People who indicate that they had ever served on active duty in the past or were currently on active duty are asked to indicate the period or periods in which they served. Currently, there are 11 periods of service on the ACS questionnaire. Respondents are instructed to mark a box for each period in which they served, even if just for part of the period. The periods were determined by the Department of Veterans Affairs and generally alternate between peacetime and wartime, with a few exceptions. The responses to this question are edited for consistency and reasonableness. The edit eliminates inconsistencies between reported period(s) of service and age of the person; it also removes reported combinations of periods containing unreasonable gaps (for example, it will not accept a response that indicated the person had served in World War II and in the Vietnam era, but not in the Korean conflict).
Period of military service distinguishes veterans who served during wartime periods from those whose only service was during peacetime. Questions about period of military service provide necessary information to estimate the number of veterans who are eligible to receive specific benefits.
In 1999, 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."
For the 2003-2012 ACS, 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 Veterans 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."
Beginning in 2013, the period of military service question was revised to make the categories more meaningful to VA needs. The "September 1980 to July 1990" and "May 1975 to August 1980" categories were collapsed into "May 1975 to July 1990." The "March 1961 to July 1964" and "February 1955 to February 1961" categories were collapsed into "February 1955 to July 1964."
Limitation of the Data
There may be a tendency for people to mark the most recent period in which they served or the period in which they began their service, but not all periods in which they served.
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.
Since Census 2000, the period of military service categories on the ACS questionnaire were updated to: 1) include the most recent period "September 2001 or later;" 2) list all "peace time" periods without showing a date-breakup in the list; and 3) update the Korean War and World War II dates to match the official dates as listed in US Code, Title 38. While the response categories differ slightly from those in Census 2000, data from the two questions can still be compared to one another.
Due to an editing error, veteran's period of service (VPS) prior to 2007 was being incorrectly assigned for some individuals. The majority of the errors misclassified some people who reported only serving during the Vietnam Era as having served in the category "Gulf War and Vietnam Era." The remainder of the errors misclassified some people who reported only serving between the Vietnam Era and Gulf War as having served in the category "Gulf War."
The Group Quarters (GQ) population was included in the 2006 ACS and not included in prior years of ACS data, thus comparisons should be made only if the geographic area of interest does not include a substantial GQ population.
For comparisons to the Current Population Survey (CPS), please see "Comparison of ACS and ASEC Data on Veteran Status and Period of Military Service: 2007" on the ACS website (http://census.gov/acs