Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Veterans seem to prefer rural areas close to bases

The number of people in the U.S. military has decreased since 1980, but the number of veterans living in rural areas has increased over that same time, and civilians have less contact with veterans now than ever before, a new report says. The research, to be published in the journal Armed Forces & Society, concludes that veterans are segregated into smaller areas of rural America, often close to military bases in states like Florida, Texas and Alabama, Emily Badger of The Atlantic reports.

In 1980, there were more than 28 million veterans and more than 2 million active-duty service members. By 2010, the number fell to 22 million and 1.4 million on active duty, Western Washington University sociologist Jay Teachman found after U.S. Census data analysis. The U.S. population grew by 80 million from 1980 to 2010, making veterans' share of the population drop to 7 percent from 12 percent over that time. Teachman's maps illustrating the decline of veterans "suggest that service in the military has increasingly become something for rural Americans to do," Badger reports.
Click map for larger version
"Little research has been done until now looking at just how these vets are geographically distributed across the country," Badger writes. "Based on Teachman's analysis, it appears they've been increasingly concentrated in smaller rural counties -- the same areas from which we know most military recruits are drawn." Eighty percent of all counties contained more than 10 percent veterans in 1980. But in 2010, just 26 percent of all counties contained 10 percent veterans, and most of them were rural. (Read more)

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