Data on veteran status and period of military service were derived from answers to Questions 20, 21 and 22.
For data products, a "civilian veteran" is a person 18 years old or over who has served (even for a short time), but is not now serving, on active duty in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or the Coast Guard, or who served in the U.S. Merchant Marine during World War II. People who served in the National Guard or military Reserves are classified as veterans only if they were ever called or ordered to active duty, not counting the 4-6 months for initial training or yearly summer camps. All other civilians 18 years old and over are classified as nonveterans.
Period of Military Service
People who indicated that they had served on active duty or were now on active duty were asked to indicate the period or periods in which they served. The responses to the question about period of service were edited for consistency and reasonableness. The edit eliminated inconsistencies between reported period(s) of service and age of the person; it also removed reported combinations of periods containing unreasonable gaps (for example, it did not accept a response that indicated that the person had served in World War II and in the Vietnam era, but not in the Korean conflict).
Years of Military Service
For the 1996-1998 American Community Survey, people who indicated that they had served on active duty or were now on active duty were asked to report the total number of years and months of active-duty service.
Since 1999, people who indicated that they had served on active duty or were now on active duty were asked to report whether the total number of years of active-duty service was less than 2 years or 2 years or more. The question asked for accumulated service, which is not necessarily the same as continuous service.
There may be a tendency for the following kinds of persons to report erroneously that they served on active duty in the Armed Forces: (a) persons who served in the National Guard or Military Reserves but were never called to duty; (b) civilian employees or volunteers for the USO, Red Cross, or the Department of Defense (or its predecessors, the Department of War and the Department of the Navy); and (c) employees of the Merchant Marine or Public Health Service. There may also be a tendency for persons to erroneously round up months to the nearest year in Question 22. (For example, persons with one year and eight months of active duty military service may mistakenly report "2 years.")
Beginning in 2006, the population in group quarters (GQ) is included in the ACS. Some types of GQ populations may have period of military service and veteran status distributions that are different from the household population. The inclusion of the GQ population could therefore have a noticeable impact on the period of service and veteran status distributions. This is particularly true for areas with a substantial GQ population.
Veteran Status:For the 1999-2002 American Community Survey question, the response categories were modified by expanding the "No active duty service" answer category to distinguish persons whose only military service was for training in the Reserves or National Guard, from persons with no military experience whatsoever.
Period of Military Service:For the 1999-2002 American Community Survey question, the response categories were modified by closing the "August 1990 or later (including Persian Gulf War)" period at March 1995, and adding the "April 1995" or later category. For the 2001-2002 American Community Survey question, the response category was changed from "Korean conflict" to "Korean War." Starting in 2003, the response categories for the question were modified in several ways. The first category "April 1995 or later" was changed to "September 2001 or later" to reflect the era that began after the events of September 11, 2001; the second category "August 1990 to March 1995" was then expanded to "August 1990 to August 2001 (including Persian Gulf War)." The category "February 1955 to July 1964" was split into two categories: "March 1961 to July 1964" and "February 1955 to February 1961." To match the revised dates for war-time periods of the Department of Veteran Affairs, the dates for the "World War II" category were changed from "September 1940 to July 1947" to "December 1941 to December 1946," and the dates for the "Korean War were changed from "June 1950 to January 1955" to "July 1950 to January 1955." To increase specificity, the "Some other time" category was split into two categories: "January 1947 to June 1950" and "November 1941 or earlier."