Skip Navigation ID US logo

ID Our Heritage

American Veterans

Identifying those who have fought to defend our freedom

There are approximately 20 million veterans in the United States. Beginning in 2016, veterans of the Gulf War Era became the largest cohort of veterans in the country.

In January 2016, 39,471 veterans were experiencing homelessness. Another 1.4 million veterans may be “considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing.” In the same year, 453,000 veterans were unemployed, the majority of whom were aged 45 or over.

As of August 2015, about 4.3 million veterans, or 20% of the total, had a service-connected disability. Veterans with a service-connected disability had an unemployment rate of 4.8%, which was about the same as veterans with no disability.

A 2013 survey found that Native American and Alaska Native veterans had lower personal incomes than veterans of other races, and that they were more likely to lack health insurance and to have a disability, service-connected or otherwise, than veterans of other races.

Between 2011 and 2015, there were about 5 million (24.1 percent) U.S. veterans 18 years and older lived in areas designated as rural. The poverty rate for all rural veterans was 6.9%. In 2013, 69% of urban households and 14% of rural households had access to public transit. The need for public transportation in rural areas has “historically been linked with providing mobility and accessibility to essential employment, goods, and services for older adults, persons with disabilities, low-income persons, and others.” 

Once military personnel become civilians, they may be eligible for a Veteran Health Identification Card, which may be used at VA appointments, or depending on their length of service, a DoD Civilian Retiree Card. The VHIC and Retiree cards may be used to establish identity when applying for another type of government-issued photo identification.

In 2017 the application process for the national Veterans Identification Card (VIC) became available. The VIC is open to those with honorable service and will provide proof of military service, however the “identification cannot be used as proof of eligibility to any federal benefits and does not grant access to military installations.”