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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What sources of data are available from the U.S. Census Bureau about veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces?
  2. Where can I access data and data products related to veterans from the U.S. Census Bureau?
  3. Where can I find historical information on questions asked about veterans?
  4. Where can I find historical data on veterans?
  5. When did the U.S. Census Bureau start asking veteran status questions of women?
  6. Where can I find information on service-connected disabilities?
  7. Which demographic characteristics of veterans are available in published tables?
  8. Are there any U.S. Census Bureau surveys that can distinguish veterans by military rank, length of service, or retirement?
  9. How are current U.S. service members counted in the American Community Survey (ACS)?
  10. How are current U.S. servicemembers counted in the decennial census?
  11. How are current U.S. service members counted in other surveys?
  12. Where can I find information about the general demographic characteristics of the U.S. military?
  13. Where can I find information about those serving in the U.S. Armed Forces and their families?
  14. Where can I find information on veterans living in the U.S. Island Areas?
  15. Where can I find estimates of Vietnam-era veterans who served “in country”?

What sources of data are available from the U.S. Census Bureau about veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces?  back to top

Data on veterans are collected on the American Community Survey (ACS), the Current Population Survey (CPS), the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), and in decennial censuses prior to 2010.


Where can I access data and data products related to veterans from the U.S. Census Bureau?  back to top

The American Factfinder tool can be used to access data products, such as detailed tables, subject tables, and maps, from the 1990 and 2000 decennial censuses and from the 2000 and later American Community Survey (ACS). Users can quickly find the available products related to veterans by using the “by subject” or “by keyword” search features.

In the 2004 ACS tables, a new table naming convention was introduced. Each type of table now includes a topic ID in the table number. Veterans’ products are distinguished by topic ID ‘21’. For example, detailed table B21002 and subject table S2101 cover veterans’ topics.

Microdata users frequently want to look at relationships among variables not shown in the standard products offered by the Census Bureau. These users can use American Factfinder to download the Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) files. The advantage of PUMS is that data users can tabulate data according to the characteristics they want or need to know about.

Another source of data is Data Ferrett. Data Ferrett is a tool and data librarian that searches and retrieves data across federal, state, and local surveys, executes customized variable recoding, creates complex tabulations and business graphics. Data on veterans are available from the Current Population Survey (CPS), Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), and American Community Survey (ACS). Data from the CPS Veterans Supplement are available in Data Ferrett from 1995 to the present.


Where can I find historical information on questions asked about veterans?  back to top

Historical information on questions asked about veteran status in U.S. Census Bureau surveys can be accessed through the history of veterans status page, which can also be found under the “About Veterans” tab.

The Census History webpage has links to historical information about the decennial census including all questions and questionnaires since the first Census in 1790. Once on the Census History main page, click the ‘Through the Decades’ tab and choose either ‘Index of Questions’ for a listing of all questions or click ‘Questionnaires’ for scanned images of all questionnaires. Another resource for historical information on the decennial census is a comprehensive document entitled “Measuring America: The Decennial Census from 1790-2000.” The historical questionnaires for the American Community Survey (ACS), Current Population Survey (CPS), and Survey of Income Participation (SIPP) are available on their websites.


Where can I find historical data on veterans?  back to top

Historical data on veterans from the decennial census can be found in the data section of this website, as well as on the main U.S. Census Bureau website under the Census of Population and Housing section.


When did the U.S. Census Bureau start asking veteran status questions of women?  back to top

The decennial census has been asking questions about veteran status since 1890, excluding the years 1900 and 1920. The 1980 decennial census marked the first time that information on women veterans had ever been gathered in a national survey, changing the wording of the question from “If this is a man…” to “Has this person…” ever served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

The Current Population Survey (CPS) has been asking questions about veterans since the 1940s, but it did not begin to collect data on the veteran status of women until 1984.

Veteran status questions have been asked of everyone 15 years and older since the 1983 panel of the Survey of Program Participation (SIPP).


Where can I find information on service-connected disabilities?  back to top

In 2008, two new questions about service-connected disability status and ratings were added to the American Community Survey (ACS). These questions are asked of all people who indicate they had previously served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, Reserves, or National Guard, they had trained with the Reserves or National Guard, or they were currently on active duty. Tables B21100 and C21100 are available through American Factfinder.

Information about compensation for service-connected disabilities is available from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in the Annual Benefits Report.


Which demographic characteristics of veterans are available in published tables?  back to top

ACS:  Since 2004, the detailed tables on veterans from the ACS include the following topics: race and Hispanic origin, period of military service, educational attainment, median income, employment status, disability status, and poverty status. Starting in 2008, tables on service-connected disability status and ratings were added to the ACS data products. Data users interested in other characteristics available from the ACS--such as marital status, school enrollment, migration, or home ownership--can use Data Ferrett or the Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) files to tabulate their own analyses on such topics.

