Veterans are men and women who have served (even for a short time), but are not currently 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 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 are classified as nonveterans.
While it is possible for 17 year olds to be veterans of the Armed Forces, ACS data products are restricted to the population 18 years and older.
Answers to this question provide specific information about veterans. Veteran status is used to identify people with active duty military service and service in the military Reserves and the National Guard. ACS data define civilian veteran as a person 18 years old and over who served (even for a short time), but is not now serving on acting duty in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard, or who served as a Merchant Marine seaman during World War II. Individuals who have training for Reserves or National Guard but no active duty service are not considered veterans in the ACS. These data are used primarily by the Department of Veterans Affairs to measure the needs of veterans.
Other uses include:
- Used at state and county levels to plan programs for medical and nursing home care for veterans.
- Used by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to plan the locations and sizes of veterans' cemeteries.
- Used by local agencies, under the Older Americans Act, to develop health care and other services for elderly veterans.
Used to allocate funds to states and local areas for employment and job training programs for veterans under the Job Training Partnership Act.