St. Clair County home to largest percentage of veterans in SE Michigan

Next weekend is the Fourth of July, so it’s a good to seek understanding of the veterans in Southeastern Michigan. The map below shows veterans as a percentage of the civilian population in the seven-county region in 2013. According to American Community Survey (ACS) five-year estimates, at the county level, St. Clair County had the highest percentage of veterans in 2013 (10.2%) while Washtenaw County had the lowest (6.1%). Broken down by municipality, the highest percentage of veterans were found in Lake Angelus in Oakland County (16.6%) and the lowest in Hamtramck in Wayne County (2.9%).

Nationally, veterans make up about 9.0 percent of the civilian population over 18. Michigan is average in this regard – veterans make up about 8.9 percent of the civilian population over 18 in the state.

In addition to recording whether or not a respondent served in the armed forces, the ACS further notes what era they served, with data available for five specific time periods: Gulf War II (defined as September 2001 and later), Gulf War I (August 1990 to August 2001), Vietnam War (August 1964 through April 1975), Korean War (September 1950 through January 1955), and World War II (December 1941 to December 1946).

For the state of Michigan as a whole, those who served during Gulf War II make up 7.1 percent of the total veteran population, those who served during Gulf War I make up 12.5 percent, Vietnam veterans make up 36.5 percent, Korean War veterans make up 12.1 percent, and those who served during WWII comprise 9.7 percent of veterans. (This does not add up to 100%, since there are many others who served outside of these specific time periods.) The maps below show the percentage of the veteran population by municipality who served in these various conflicts.


According to National ACS 5-year estimates (2013), there was an adult civilian population of 236.5 million (adult meaning 18 years and over, civilian excluding active-duty service members et al.), and of that, 21.2 million were veterans = ~8.96%.

According to ACS 5-year estimates for the state of Michigan (2013), there was an adult civilian population of 7,577,743, of which 672,213 were veterans = ~8.87%.

Below is a chart listing the municipality in each county from which the highest percentage of the veterans served during each conflict. The percentages are of the total veteran population in that municipality for the period of conflict it is listed in.

One item of note is that although Hamtramck had the lowest percentage of veterans in their population, it had the highest percentage of Gulf War I veterans in Wayne County. This may be a product of refugees from Gulf countries that participated in that war. Similarly, although Washtenaw County as a whole has a low percentage of vets, Chelsea has a high percentage – with nearly half of all Chelsea veterans serving during either World War II or the most recent conflicts in the Middle East. Other clusters with a high percentage of vets across all eras include Memphis (St. Clair/Macomb counties) and the Orchard Lake/Sylvan Lake/Lake Angelus area of Oakland County.

The data presented in this post can be useful when planning specific outreach programs for veterans based on age or time period of service.