Utah Man Pushes for Census to Include Veterans Question

FILE - This March 23, 2018, file photo shows an envelope containing a 2018 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident as part of the nation's only test run of the 2020 Census.  (AP Photo/Michelle R. Smith, File)
FILE - This March 23, 2018, file photo shows an envelope containing a 2018 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident as part of the nation's only test run of the 2020 Census. (AP Photo/Michelle R. Smith, File)

OGDEN, Utah — The former head of the Utah Department of Veterans Affairs is pushing for the U.S. census to include a question about veterans next year.

Terry Schow, a Vietnam veteran, wants the 2020 census to ask about veteran status so the state can have a more accurate count of people with military service, the Standard-Examiner reported Saturday.

"It's really just one question: Are you a veteran?" Schow said.

The Census Bureau pulled the veteran status question from the questionnaire in 2010, according to the agency. The bureau continues to collect data on veterans through three smaller surveys: the American Community Survey, the Current Population Survey and the Survey of Income and Program Participation.

These surveys only go to a portion of the population, Schow said. The American Community Survey, the largest of the three, is sent out to about 3.5 million people each year.

Current counts of veterans from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Census Bureau are likely missing a significant number of people, Schow said.

The department lists about 152,000 veterans in Utah while the bureau says the state has about 144,000. A state database indicates Utah has about 180,000 veterans, Schow said.

The VA uses census data to determine spending on veteran housing, hospitals and assistance programs, Schow said.

Republican U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop sent a letter to the bureau's director earlier this month, asking for the veterans question to be included.

"I believe this small change will have a big impact on our ability to take care of our nation's heroes and the proper allocation of resources for veterans cemeteries and homes," Bishop wrote.

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