But for younger veterans, the trend has reversed. Veterans of the First and Second Gulf Wars are slightly more likely to live in cities than in rural areas, based on the relative population of urban counties.
Nationally, about 8 percent of the U.S. population ages 18 and older are veterans, using American Community Survey data from 2012-2016.
In rural areas, veterans make up 9.6 percent of that population, while in metropolitan areas, they make up 7.7 percent. That’s makes the rural service rate about 20 percent higher than the urban one.
In Huron County, 8.8 percent of the population 18 and older are veterans. While higher than the national average, the county percentage is lower than the average for rural areas and is also lower than that of surrounding counties.
According to 2012-2016 data compiled in the Atlas of Rural and Small-Town America, the percentage of veterans in the population of surrounding counties is as follows: Erie, home of the Ohio Veterans Home, has the highest percentage of veterans at 11.1 percent; Lorain, 9.2; Ashland, 9.1; Richland, 10; Crawford, 10.5; Seneca, 9.3; and Sandusky, 9.1. The Atlas of Rural and Small-Town America is a reference tool produced by the Economic Research Service of the Department of Agriculture
In Huron County, 37 percent of the veterans served during the Vietnam War; 18.4 percent served in the first Gulf War. Just 4.3 percent served in during the World War II era.
Rural America’s disproportionate share of veterans comes from older military personnel – those who served during the Vietnam and Korean eras. About half of all rural veterans served during those wars, while only about 45 percent of urban veterans served then.
The declining number of World War II-era veterans account for slightly less than 6 percent of the population in both rural and urban counties.
For the two Gulf wars, which began in 1990 and 2003, respectively, the urban and rural proportions are reversed. More than a third of urban veterans served during those wars, while only about a quarter of rural veterans served during those periods.
The trend isn’t surprising when you consider that the average age is higher in rural areas. If veterans follow the same age trends as the rest of rural America, they are more likely to have served during older eras.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Daily Yonder contributed to this report.