Douglas County has a proud tradition of having more than its fair share of citizens who have or are currently serving in the military. Nationwide, less than 7 percent of people are currently serving or previously served, but in Douglas County it’s more than double that at 15 percent, according to the Defense Manpower Data Center.

When you break down that 7 percent currently or previously serving, less than 1 percent are serving right now, with just over 2.2 million Americans on active duty or in the guard or reserves. The demographics for veterans are changing as the population ages, and the impact of an all-volunteer force has greater influence.

About 9 in 10 veterans are male, while 9 percent are female. However, the number of women veterans is expected to double by 2045 to 18 percent. The period when a veteran served has changed. Now, more than 50 percent are from the Gulf War period (1990 to current), with the remaining having served during the Vietnam conflict and older. These shifts have placed a burden on our VA system to expand services, making it difficult to access the world-class care our veterans have earned from us as a society.

We at Umpqua Community Health Center are doing all we can to provide the right services to the community – including our veterans – to help meet these challenges, with our state-recognized leadership in care quality, providing physical, dental, mental and behavioral health regardless of the patient’s ability to pay.

What it means to be a veteran has changed over the generations. There isn’t enough space here to share the culture and perspective of the World War II veteran, let alone the many eras that follow. That’s regrettable because there are so many important stories to share. So, as you are out and about, especially around this Veterans Day holiday, take time to say, “Thank you for your service!” to veterans you meet. At Umpqua Community Health Center, we’re proud to support those who have served and provide them the high-quality health care they rightfully deserve.

KC Bolton retired as a U.S. Army colonel and now serves as chief executive officer of Umpqua Community Health Center.

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Managing Editor

Ian Campbell is the managing editor for The News-Review, a former senior editor at the Emerald Media Group and a camping fanatic. Follow him on Twitter @MrCampbell17

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