# DesertStorm30: Veterans who use VA services


Over 695,000 soldiers were deployed during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, while 2.2 million were deployed during the war. As of 2019, there were nearly 5 million living veterans of that era, with 2.7 million serving solely in the pre-September 11 period.

VA offers dozens of benefits and services to veterans of this era, and these benefits can be grouped into eight programs. Below is how these veterans accessed VA services, along with graphs showing usage of the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics.

Covered Veterans include anyone who served between the start of Operation Desert Shield, August 2, 1990, and September 10, 2001. This includes military personnel from this period who may have served in other eras.


The total number of users has grown steadily. In fiscal 2010, 2.13 million veterans from that era used VA benefits. By fiscal 2019, that number had risen to 2.79 million users.

In 2019, approximately 2.8 million Gulf War veterans participated in at least one program prior to September 11, and 72.6% of the cohort had participated in at least one program since 2006. However, when you consider that the living cohort was made up of nearly 5 million veterans, it means that up to 1.4 million (27.4%) have not received VA benefits or services. Learn more about benefits and services by visiting the following links: Veterans Benefits Administration – Veterans Health Administration – National Cemetery Administration

Disability allowance

Invalidity Allowance is a tax-free cash benefit paid to veterans with disabilities who are the result of an illness or injury that was incurred or worsened during active military service. Veterans may also receive post-service disability compensation if they are considered related or secondary to disabilities in service. In addition, veterans may receive compensation for disabilities believed to be related to the circumstances of military service, even if the disabilities occur after the service.

This advantage has the largest number of users. Veterans of that era receiving disability allowance grew from 1.14 million users in 2010 to 1.84 million users in 2019.

Health care

With VA health care, veterans are insured for regular examinations with a family doctor and appointments with specialists (such as cardiologists, gynecologists, and psychologists). You can also receive hospital care as an inpatient, including operations. Veterans can access health services such as home nursing and elderly care. You can also get medical equipment, prostheses, and prescriptions.

Desert storm veterans are second most likely to use health care. Veterans of that era using VA health care has grown from 855,968 users in 2010 to 1.45 million in 2019.

Home loan guarantee

VA home loans are issued by private lenders such as banks and mortgage lenders. Veterans can get more favorable terms from a lender because VA guarantees a portion of the loan.

Veterans of that era using VA home loan guarantee services have grown from 797,484 users in 2010 to just under 1.4 million users in 2019.

Life insurance

Veterans have access to life insurance benefits. VA’s life insurance programs provide financial security to veterans and their families, given the extraordinary risks associated with military service.

Veterans of this era using life insurance have declined slightly from 340,090 users in 2010 to 323,021 users in 2019.


Veterans can receive benefits for college, graduate school, professional training, and technology classes. In addition, they can receive benefits for part-time training, apprenticeship positions and many other educational offers. Once a veteran is deemed eligible, a variety of training courses are available.

Veterans of this era using educational services have decreased from 274,418 users in 2010 to 120,770 users in 2019.

Professional reintegration

Veterans can receive veteran readiness and employment previously known as Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E, “VocRehab”). These services help with vocational training, job placement, résumé development and job search skills coaching. Veterans and service members can receive services in starting their own business. The program can also provide an independent livelihood for severely disabled people who are unable to pursue traditional employment.

Veterans of that era who took advantage of this benefit have dropped from 75,326 users in 2010 to 50,782 users in 2019.


VA helps veterans and their families overcome financial challenges by providing additional income through the Veterans Pension and Survivors Pension benefit programs.

Retired veterans from that era grew from 10,223 users in 2010 to 17,298 users in 2019.

Services of the memorial

Veterans and their family members can obtain help planning and paying for a funeral or memorial service at a VA National Cemetery through VA. Family members can also order memorial items to honor a veteran’s service.

Veterans and families from that time using memorial services grew from 6,372 users in 2010 to 10,840 users in 2019.


In 2006, VA began tracking the number and percentage of veterans who had participated in each program for that year or beyond. This graph shows the percentages of pre-September 11, 2001 living veterans who had participated in each program since 2006, by fiscal year. Education performance data are not included in this chart. Educational benefits often existed years before 2006, when the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics began tracking past usage. Eligibility ends 15 years after military separation for veterans whose service ended before January 1, 2013, which is the case for many veterans in this cohort.

Learn more

Would you like to see more veteran stats? Check out the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics website.


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