Veterans from different eras are moving to different places — and it could affect policy

Elizabeth Howe
November 27, 2019 - 12:35 pm

Getty Images


This veteran population shift report predicted the future — and veterans from different eras are shifting to different parts of the country. 

Over the next 25 years, the Vietnam veteran population is expected to significantly decline — leading to an overall 40-percent decrease in America's veteran population. Such a steep decline, Rebecca Burgess of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) argued, will result in geographical demographic shifts — shifts that could affect policies and lawmakers. 

Burgess used census, AEI and Department of Veterans Affairs data to predict where this younger generation of veterans will choose to live — and it's not where Vietnam-era veterans did. 

Vietnam-era veterans prefer Florida and — according to Burgess's prediction — will continue to prefer Florida as the number of Vietnam-era veterans continues to decrease through 2045. 

Post-9/11 veterans, however, prefer Texas. And — again according to Burgess's data — always will. In 2015, 394,266 post-9/11 veterans reported Texas residences. By 2045, that number will be 940,451. 

Such a significant shift in veteran populations have the potential to affect elections, policy priorities and Congressional elections, Burgess explained, saying that "as veterans flock to certain congressional districts, veterans’ policies may become regionally prominent electoral issues."

Burgess's report, however, had to use outdated information — the U.S. census didn't collect veteran residency data in 2020 and Burgess was forced to use data from 2000.

"This severely throws into question the capacity of Congress, the VA and state and local governments to plan adequately for the changing needs of American veterans," Burgess wrote. 

With such a significant demographic shift on the horizon, Burgess argued, more updated information is needed. 

Want to get more connected to the stories and resources Connecting Vets has to offer? Click here to sign up for our weekly newsletter.