February 21, 2018

Needs Assessment

Veterans in Washington, DC, Maryland, and Northeastern Pennsylvania

Executive Summary

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates that there are 21.6 million veterans living in the United States, making up 6.7 percent of the general population.1 Of this number, approximately 1.3 million, or 6.5 percent of the total national veteran population, reside in Washington, DC, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.2  

The Weinberg Foundation commissioned the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) to assess the needs of veterans in these areas to assist in planning future philanthropic investment in Washington, DC, Maryland, and Northeastern Pennsylvania. This report summarizes research conducted by CNAS researchers between May and August 2017, using a mixed-methods approach including qualitative research on regional trends; quantitative research using data made public by the VA, the Department of Defense (DOD), the U.S. Census Bureau, the Department of Labor, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and other agencies; and interviews and working groups with individuals representing more than 50 organizations serving veterans and veterans themselves in the region.

The following assessment attempts to answer the following research questions: What is the state of veterans in Washington, DC, the state of Maryland (with particular emphasis on veterans in Baltimore), and Northeastern Pennsylvania? Where do needs exist among the veteran population in these localities? Are there any particularly vulnerable groups among the population? What are the main efforts at meeting the needs of veterans? How does the coordination of existing services take place, and are there collaborative structures in these locations that guide investments, services, and overall care?

The research produced a number of observations regarding issues facing veterans and military families in the region. Foremost among them were the following:

Washington, DC

  • The city of Washington, DC, is home to 29,157 veterans, who constitute 4.2 percent of its total population.3  
  • The median income for veterans in Washington, DC, is significantly higher than the national average. This is due in part to the large representation of retired senior military personnel in the region, in part to the large government contracts sector that disproportionately hires veterans and pays them well. However, this high average masks issues that more impoverished veterans in the city face.
  • The presence of many veteran-serving nonprofits’ headquarters in Washington, DC, and its immediate suburbs obscures the fact that there are far fewer organizations focused on meeting the needs of veterans locally.


  • The state of Maryland is home to 423,470 veterans, who constitute 7.0 percent of its population. The City of Baltimore has 32,440 veterans, who constitute 5.2 percent of the city population of 620,961.4  
  • There appears to be a divide between the coordination of veterans’ services between the City of Baltimore and Baltimore County.
  • Rural veterans in Western Maryland and Maryland’s Eastern Shore face different issues from those of their urban counterparts, largely centered around the distance to medical care. 

Northeastern Pennsylvania

  • In the 14 counties analyzed in Northeastern Pennsylvania, there are 109,564 veterans, constituting 10.8 percent of the total adult population in the region. 
  • The relatively homogenous composition of the Northeastern Pennsylvania veteran population (95 percent male and 96.5 percent Caucasian) suggests some challenges for female and minority veterans seeking services tailored to their specific needs.

This report proceeds as follows: Section 1 describes the methodology for the assessment and provides additional context regarding the project’s scope. Section 2 gives an overview of both national and state-specific veteran populations for DC, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, and provides context for the report’s findings. Section 3 provides the report’s findings from each of the regions, including information gathered through interviews and working groups. Section 4 brings the study to a close with observations and conclusions based on the research.


  • Katherine L. Kuzminski

    Deputy Director of Studies, Director, Military, Veterans, and Society Program

    Katherine L. Kuzminski (formerly Kidder) is the Deputy Director of Studies, and the Director of the Military, Veterans, and Society (MVS) Program at CNAS. Her research special...

  • Amy Schafer

    Former Research Associate, Military, Veterans, and Society Program

    Amy Schafer is a former fellow at the Center for a New American Security, where she focuses on civil-military relations, issues facing military families and veterans, and mili...

  • Phillip Carter

    Former Senior Fellow and Director, Military, Veterans, and Society Program

    Phillip Carter was the former Senior Fellow and Director of the Military, Veterans, and Society Program at the Center for a New American Security. His research focused on issu...

  • Moira Fagan

  • Jeesue Lee

  • Andrew Swick

    Former Research Associate, Military, Veterans, and Society Program

    Andrew Swick is a former Research Associate with the Military, Veterans, and Society Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), where he focused on civil-milita...

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