Monday, January 30, 2017

Nearly one-fourth of all veterans live in rural areas

While the 2010 census found that only 16 percent of Americans live in rural areas, 24 percent of all veterans do, says a report by the U.S. Census Bureau, using data from 2011-15. An even greater percentage of military members come from rural areas.

Of the veterans who live in rural areas, 45.9 percent live in the South, 26.4 percent in the Midwest, 14.1 percent in the West and 13.7 percent in the Northeast. Slicing the data another way, veterans are most likely to be rural if they live in the Midwest and least likely in the West. (Census graphic: Percentage of veterans by region)
More than 60 percent of veterans in Maine and Vermont, the two most rural states by population, live in rural areas. Following those states with the highest percentage of rural veterans are West Virginia, Mississippi, Arkansas, Montana, South Dakota, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Alabama, Kentucky, Iowa, Tennessee, Oklahoma and North Carolina.

Though the disability rate increases with age, compared with urban veterans, rural veterans have higher disability rates across all age ranges. Rural veterans are also slightly older. Their average age was 65 years, compared with 63 years for urban veterans. Among military eras, Vietnam Era veterans were the most rural (27.8 percent), followed by peacetime (25.2), Korean War (23.9), the first Gulf War (21.9), World War II (18.7) and the second Gulf War (17.7).

Many veterans have health problems. While the uninsured rates are comparable for rural and urban veterans 65 and older, the younger the veteran, the less likely he or she is to have health insurance. President Trump's repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act could leave more veterans without health insurance, which means the Department of Veteran Affairs may have to pick up the slack, says a report from NPR.

Among veterans 45 to 64, 8.6 percent of rural vets are uninsured, compared to 7.4 percent for urban veterans, for ages 26 to 44, 13 percent of rural veterans are uninsured, compared to 11 percent of urban veterans, and for ages 18 to 25, 21.6 percent of rural veterans are uninsured, compared to 15.5 percent of urban veterans.

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