If you like reading about veterans and you're a statistics junkie, then settle in with this buffet of numbers.

The U.S. Census Bureau, using a variety of sources, recently compiled a bevy of figures about those who served in the military, finding that in 2006 there were 23.7 million veterans in the United States.

Most of those vets were men, but 1.7 million were females. About 16 percent of those women were Gulf War veterans.

Census figures from 2000 put the number of veterans in Utah at about 160,000, which Utah Veterans Affairs director Terry Schow said puts this state on the low end of a per-capita veteran population.

"It is partially a cultural thing," Schow said.

The typical age of military recruits is between 18 and 20, Schow added. He said in Utah many people are on two-year missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during that time. Schow said many missionaries come back, get married and either finish college or go to work and might not think about joining the military until later in life.

"Clearly Utah is a very patriotic state," Schow said, noting the popularity among older adults volunteering in the Utah National Guard.

Schow also said that while many World War II veterans, most of whom are now well into their 80s, are dying off, many more veterans have been created in Utah since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began and that the total number of vets in Utah probably hasn't changed dramatically since the 2000 Census.

Nationally in 2006 the number of veterans who were age 65 and older was 9.2 million, while 1.9 million were younger than 35. Last year there were 2.4 million black vets in the United States, 1.1 million Hispanic, 292,000 Asian, 169,000 American Indian/Alaska Native and 28,000 Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander veterans.

Where they served: Vietnam, 8 million; Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan wars, 4.6 million; World War II, 3.2 million; Korean War, 3.1 million; and those who served during peacetime, 6.1 million. It's important to note that some veterans served in more than one war.

So, out of those numbers above, about 430,000 served during both the Vietnam era and in the Gulf War; Korea/Vietnam, 350,000; World War II/Korea/Vietnam, 78,000; and World War II/Korea, 294,000.

While World War II vets are dying at a rate of about 1,000 a day, there were only three documented World War I vets who served with U.S. forces still living in 2006, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA recorded Jan. 21, 2007, as the date of death for the last World War I veteran who was receiving compensation or a pension from the VA.

The six states with 1 million or more veterans in 2006 were California, Florida, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Out of all veterans age 25 and older in 2006, an estimated 25 percent had at least a bachelor's degree while about 90 percent had a high school diploma or higher. About 17.4 million veterans voted in the 2004 presidential election.

The number of veterans age 18 to 64 who were in the labor force in '06 was 11.1 million. The average median income for all veterans last year was $34,437 and slightly less than 6 percent of all vets were considered to be living in poverty, according to the 2006 American Community Survey.

Vets with disabilities totaled 6.1 million last year, with 3.5 million of those 65 and older. About 2.7 million vets received compensation totaling $26.6 billion for "service-connected' disabilities that occurred as of 2006. In the last fiscal year (2006) the federal government spent an estimated $72.4 billion on veterans benefits programs, divided almost in half between compensation/pensions and medical programs.

In 2002 there were an estimated 3 million veterans who owned businesses, and about 68 percent of them were age 55 and older, according to those who responded to a Census request for data, indicating the numbers may be higher. About 7 percent of those business owners said they were disabled as a result of a new injury while activated or one that was aggravated during active military duty.

One final flurry of figures: Veterans Day, which was first known as Armistice Day, began 88 years ago on the first anniversary of the end of World War I. In 1926, Congress passed a resolution for an annual observance, and by 1938, Nov. 11 became a national holiday. In 1954 President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation that changed the name to Veterans Day to honor those who served in all American wars.

E-mail: speckman@desnews.com