“A new graphic meant to help lawmakers allocate resources predicts what states Vietnam, Gulf War, Post-Gulf and Post-9/11 era veterans will be living in every year until 2045, a D.C. think tank announced Friday.”
Rebecca Burgess, who is an American Enterprise Institute expert on veterans, told a national audience at a conference earlier this year how expanding the VA’s health benefits made her question how geography and demographics impact perceptions from the public and politicians about veterans. However, she discovered that it's difficult to find good data on where veterans live or predict future residences.
"In fact, the more one tries to piece together a clear picture of veteran demographics, the less coherent the data seem to be," Burgess wrote in her study. "States, counties, and the federal government seem to arrive at different outcomes in terms of veteran numbers, even using the same projection model, VetPop 2016."
Military.com’s recent article, “These States Will Be the Most Popular for Veterans in the Next 25 Years,” explains that VetPop 2016, or "Veterans Population Projection Model 2016," is data from the VA that’s used by the agency and other groups, such as Congress, for policy planning and budgeting.
Burgess said she examined the VA's data and compared it to other sources, like the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. She found that the actuarial projections didn’t always agree. Burgess said that the VA's core data about veterans is nearly 20 years old and the Census Bureau stopped collecting veteran status data with the 2010 Census. However, she says, visualizing where vets will be over the next three decades will offer at least two benefits: providing the best idea of where VA resources will be most needed in the future and which congressional districts might see veteran policies soon become an electoral issue.
The VA has estimated that the overall veteran population will drop about 40% in 25 years. Burgess's research shows geographic population shifts, grouped by states and counties from 2015 to 2045.
Unlike the general shifts in the veteran population, with most veterans in the South and West, high numbers of Vietnam-era vets remain in the Northeast and Midwest—especially compared to the West. Already with the Gulf War and post–Gulf War veterans, the data shows higher numbers in the Southeast, but a good number (in the 240,000–300,000 range) who reside in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Post-9/11 vets are moving to Texas, but also going to Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia and Washington State
Burgess would like to see better data regarding the veteran’s demographics. She also said that the VA should develop an updated veteran population projection model, regardless of what the Census Bureau does.
Reference: Military.com (November 26, 2019) “These States Will Be the Most Popular for Veterans in the Next 25 Years”