Facts and Demographics of America's Veterans and VA Health System

  • Over 37 percent of the veteran population is 65 years old or older, compared with 13 percent of the general population. The challenge to care for these 9.5 million men and women is met through a variety of programs, including more than 137 nursing home care units in medical centers, adult day care, home health aide services and community residential care, contracts with 3,500 community nursing homes, and support to 112 state veterans homes. Additionally, VA conducts nationwide research on the causes and treatment of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias and funds 20 geriatric research centers.
  • Aging Demographics of American Veterans: Overall, the veteran population is declining 1.7 percent per year. From 2000 to 2010 - veterans 65 plus decrease 9 percent from 9.3 million to 8.5 million. However, veterans 75 plus increase 12 percent from 4 million to 4.5 million, and veterans 85 plus triple from 422 thousand to 1.3 million.
  • The largest percent decline is projected for the youngest group, under age 45. This is expected in light of a relatively smaller military.
  • Those aged 65 to 84 are projected to increase between 2010 and 2015 as the Korean Conflict and Vietnam era cohorts age.
  • As the veteran population ages, the demand for geriatric and all forms of long-term care should increase significantly relative to acute care. In particular, nursing home care policies, programs, and services will require continual monitoring and assessment.
  • An increasing number of deaths from an older population means greater demands for services from NCA, including casket and cremation burials, headstones, markers and Presidential Memorial Certificates.
  • VA's health care system has grown to 163 hospitals, with at least one in each of the 48 contiguous states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. VA operates more than 850 ambulatory care and community-based outpatient clinics, 137 nursing homes, 43 domiciliaries and 73 comprehensive home-care programs. VA health care facilities provide a broad spectrum of medical, surgical and rehabilitative care.
  • During the last five years, VA has put its health care facilities under 21 networks, which provide more medical services to more veterans and family members than at any time during VA's long history.
  • VA has experienced unprecedented growth in the medical system workload over the past few years. The total number of patients treated increased by over 11 percent from 2000 to 2001 more than twice the prior year's rate of growth.
  • More than 4.2 million people received care in VA health care facilities in 2001. VA is used annually by approximately 75 percent of all disabled and low-income veterans. In 2001, VA treated about 587,000 patients in VA hospitals and contract hospitals, 87,000 in nursing homes and 45,000 in domiciliaries. VA's outpatient clinics registered approximately 42.9 million visits.