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  • Writer's pictureCathy Hertler

What Is Veterans Day?

Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. Unlike Memorial Day, Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans—living or dead—but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.

When Is Veterans Day?

  • Veterans Day occurs on November 11 every year in the United States.

  • In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower officially changed the name of the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.

  • In 1968, the Uniform Holidays Bill was passed by Congress, which moved the celebration of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. The law went into effect in 1971, but in 1975 President Gerald Ford returned Veterans Day to November 11, due to the important historical significance of the date.

  • Great Britain, France, Australia and Canada also commemorate the veterans of World War I and World War II on or near November 11th: Canada has Remembrance Day, while Britain has Remembrance Sunday (the second Sunday of November).

  • In Europe, Great Britain and the Commonwealth countries it is common to observe two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. every November 11.

Veterans Today

The military men and women who serve and protect the U.S. come from all walks of life; they are parents, children, grandparents, friends, neighbors and coworkers, and are an important part of their communities. Here are some facts about the veteran population of the United States:

  • 17.4 million veterans in the United States.

  • 12.3% of veterans are women.

  • 7 million veterans served during the Vietnam War.

  • 5.5 million veterans served during the Persian Gulf War.

  • Of the 16 million Americans who served during World War II, about 325,574 are still alive as of 2020.

  • 2 million veterans served during the Korean War.

  • 6 million veterans served in peacetime.

  • As of 2018, 4.7 million veterans received compensation for service-connected disabilities.

  • As of 2019, the top 3 states with the highest percentage of veterans among their population: Alaska, Wyoming & Virginia.

  • The VA health care system had 54 hospitals in 1930, since then it has expanded to include 170 medical centers; more than 1,074 outpatient, community, and outreach clinics.

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