Earlier today, a friend on Facebook questioned the assertion in an Onion-style article that Millennials comprised “the overwhelming majority of the 2.5 million American veterans” who have taken part in the wars fought since 9/11. Because I’d rather prove myself wrong than argue without evidence, I decided to look up the numbers.
How many vets?
First off, let’s establish how many veterans we can say there are in the US that fit the criteria of serving in the Global War on Terror. From this source at the Census Bureau, I’d calculate that in 2014 there were 2,954,590 veterans who served from 2001 to the present, plus or minus 47,174. Other sources I’ve seen peg the number closer to 2.5 million, and I’m tempted to take the lower numbers; just because a soldier served after 2001 doesn’t mean that soldier was necessarily a part of the conflicts we’re interested in, but we’ll take the higher number, which we’ll round up to 3 million.
How many Millennial vets?
There are a couple sources on the Census Bureau for this, but the best one links to data that shows about 1.7 million Millennial vets in 2014. Easy-peasy.
This leads us to some pretty easy math, as 1.7 million Millennial vets out of 3 million total vets is about 57%, which is a clear majority. Is it overwhelming? I wouldn’t say so, but remember, that article referenced a total of 2.5 million vets from the Global War on Terror. As I said earlier, I think it’s entirely reasonable to use that number given the number of decent sources for it, which would give us 68%, which I would call an overwhelming majority. If I were Politifact, I’d rate this as “mostly true”.