Honoring the 30th Anniversary of the Gulf War

Reciprocating Veterans' Service with Service

Pre-9/11 Gulf War Era Veterans

On this thirtieth anniversary of the Gulf War the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) wishes to recognize Veterans who served during that war and prior to September 11, 2001 (1). Over 695,000 service members were deployed, while 2.2 million were in service during the war (1990-1991), known as Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield (2).  As of 2019, there were nearly 5 million living Veterans in the cohort (3), of whom 2.7 million served exclusively during the Pre-9/11 time period (4).
In the spirit of VA's commitment to serve Veterans the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics gathered data to explore the extent to which Veterans in this cohort have used their earned VA benefits and services, and directs all Veterans to available resources and services.

Trends in Use of VA Programs

VA provides 22 benefits or services to Veterans, which can be grouped into eight programs. The charts below show the trends in number and percent of Pre-9/11 Gulf War Era Veteran users by program by federal fiscal year (FY).
In 2006 VA began tracking the number and percentage of Veterans who had participated in each program that year or beyond. This chart shows the percentages of living Pre-9/11 Gulf War Era Veterans who had participated in each program since 2006, by fiscal year (5).


  • There have been notable sustained increases in the number of Veterans in the cohort who have benefited from the Disability Compensation, Health Care and Home Loan Guaranty programs in terms of both number of users in any given year and percentage who participated in the programs since 2006.
  • In 2019 about 2.8 million Pre-9/11 Gulf War Veterans participated in at least one program, and 72.6% of the cohort had participated in at least one program since 2006. However, considering the living cohort consisted of nearly 5 million Veterans, this means that up to 1.4 million (27.4%) had not received any VA benefits or services.

Invitation to Apply for Benefits

VA encourages these 1.4 million as well as all Veterans to learn about VA programs and to apply for the benefits and services they have earned. Programs are administered through three VA administrations. Follow these links for detailed information, eligibility criteria and application instructions.

Footnotes and Credits

1. The cohort of Veterans covered in this brief include any who served between the beginning of Operation Desert Shield, August 2, 1990, and September 10, 2001. It includes service members from this period who may also have served in other eras.
2. Department of Veterans Affairs. America's Wars Fact Sheet. [Online] September 2019. [Cited: October 26, 2020.] https://www.va.gov/opa/publications/factsheets/fs_americas_wars.pdf.
3. From the United States Veterans Eligibility Trends and Statistics (USVETS) dataset, described here: https://www.hsrd.research.va.gov/for_researchers/cyber_seminars/archives/video_archive.cfm?SessionID=3626. For USVETS summary data see: https://www.va.gov/vetdata/.
4. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Enterprise Integration. Veteran Population 2018. National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics. [Online] [Cited: October 26, 2020.] https://www.va.gov/vetdata/Veteran_Population.asp.
5. Education Benefits data are not shown in the second chart because use of Education benefits often occurred years prior to 2006 when NCVAS began tracking past usage. Eligibility ends 15 years after military separation for Veterans whose service ended prior to January 1, 2013, which is the case for many Veterans in this cohort. 
Produced by the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics. See our website for more data on Veterans.
Title photo by DVIDSHUB. Second photo by Rawpixel Ltd, both licensed under Creative Commons BY 2.0.