Veterans live in all but one of the 3,142 counties across the U.S., according to a recent data analysis ― only the smallest in the nation comes up short.
Kalawao County, Hawaii, had 88 residents in 2016, according to a U.S. Census Bureau estimate. The bureau said it also had a half-dozen veteran residents between 2012 and 2016, but according to an analysis conducted by Purdue University’s Military Family Research Institute, that number rested at zero in 2016.
Areas of that county were developed and used for more than 100 years for the quarantine and treatment of people with Hansen’s Disease, also known as leprosy, before a cure was developed.
Two Texas counties, Loving and King, had two or three veteran residents, based on data from the Veterans Affairs Department used by the researchers. Those counties had 113 and 289 residents, respectively, in 2016, per census figures.
The data analysis was conducted for a report released May 14: “Measuring Our Communities: The State of Military and Veteran Families in the United States.”
Researchers said these numbers are based on 2015-2016 data sources, so when 2017 data is released, it may show the population has shifted.
On the end of the spectrum sits Elmore County, Idaho, which leads the nation in number of veterans per capita at 45 percent of its approximately 27,000 residents. That’s even more impressive considering that the active-duty service members stationed at Mountain Home Air Force Base, located within the county, don’t count toward the veteran total.
More data points revealed by the study:
- The five states with the largest numbers of veterans are California, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania and New York.
- Between 2010 and 2016, Pinal County, Arizona, gained the most veterans of any county in the U.S., with an uptick of 17,122.
- Los Angeles County, California, lost the most veterans in that six-year period: 56,183, against a total population of more than 10.1 million.
Kalawao is by far the smallest of the five counties in Hawaii, taking up a small portion (about 12 square miles, per census data) of the island of Molokai, the state’s fifth-largest island.
(If you’re a veteran who lives there, or knows a veteran who does, let us know.)
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.