CPS:  Information on the voting and registration rates of veterans, by selected characteristics, is available for Presidential and Congressional elections since 2000. Tables 15a through 15d of the detailed table packages can be found in the Voting and Registration section.

SIPP:  There are currently no published tables on veterans’ topics from the SIPP.


Are there any U.S. Census Bureau surveys that can distinguish veterans by military rank, length of service, or retirement?  back to top

No. The questions asked of veterans on current U.S. Census Bureau surveys are veteran status (Have you ever served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces?), period of military service (When did you serve?), and, on the American Community Survey (ACS), service-connected disability status and ratings.

In the 1990 and 2000 decennial censuses and the 2000 through 2007 American Community Surveys, there was a question that asked whether the veterans’ active duty service was less than 2 years or 2 years or more. This question was intended to be used by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to determine eligibility for certain benefits. The question was removed in the 2008 ACS as the VA no longer needed this information.


How are current U.S. service members counted in the American Community Survey (ACS)?  back to top

For the American Community Survey (ACS), residency in housing units is determined using the concept of "current residence." Current residence is defined as everyone who is living at the sampled housing unit for more than two months. This means that their expected length of stay is more than two months, not that they have been staying in the housing unit for more than two months. Persons away from their residence for two months or less, whether in the United States or overseas, on a vacation or on a business trip, are considered to still be "in residence" at the sample unit and the unit is classified as occupied. Persons away from their residence for more than two months are considered not to be in residence. For the ACS, if no one is determined to be a current resident in the sampled housing unit, it is classified as "vacant."

If anyone listed on the household roster is away from the sample unit for more than two months, including someone in the military, they should not be included on the form.


How are current U.S. servicemembers counted in the decennial census?  back to top

In the 2010 Census, residency in housing units is determined using the concept of "usual residence." Usual residence is defined as the place where a person lives and sleeps most of the time. This place is not necessarily the same as the person's voting residence or legal residence.

If someone in a household, such as a spouse, adult child, or a roommate, is living away from home at the time of the census because they are in the military (either stateside or overseas) they are not to be included on the census form. They are counted using other census operations.

Members of the military receive a census form at their military installation or on a military ship. Federally affiliated military and civilians (and their dependents living with them), who are living outside the United States, are counted in the census. These types of people are counted in the census using the government’s administrative records. They will not receive a census form and should not be included on any census form mailed to a U.S. residence.

The 2010 Residence Rule and Residence Situations.


How are current U.S. service members counted in other surveys?  back to top

Only the civilian noninstitutionalized household and group quarters population is interviewed for the Current Population Survey (CPS). The group quarters population is classified as institutional or noninstitutionalized and as military or civilian. CPS targets only the civilian noninstitutionalized population residing in group quarters. Military and institutional group quarters are included in the group quarters frame and given a chance of selection in case of conversion to civilian noninstitutionalized housing by the time it is scheduled for interview. Current members of the military are also not eligible for the labor force questions in the CPS.

The Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC) sample universe is slightly different from that in the CPS. The CPS completely excludes military personnel while the ASEC includes military personnel who live in households with at least one other civilian adult.

The universe for the Survey of Program Participation (SIPP) is the resident population of the United States, excluding persons living in institutions and military barracks. SIPP does not interview original sample members if they move outside the United States, become members of the military living in barracks, or become institutionalized (e.g., nursing home residents, prison inmates).


Where can I find information about the general demographic characteristics of the U.S. military?  back to top

The U.S. Census Bureau does not publish any tables of the characteristics of members of the U.S. military. Data users can use Data Ferrett or the Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) file to produce their own tabulations.

Other sources of statistics on the military population are available at the following:
Where can I find information about those serving in the U.S. Armed Forces and their families?  back to top

The U.S. Census Bureau does not publish any tables of the members of the U.S. military and their families. Data users can use Data Ferrett or the Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) file to produce their own tabulations.

Other sources of statistics on military families are available at the following:
Where can I find information on veterans living in the U.S. Island Areas?  back to top

Census 2010 conducted a long-form survey, including questions about veterans, in the U.S. Island Areas. Tables are available in American Factfinder.


Where can I find estimates of Vietnam-era veterans who served “in country”?  back to top

A general question about veterans’ period of military service is included on the American Community Survey (ACS), Current Population Survey (CPS), and the Survey of Program Participation (SIPP). This question only asks if the veteran served during the Vietnam era, but it does not specify whether or not that service was “in country.” Any veteran who served between August 1964 and April 1975 would be counted as a Vietnam-era veteran.

The Veteran Supplement of the CPS includes the following more detailed question: [(Were you)/(Was he/she)] on active duty in Vietnam, Laos, or Cambodia; in the waters in or around these countries; or fly missions over these areas at any time between August 5, 1964 and May 7, 1975?

Data from the CPS Veteran Supplement are available through Data Ferrett.



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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Veterans |  Last Revised: 2013-08-21T09:05:25.854-04:00