Vietnam-era veterans who survive estimated at 75%
NEW YORK TIMES
The approximate percentage of Vietnam-era veterans who are still alive in 2013 is 75.
Some online estimates suggest that the number is much more stark: Only one-third of Vietnam veterans are still alive, these websites say, and the survivors are going fast.
But as Patrick S. Brady made clear in an article for The VVA Veteran, the magazine of the Vietnam Veterans of America, the reality is more reassuring. The rumor illustrates the danger of using incompatible numbers from different sources.
It was apparently based on an estimate that 800,000 Vietnam-era veterans had died by 2000. That number was reasonable: About 9.2 million Americans served in the military during the Vietnam era (1964-75), so that would mean about 8 percent of them had died and 92 percent were still alive.
The problem arose when someone applied the 800,000 figure to a different denominator: 2.7 million, the estimated number of veterans who actually served in Vietnam, rather than at home or in some other theater. This made it appear that nearly one-third of those veterans were dead in 2000 and that they were dying at a rate of almost 400 a day. That would have meant more than 100,000 deaths a year, or nearly 2 million between 2000 and 2015 -- a path to near-total disappearance.
In reality, the death rate for Vietnam-era veterans in recent years has been comparable to or lower than that of other men in their age group, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of the men with the age distribution of Vietnam-era veterans who were alive in 2000, about 12 percent had died by 2010, with about 1.5 percent of the survivors projected to die each year since then.