Which state has the largest and smallest number of veterans in the US and in which war or conflict did they serve?

Find out which states in the United States have the greatest number of veterans and which have the least, as well as the wars in which they participated.


The United States is home to millions of veterans who have served in various wars and conflicts throughout history. The distribution of these veterans varies significantly across states. This article explores which state has the largest and smallest number of veterans and identifies the wars or conflicts they served in.

States with the largest number of Veterans

California is the state with the largest number of veterans. As of recent data, California is home to approximately 1.5 million veterans. This substantial veteran population is due to the state’s large overall population and its significant military presence, including major bases like Camp Pendleton and the San Diego Naval Base.

The veterans in California have served in various conflicts, but the largest groups are from:

  • Vietnam War: Many veterans in California served during the Vietnam War era, reflecting the large-scale military involvement of the United States during the 1960s and 1970s.
  • Gulf War: Veterans from both the Gulf War (1990-1991) and the post-9/11 conflicts are also well-represented in California.
  • World War II and Korean War: Although their numbers are dwindling, there are still veterans from World War II and the Korean War residing in California.

States with the smallest number of Veterans

On the other end of the spectrum, Vermont has one of the smallest veteran populations in the United States, with around 34,900 veterans. This is reflective of Vermont’s smaller overall population and less extensive military infrastructure compared to larger states.

The veterans in Vermont have served in various conflicts, including:

  • Vietnam War: Similar to other states, a significant portion of Vermont’s veterans served during the Vietnam War.
  • Post-9/11 Conflicts: Veterans from the more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are also present in Vermont.
  • Korean War and World War II: There are still a few veterans from these earlier conflicts, though their numbers are much smaller.

Distribution of Veterans by war or conflict

The distribution of veterans by the wars or conflicts they served in provides insight into the historical military engagements of the United States. Here’s a breakdown of the major conflicts and the number of living veterans from each:

  • Vietnam War: The Vietnam War has the largest cohort of living veterans, with approximately 6.2 million veterans nationwide. This reflects the extensive U.S. involvement and the draft that brought many into service.
  • Gulf War: Veterans from the Gulf War era, including both the 1990-1991 conflict and the post-9/11 operations, make up a significant portion of the veteran population. There are about 7.8 million veterans from these conflicts.
  • World War II: The number of World War II veterans is rapidly declining due to age, with around 389,000 still living.
  • Korean War: There are approximately 767,000 veterans from the Korean War.

Factors influencing Veteran population distribution

Several factors influence the distribution of veterans across states:

  • Population size: States with larger populations, like California, Texas, and Florida, naturally have more veterans.
  • Military bases: States with significant military installations tend to have higher veteran populations due to the presence of active-duty personnel who retire in the area.
  • Economic opportunities: States with better economic opportunities and veteran services attract more veterans.

Veteran distribution across the U.S.

Understanding the distribution of veterans across the United States and the conflicts they served in provides valuable insights into the nation’s military history and the ongoing needs of its veteran population.

California, with its large population and extensive military infrastructure, has the highest number of veterans, while Vermont, with its smaller population, has one of the smallest. The majority of these veterans served in the Vietnam War, Gulf War, and post-9/11 conflicts, reflecting the significant military engagements of the past several decades.

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