Who are the Post-9/11 Veterans?

As of 2013, more than 2.6 million post-9/11 veterans have returned from active duty service and the Department of Veterans Affairs estimates this cohort will grow to nearly 3.5 million over the next 10 years. A News21 demographic analysis breaks down this cohort according to sex, age and education.

A demographic breakdown

To illustrate the demographic characteristics of the post-9/11 veterans, News21 has represented more than 2 million people with 100 circles. Each circle represents approximately 2,600 post-9/11 veterans, drawing from the U.S. Census Bureau 2011 American Community Survey.

By sex

The post-9/11 veteran cohort will perhaps be most recognized for redefining the role of females serving on active duty.

The line between non-combat and combat roles in Iraq and Afghanistan was eliminated in January 2013 when then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta lifted the ban on females in combat roles.

More than twice the percent than in the overall veteran population.

By race

Post-9/11 veterans are the most racially and ethnically diverse of all U.S. military cohorts.

By age

As of 2011, more than half of post-9/11 veterans were between the ages of 18 and 32 and less than 9 percent were older.


Post-9/11 veterans have about the same level of education as non-veterans. Of those who have completed high school, post-9/11 veterans are more likely to have some college but are less likely to have completed college or to have a master’s, professional or doctoral degree.

SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey one-year Public Use Microdata Sample from 2011, Department of Veterans Affairs report, “America’s Women Veterans,” from 2011.
CREDIT: Mauro Whiteman, Greg Kohn

Female veterans in previous conflicts

More female veterans will have served in Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn than in any single previous conflict, based on projected population numbers.

World War I
Korean War
Vietnam Era 7,000
Gulf War I 41,000
World War II