Non-Clinical Topics   /   News

Increasing Concentration of Veterans in Rural Areas Poses Challenges for VA

USM By U.S. Medicine
January 11, 2013

Most Vets Now Settle in Only a Few States
BELLINGHAM, WA — Changing demographics for veterans in the United States, with most now settling in the South and the Southwest, often in rural areas, has potentially profound implications for how and where VA offers services. It also raises questions about the future of the broad base of political support that traditionally has existed for veterans’ healthcare.

Those concerns were underscored by a recent study which graphically illustrates the growing divide between veterans and civilians who have never served. Research by Jay Teachman, PhD, of Western Washington University indicates that, as the total number of veterans in the United States declined over the past three decades, the veteran population increasingly concentrated in rural counties.1


pencil_white.jpgOpinion poll:
With changing demographics of veterans, does VA offer a full range of services where beneficiaries actually live?

Please click here to participate in this month’s U.S. Medicine readership poll.


According to the study published in Armed Forces & Society, veterans tended to gravitate to rural areas with large military installations in states such as Arizona, Florida, North Carolina and Texas.

Two factors primarily drive this migration, Teachman told U.S. Medicine.

“Oftentimes, these are the areas where veterans were recruited from initially. We know the largest number of recruits come from the Mountain West and South, and that’s where they tend to return,” he noted.

In addition, larger bases “offer settings veterans are more familiar and comfortable with — and where it is easier to obtain services and benefits,” Teachman said.

This might result in a continued shift of veterans’ services in tandem with military bases.

As former Defense Secretary Robert Gates noted in a 2010 speech at Duke University in Durham, NC, about the military-civilian divide, a significant percentage of Army personnel are now concentrated in Texas, Washington, Georgia, Kentucky and North Carolina.

“Studies have shown that one of the biggest factors in propensity to join the military is growing up near those who have or are serving,” Gates said. “In this country, that propensity to serve is most pronounced in the South and the Mountain West, and in rural areas and small towns nationwide — a propensity that well exceeds these communities’ portion of the population as a whole.”

Many military installations in the Northeast and West Coast have been shuttered, while other branches have seen similar consolidation, he added.

Related Articles

How Veterans Feel About Remote Management of Their Care

While implantable devices have shown promise in reducing rehospitalization for heart failure (HF), VA researchers sought to determine if options that are less expensive and non-invasive would have comparable results.

Legislation: Clinicians Must Be Involved in Formulary Design, Purchasing

Legislation to prevent VA from outsourcing creation of its drug formulary and to require more input from medical professions is being considered in Congress.

U.S. Medicine Recommends

More From department of defense dod

Department of Defense (DoD)

High Rate of Pectoralis Tears Among Deployed Servicemembers Lifting Weights

Lifting weights is one way servicemembers keep in peak physical condition during deployment.

Department of Defense (DoD)

DoD Study Finds That Type 2 Diabetes Increases Breast Cancer Mortality

Having Type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM-2) increases mortality risk in breast cancer patients, regardless of whether diabetes was diagnosed before or after breast cancer, according to a recent study.

Department of Defense (DoD)

Now Hear This: Otolaryngologist Leads Effort to Prevent Auditory Issues

Among those who are exposed to combat, it’s the weapons fire that does it. In the Navy, it’s the noise levels in engine rooms and on the decks of carriers.

Department of Defense (DoD)

GAO: ‘Gaps’ in MHS Physician Specialties Could Affect Wartime Readiness

WASHINGTON — The military services need to develop “targeted and coordinated strategies” to alleviate military physician gaps, a recent report recommended.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA Vows to Meet Deadline for Revamp of Veteran Claims Appeal Process

WASHINGTON—VA has told legislators that the agency is on track with a new law that will give veterans more options to have their claims appeals reviewed.

Facebook Comment

Subscribe to U.S. Medicine Print Magazine

U.S. Medicine is mailed free each month to physicians, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and administrators working for Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense and U.S. Public Health Service.

Subscribe Now

Receive Our Email Newsletter

Stay informed about federal medical news, clinical updates and reports on government topics for the federal healthcare professional.

Sign Up