November 11, 2012
The annual Veterans Day Parade in New York City on Sunday brought a crowd of about 600,000 to midtown Manhattan to honor America’s military veterans – the first major event in the city since Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on the region to the tune of about $50 billion in damages and economic losses. In Virginia’s Arlington National Cemetery, a color guard made up of members of all military branches honored America’s war dead at an 11 a.m. ceremony. At the Tomb of the Unknowns, President Obama laid a wreath and said that American soldiers’ needs would be met even as the country wound down wars in the Middle East and Asia. He pledged ongoing support for veterans as they transition to civilian life.
Obama reaffirmed his commitment to the post-9/11 GI Bill program, which provides college education funding for those who have served, and said soldiers suffering from war-related health problems would get the care they need.
"This is the first Veterans Day in a decade in which there are no American troops fighting and dying in Iraq," the president noted. "After a decade of war, our heroes are coming home."
Across the country on Sunday, from Washington, D.C., to the Mojave Desert in California, Americans honored members of the armed forces – both living and dead – with parades, speeches, music and other festivities.
But there are many challenges associated with the status of veterans of this country.
While the country currently has more than 22 million veterans, this number is growing: With the withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan and Iraq, more than a million military vets will be returning to civilian life in the next three to five years.
And a weak job market means a tough employment scenario for veterans – especially those with physical and psychological disabilities. (World War II vets are dying at a rate of approximately 680 a day.)
Here are some other fast facts associated with our veterans:
The number of current living military veterans in the U.S.
The number of female veterans in 2011
The number of black veterans in 2011
The number of veterans 65 and older in 2011
Number of veterans younger than 35 in 2011
Number of those who served in World War II – or about 9 percent of current veterans
Number of those who served in the Korean War – or roughly 11 percent of veterans
Number of Vietnam-era veterans in 2011 – or 35 percent of veterans
Number of veterans who served during the Gulf War and post 9/11 – or about 29 percent of current veterans
Number of home loans guaranteed by the VA since it established its home loan program in 1944 as part of the GI Bill. The home loan guaranties help servicemembers, veterans, reservists and surviving spouses obtain homes, condominiums, and manufactured homes, and to refinance loans. A VA guaranty helps protect lenders from loss if the borrower fails to repay the loan.
The VA’s budget request for 2013. It includes almost $64 billion in discretionary resources and nearly $76.4 billion in mandatory funding. The VA’s discretionary budget request represents an increase of $2.7 billion, or nearly 4.5 percent, over the 2012 enacted level.
What the Obama 2013 budget provides for a veterans employment and training service through the Dept. of Labor. This includes a transition assistance program and grants for employment services. It also expands entrepreneurship training for veterans and military families through a new $7 million Small Business Administration program to train up to 260,000 veterans annually.
What the Obama 2013 budget provides for veterans’ caregivers, including training adapted to veterans’ individual needs, direct stipend payments, and health care and mental health services.
What the Obama budget invests, approximately, to fight homelessness among veterans. The funds go to collaborative partnerships with local governments, non-profit organizations, and the Depts. of Housing and Urban Development, Justice, and Labor.
Number of states with 1 million or more veterans in 2011; these states were California (1.9 million), Florida (1.6 million) and Texas (1.6 million).
Annual median income of veterans, in 2011 inflation-adjusted dollars, compared with $25,811 for the population as a whole
Number of veterans aged 18 to 64 in the labor force last year
Number of veterans with a service-connected disability rating. Of these, 810,245 have a rating of 70 percent or higher (the severity of the disability is scaled from 0 to 100 percent – eligibility for compensation depends on the rating)
This article was updated at 8:30 p.m. on November 11, 2012. Sources: Census Bureau, OMB, Dept. of Veterans Affairs, Reuters.