Veterans Day: American Indians Serve in the Military at a Higher Rate than any Other Racial or Ethnic Group

American Indian veterans from Great Lakes served as color guard at National Congress of American Indians opening ceremony in Milwaukee in October 2917. Native News Online photo by Levi Rickert

Commentary

Published November 11, 2017

Today is Veterans Day in the United States.

Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary marking 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. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation in 1954 to change the name to Veterans Day as a way to honor those who served in all American wars. The day honors military veterans with parades and speeches across the nation and a remembrance ceremony takes place at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. The ceremony honors and thanks all who served in the U.S. armed forces.

Christy Jackson (Bad River Chippewa), who served in the U.S. Army in Iraq, at Madison College in Madison, Wisconsin on Nov. 10, 2017.

Historically, American Indians were known as warriors. It is a deep tradition that has continued to modern times. This is perhaps the reason the Pentagon reports American Indians and Alaska Natives participate in the military at a higher rate than any other racial or ethnic group in the United States.

Navajo Code Talker Peter MacDonald speaking at USS Silversides Museum in Muskegon, Michigan on July 7, 2017. Native News Online photo by Levi Rickert

The vast contributions the American Indian code talkers during World War II have chronicled in recent years. The fact that their codes were never broken is witness to the power of Native language that fortunately was available to those who spoke it then.

Here are some American Indian and Alaska Native veteran 2013 statistics that were released in May 2015 by the U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey:

140,828

Number of American Indian and Alaska Native veterans.

18.6 Percent

The American Indian and Alaska Native veterans who served in the post 9/11 period of service in a higher percentage than veterans of other races (18.6 percent vs. 14.0 percent, respectively).

57.8

Median age of American Indian and Alaska Native veterans. The median age for veterans of other races was 63.2 The American Indian and Alaska Native non-veterans’ median age was 39.5.

$25,990

The median personal income of American Indian and Alaska Native veterans was the lowest of any other racial and ethnic group in the United States.

On this Veterans Day, Native News Online joins with Indian Country and all Americans in honoring the men and women who have served in the United States Armed Forces.

 

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  1. Patricia Smith Olmstead 1 week ago

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