A rural Texas congressional district with an average July temperature of 95 degrees isn’t the first place most Americans would consider a retirement destination, but veterans flock to the 31st District.
Veterans make up about a fifth of the adult population in only a handful of congressional districts. But these places aren’t all typical retiree havens like Arizona and Florida. They are places like Washington state, Virginia, and central Texas, too. Why?
Consider that the military’s average age at retirement in fiscal 2012 was 49. Many service members retire in their early 40s after 20 years of service, and they still have decades of their working lives left. Because many of the districts with the highest concentration of veterans also contain the nation’s largest military installations, that suggests that many middle-aged veterans remain in the communities where they were stationed.
Veterans as a percentage of adults, by current congressional district
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Texas’s 31st District is a prime example: 16 percent of adults there are veterans, and it’s home to Fort Hood, the biggest military base in the country. Another case in point is Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District, where almost 20 percent of adults are veterans, the highest proportion of any district. That makes sense, considering that almost a quarter of the nation’s uniformed military personnel are stationed in the Norfolk and Hampton Roads region, according to the Almanac of American Politics.
Other hot spots for veterans include Colorado’s 5th District (18.5 percent of the adult population), Florida’s 1st District (16.6 percent), and Washington state’s 6th District (16.5 percent). These places are each home to an array of military installations. House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller represents Florida’s 1st Congressional District. The committee’s No. 2 Republican, Doug Lamborn, represents Colorado’s 5th District.
But military bases aren’t these districts’ only appeal to veterans. Some are places of great natural beauty. Who wouldn’t want to retire to Washington’s scenic Olympic Peninsula, the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies, or the Gulf Coast of Florida?