected disabilities.
Total amount of federal government spending for veterans benefits programs in fiscal year 2004.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Armistice Day Becomes Veterans Day
World War I officially ended on June 28, 1919, with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. The actual fighting between the Allies and Germany, however, had ended seven months earlier with the armistice, which went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918. Armistice Day, as November 11 became known, officially became a holiday in the United States in 1926, and a national holiday 12 years later. On June 1, 1954, the name was changed to Veterans Day to honor all U.S. veterans.
In 1968, new legislation changed the national commemoration of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. It soon became apparent, however, that November 11 was a date of historic significance to many Americans. Therefore, in 1978 Congress returned the observance to its traditional date.
Tomb of the Unknowns
Official, national ceremonies for Veterans Day center around the Tomb of the Unknowns.
To honor these men, symbolic of all Americans who gave their lives in all wars, an Army honor guard, the 3d U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard), keeps day and night vigil.
At 11 a.m. on November 11, a combined color guard representing all military services executes "Present Arms" at the tomb. The nation's tribute to its war dead is symbolized by the laying of a presidential wreath and the playing of "Taps."
Unknown Soldier Identified
On Memorial Day (which honors U.S. service people who died in action) in 1958, two more unidentified American war dead, one from World War II and the other from the Korean War, were buried next the unknown soldier of World War I.
A law was passed in 1973 providing interment of an unknown American from the Vietnam War, but because of the improved technology to identify the dead, it was not until 1984 that an unidentified soldier was buried in the tomb.
In 1998, however, the Vietnam soldier was identified through DNA tests as Michael Blassie, a 24-year-old Air Force pilot who was shot down in May of 1972 near the Cambodian border. His body was disinterred and reburied by his family in St. Louis, Missouri.
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