Where Do Military Veterans Live?

Not far from where they served.

Stephanie Stamm, Brian Mcgill and Peter Bell
May 23, 2014, 8:54 a.m.

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
Roll over the map to find out more in­form­a­tion and click to zoom in.

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?

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