Percentage of Women Veterans Increases

The percentage of rural veterans who are women has more than doubled since the First Gulf War, according to the Economic Research Service. As the male veteran population continues to age, most women veterans in rural America fall into younger age groups.


USDA Economic Research Service

Three quarters of female veterans who live in rural areas are aged 64 or younger. Less than half of male veterans who live in rural areas are aged 64 or younger.

An increasing percentage of rural America’s veterans are women, reports the USDA’s Economic Research Service.

From the end of the First Gulf War to the present, the percentage of rural veterans who are female more than doubled, from 3 to 6.3 percent.

Nationally, since the change from a conscription-based military to all-volunteer armed forces, the percentage of women in the service has grown seven fold, from 2 percent in 1973 to more than 14 percent in 2013.

Because the increase in the number of women serving in the armed forces has occurred in more recent years, rural female veterans tend to be younger than male veterans, on a percentage basis.

The ERS reports:

Over 40 percent of rural female veterans served during Gulf Wars I and II (2003-2011), compared with less than 5 percent of rural male veterans, reflecting a more youthful rural female veteran population. In 2013, 55 percent of rural female veterans were under the age of 55 compared to 26 percent of rural male veterans.

The chart above from ERS shows the percentage of male and female rural veterans by age groups.

Three quarters of rural female veterans are 64 or younger. Less than half of male rural veterans fall in that age group.

Rural Americans (male and female) are disproportionately represented in armed services. About 11% of rural residents (or 4 million people) are veterans, while nationally about 9% of the population are veterans.

The map below, reprinted from last year’s Veterans Day edition of the Daily Yonder, shows the percentage of population in each nonmetropolitan county who are veterans – both male and female.

[imgcontainer][img: vetsmap2014-2.png][source]Atlas of Rural and Small-Town America — Economic Research Service

The map shows the percentage of the general population that are veterans aged 18 and older. Darker counties have higher percentages of veterans. Click the map to make it interactive and explore county-level data for both metropolitan and rural counties.