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Thousands of U.S. Veterans Call the Island Areas Home

Mon May 02 2016
Written by: Braedyn Kromer, Social, Economic and Housing Statistics Division
Component ID: #ti1178996537

Forty years ago, the Covenant to Establish a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands was signed, establishing a political union between the Northern Mariana Islands and the United States. In preparation for the 2020 Island Area Census, and as a way of recognizing the contributions of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and all of our U.S. Island Area neighbors, the U.S. Census Bureau has put together some information about a population that many people might not be aware we collect data about — Island Area veterans who have served in the U.S. armed forces.

Component ID: #ti1436700195

According to the 2010 Census, there were 14,047 veterans living in the four Island Areas (American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands) in 2010. They represented 5.6 percent of the civilian Island Area population age 18 and over. Guam reported the largest number of veterans at 8,041 (see Figure 1). At 7.9 percent, Guam also had the highest proportion of veterans in its civilian population 18 and over, compared with the other Island Areas. There are currently about 90,000 veterans living in Puerto Rico, but Puerto Rico is not part of the Island Areas census. Data on the population of Puerto Rico are collected annually in the Puerto Rico Community Survey, which is part of the American Community Survey program.

Figure 1.
Total Veterans 18 Years and Over, by Island Area: 2010

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Island Area Census

Component ID: #ti1984388374

While the majority of U.S. veterans are men, the Department of Veterans Affairs has stated that women are the fastest-growing subpopulation within the veteran community. At 11.3 percent, the proportion of women veterans in the total Island Areas was higher than the proportion stateside, which was 7.2 percent in 2010, according to the 2010 American Community Survey. The U.S. Virgin Islands reported the highest proportion of women veterans at 12.7 percent (see Figure 2).

Figure 2.
Proportion of Women Veterans, by Island Area: 2010
(in percent)

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Island Area Census

Component ID: #ti1984388378

The veteran population tends to be older because of the large Vietnam Era, Korean War and World War II cohorts. The majority (66.4 percent) of veterans in the states were over the age of 55 in 2010. Island Area veterans were younger, with more than half under age 55. Roughly 6 percent of Island Area veterans served in the Korean War and World War II, while almost 40 percent served during the Gulf War Era (see Figure 3).

Figure 3.
Distribution of Period of Service for the Total Island Areas: 2010
(in percent)

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Island Area Census

Component ID: #ti1984388381

Note: Veterans are categorized in their most recent period of service. For example, a veteran who served in both Gulf War I and Gulf War II would be categorized as Gulf War II.

Component ID: #ti1386497467

Service members are a mobile population, many moving several times during their time in the military. Once they leave service, veterans may not always move back to their place of birth. About half of all Island Area veterans were born in their island area of residence. However, this varies by island area. For example, 73.5 percent of veterans living in American Samoa in 2010 were born in American Samoa, whereas only 43.7 percent of U.S. Virgin Island veterans were originally from the U.S. Virgin Islands. In 2010, 4,206 veterans living in the four Island Areas were born in the states, while 17,200 stateside veterans were originally from the four Island Areas.

Component ID: #ti1386497468

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) also serves veterans living in the Island Areas. The Island Areas are currently home to eight VA facilities, including cemeteries, veteran centers and medical facilities. Veterans who incurred a disability while serving are of particular concern to the VA. In 2010, roughly 19 percent of veterans living in the four Island Areas had a service-connected disability rating. This proportion was higher than stateside veterans, where approximately 16 percent had a service-connected disability rating.

Component ID: #ti1386497469

For additional data on the four Island Areas, please visit the 2010 Census Island Area home page.

Component ID: #ti1386497470

For additional data on Island Area and stateside veterans, please visit American FactFinder and view the following datasets: 2010 U.S. Virgin Islands SF, 2010 Guam SF, 2010 Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands SF and 2010 American Samoa SF.

Component ID: #ti1386497471

For more information on veterans, please visit our veteran topic page and the American Community Survey page.

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