On this Veterans Day 2023, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) thanks and honors all Veterans who have served to protect and defend our freedoms.

Veterans by Branch of Service

The VA fulfills President Lincoln’s promise to care for those who have served in our nation’s military and for their families, caregivers, and survivors by delivering a wide array of benefits and services to eligible Veterans, dependents, and survivors to help ease the transition from the military to civilian life and to improve quality of life after service. Considering the magnitude of this commitment it is important for VA and key VA stakeholders to understand the demographic and social characteristics of the Veteran population being served to optimize the planning and improvement of VA benefits and services.
This Veterans Day, we explore trends of the Veteran population in the U.S. (1) by branch of military service for fiscal years (FY) 2000 to 2023. Overall, the Veteran population in the U.S. has declined during this period, from 26.3 million in FY 2000 to 18.1 million in FY 2023 (2).
Number and proportion of Veterans by branch of service...
The charts below show the estimated number and percent of Veterans by branch of service (3) for FY 2000 to 2023. There have been notable decreases in the number of Veterans who served in the Army or Navy in terms of both number and percentage. The number of Veterans serving in the largest branch, Army, has decreased from 12.8 million (49%) in FY 2000 to 7.9 million (44%) in FY 2023. The decrease in those serving in the Navy is smaller, dropping from  5.9 million (23%) to 3.8 million (21%) over the 24-year period.
The number of Air Force Veterans has decreased over the years, from 4.5 million to 3.1 million, but the percentage has remained steady at about 17%. Overall, the number of Marine Corps Veterans has declined from 2.3 million in 2000 to 2.0 million in 2023 but the proportion has increased from about 9% to 11% during that period. Veterans that served in All Other branches (4) increased in both number and percentage -- 764,000 (3%) in FY 2000 to 1.2 million (7%) in FY 2023.
Proportion of female Veterans by service branch...
The chart below shows the percentage of female Veterans within each branch of service for FYs 2000 to 2023. Overall, the population of female Veterans has grown since FY 2000. Female Veterans represented 6% of all Veterans in 2000; this number increased to 11% in 2023. This growth is clear when examining the percentage of each branch that are females. Marines show a 2 percentage point increase while the other branches show at least a 5 percentage point increase over the 24-year period. The share of female Veterans serving in the Air Force or All Other branches showed the largest increases. The percentage of female Air Force Veterans increased from 8% in 2000 to 15% in 2023 while female Veterans in All Other branches grew from 10% to 17%.

Invitation to Apply for Benefits

VA encourages 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.


The PACT Act is a new law that expands VA health care and benefits for Veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic substances.

Contact Information

Prepared by the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Enterprise IntegrationOffice of Data Governance and AnalyticsNational Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics. For questions, please email us at
  1. This brief includes statistics on Veterans living in the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
  2. VetPop2020 State Estimates 2000 to 2020VetPop2020 State Projections 2020 to 2050. National Center for Veterans Analysis. Numbers cited are the 2000 estimate and 2023 projection for the 50 states and District of Columbia combined. [Accessed October 19, 2023]
  3. Veterans who served in multiple branches of service are included in the last branch in which they served.
  4. “All Others” includes U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Public Health Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Reserves.
Title photo: Department of Veterans Affairs 2023 Veterans Day Poster.