Interesting Veterans Day Facts

Vet wearing backpack and camo huging child

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On Veterans Day, Americans honor all living military veterans, including the many working moms who are veterans of military service as well as those who gave their lives for their country. 

Here are some other Veterans Day facts you may not know.

How Veterans Day Began

Veterans Day is always observed on November 11th with speeches and parades across the United States. When the holiday first began, it had a different name, which was Armistice Day. Here is how the day has progressed over time:

  • It was first celebrated on November 11, 1919, which was the first anniversary of the end of World War I.
  • In 1926, Congress passed a resolution for an annual observance.
  • In 1938, November 11th became a national holiday.
  • In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation changing the name to Veterans Day in order to honor veterans of all American wars. The day is to honor those who have died fighting as well as those who survived.
  • In 1968, the Uniform Holidays Bill was passed by Congress, which moved Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. The law went into effect in 1971 but reverted back to November 11th in 1975 by President Ford because of the important historical significance the date held.

Veterans by the Numbers

There were 19.3 million military veterans in the U.S. in 2014. Of those:

  • 1.6 million were female
  • 11.4 percent were African American.
  • 78.9 percent were non-Hispanic white
  • 6.1 percent were Hispanic
  • 9.4 million were 65 and older
  • 1.7 million were younger than 35

Veterans by the War

Thirty-five percent of all living veterans served during the Vietnam War. In 2009, there were:

  • 7.0 million Vietnam-era veterans. (1964-1975)
  • 5.5 million Gulf War veterans. (August 1990 to present)
  • 1.1 million World War II veterans. (1941-1945)
  • 2.0 million veterans of the Korean War. (1950-1953)
  • 62,544 living veterans who served during the Vietnam War and both periods of the Gulf War (August 1990 to August 2001 and September 2001 or later).
  • 4.4 million who served in peacetime only.

Veterans in the Work Force

7.4 million veterans were in the civilian labor force in 2014 and 7.0 million of them were employed.

Women veterans earned $31,810 in 2014, more than the $21,804 earned by female civilians with no military experience.

Male veterans earned $37,307 in 2014, more than the $32,433 earned by male civilians with no military service.

9.2 percent of the U.S. non-farm firms were owned by veterans. Veteran-owned firms comprised an estimated 2.5 million of the 27.6 million non-farm businesses nationwide in 2012. 

Veterans' Income, Education, and Disability

27.5 percent of veterans who were 25 and older held at least a bachelor's degree compared to 30.3 percent non-veterans.

3.8 million veterans suffered from a "service-connected disability" in 2014. This type of disability is when a soldier gets injured or aggravates an injury while on duty or suffered from a disease that results in a disability.

Veterans More Likely to Vote

14.7 million veterans voted in the 2012 presidential election. That's 70 percent of all veterans, compared with 60.9 percent of non-veterans.

11.5 million veterans voted in the 2006 congressional election. That's 54 percent of all veterans, compared with only 41 percent of civilians with no military service.

How to Say Thank You to a Veteran on Veteran's Day

"Thank you for your service."

"Thank you for stepping up when others took a step back."

"Thank you for delaying your personal plans so that you could serve our country." 

"Thank you for sacrificing so much, like being away from your friends and family so that you could keep them and the rest of us safe from harm."

"Thank you for all you've done and for what you continue to do. We are all safer because of your actions."

"Thank you."

Updated by Elizabeth McGrory