Speaking of veterans, the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs tells us how many of South Dakota’s 72,033 veterans are in each county with this map in its 2016 annual report:
By 2016 population data, veterans constitute 8.32% of South Dakota’s population. That’s one in twelve South Dakotans who have served in the military. Nationally, 18.8 million veterans make up 5.86% of the population.
Dividing the above veteran counts by population for each county, we can see that Fall River, Meade, and Sanborn counties have the highest proportion of veterans in their populations:
The veteran proportion is lower than average in six of our ten most populous counties. The exceptions are Pennington, which is home to Ellsworth Air Force Base; Meade, which is home to one of our major VA hospitals; Lawrence, which is right next door to Meade and Pennington; and Yankton, which I can’t explain easily—Yankton doesn’t even have a VA clinic.
With the exception of our Black Hills sites, counties with college campuses, have lower than normal veteran populations, as do our West River reservation counties. That pattern suggests that younger populations will have lower proportions of veterans.