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The State of Veterans in Wisconsin

A Report by UWM Center for Economic Development on behalf of the Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce

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Wisconsin is currently home to over 331,000 veterans of the US Armed Forces who have served from World War to the present.

In this report, we analyze Wisconsin’s veteran population and identify critical gaps across 4 key categories including education, economy, housing, and health.
Among the key questions we examine:

  • What are the current characteristics of veterans and projected changes in their population in Wisconsin and how do these vary by urban and rural areas?
  • What is the state of the education, economic well-being, housing, and health of veterans in Wisconsin and how does this compare to veterans in the nation and non-veterans in the state?
  • What differences can be observed between urban and rural areas in Wisconsin?
  • What is the current landscape of programs and services for veterans in Wisconsin and
    what strategies we can learn from other states?

Overall, our analysis indicates shifts in veterans’ population size and unique characteristics among Wisconsin veterans which pose both challenges and opportunities for communities and service providers charged with meeting the needs of veterans in the areas we examine. We summarize here specific findings that stem from our research in the order of the key questions examined.

Key Finding in the report:

Wisconsin veteran-owned businesses (VOBs) generate billions of dollars in revenues.
Wisconsin VOBs generate roughly $12 billion annually and employ about 68,000 workers, 2.6 percent of the state’s workforce. Sectors with the highest numbers of VOBs in Wisconsin include construction (18 percent), followed by retail trade (13 percent). The state has a smaller percentage of VOBs in professional, scientific, and technical industries than the country as a whole (9.7 percent vs. 17.2 percent).

Programs and services from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) are crucial in assisting veterans in seeking employment, achieving higher education, navigating housing resources, and accessing health care. Nongovernmental organizations also play important roles in supporting veterans in the state. In our report, we summarize key programs and services for veterans in Wisconsin. We also analyze VA annual expenditures and allocation per veteran in urban and rural areas in the state.

Veteran population:
According to the US Census Bureau, the US has about 18 million veterans or roughly 7 percent of the adult population in 2019. Wisconsin currently has approximately 331,340 veterans which comprise 7.4 percent of the adult population in the state. Wisconsin’s
urban and suburban counties with the most veterans include Milwaukee, Dane and Waukesha. These three counties account for roughly a quarter of the total veteran population in the state.

Chapter 1 – Demographic Portrait
Chapter 2 - Education
Chapter 3 - Economy
Chapter 4 - Housing
Chapter 5 - Health
Chapter 6 - Veteran services
Chapter 7 – Strategies from other states

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Arthur Niki Thies - WVCC Communications Manager | Former Gunners Mate in the US Navy