Young Americans enlist in the armed services for many reasons, including the opportunity to gain new skills, get physically fit, and earn financial assistance to pay for college. One of the most common reasons, however, is to serve the country. On top of the more than 1.4 million active-duty service members in the military, the United States is home to over 17.8 million veterans.
The sacrifices veterans have made for the country often follow them long after their service. Nearly half of those who served after the terror attacks of 9/11 say they had an emotionally traumatic or distressing experience while serving, and about one in four of all veterans say readjusting to civilian life was at least somewhat difficult, according to a Pew Research study.
Still, the same study also found that over half of all veterans say their service provided them with useful skills and training for the civilian job market, and that veterans are less likely to live in poverty and more likely to have higher incomes than their non-veteran counterparts.
The Sumter metro area, located in South Carolina, is home to a higher concentration of military veterans than the average across the country. There are an estimated 12,505 civilians living in the metro area with a background of military service, or 11.9% of the local adult population. Nationwide, just 7.1% of the civilian adult population are veterans.
It is important to note that while many veterans chose to enlist out of a sense of patriotic duty, many living veterans did not choose to serve and were drafted into service during the Vietnam War. In Sumter, those whose period of service is confined to the Vietnam Era account for 27.3% of the total veteran population. Another 18.3% of veterans in the metro area enlisted after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
All data in this story are five-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey.
RankMetro areaCivilian adults who have served (%)Total number of veteransVeterans who enlisted after 9/11 (%)Veterans who served in Vietnam only (%)1Hinesville, GA21.911,30735.510.22Jacksonville, NC21.524,00538.513.43Killeen-Temple, TX21.064,36629.114.34Sierra Vista-Douglas, AZ19.418,52013.328.15Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, FL19.039,23817.122.66Clarksville, TN-KY17.836,24429.516.77Lawton, OK17.615,58222.820.38Fayetteville, NC17.260,97026.716.59Colorado Springs, CO17.089,82922.720.010Fairbanks, AK16.511,18831.820.011Bremerton-Silverdale-Port Orchard, WA16.332,54015.626.912Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC16.0207,17421.919.613The Villages, FL15.518,6472.048.214Elizabethtown-Fort Knox, KY15.417,23517.823.715Panama City, FL15.321,20914.325.716New Bern, NC15.214,02317.727.617Great Falls, MT15.19,18323.124.318Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL15.056,55015.325.919Warner Robins, GA14.919,92013.822.520Homosassa Springs, FL14.618,3625.742.621Cheyenne, WY14.410,59217.424.722Lake Havasu City-Kingman, AZ14.325,0506.443.123Columbus, GA-AL13.932,23920.323.824Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL13.866,5199.831.025Prescott Valley-Prescott, AZ13.726,6769.642.726California-Lexington Park, MD13.611,41115.520.027Punta Gorda, FL13.421,9864.841.728Watertown-Fort Drum, NY13.29,82931.419.529Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater, WA13.128,58617.727.330Anchorage, AK12.937,35721.624.031Gulfport-Biloxi, MS12.839,68016.726.332Dover, DE12.817,24214.928.033Goldsboro, NC12.811,69916.024.334Manhattan, KS12.611,49634.518.935Rapid City, SD12.513,28315.429.036Ocala, FL12.336,1496.436.937Grants Pass, OR12.38,6389.539.238Jacksonville, FL12.1142,11115.924.639Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC12.054,77018.028.140Wichita Falls, TX11.913,25622.925.841Sumter, SC11.912,50518.327.342Hilton Head Island-Bluffton, SC11.820,39712.434.043Sebastian-Vero Beach, FL11.715,3624.437.344Sebring-Avon Park, FL11.510,0263.137.045Longview, WA11.39,4689.738.346Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL11.260,76110.136.347Daphne-Fairhope-Foley, AL11.219,17410.940.648Charleston-North Charleston, SC11.067,05815.826.749Huntsville, AL11.039,80415.124.650Mount Vernon-Anacortes, WA10.910,74413.634.1