Veteran Data: Population and Compensation/Pension Statistics in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is separated by a body of water called the “Straits of Mackinac.” This 3.5-mile-long stretch where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron meet is the geological division between Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas. On the western end of the Upper Peninsula (UP), the border is defined by the state line it shares with northern Wisconsin. The UP has a population of 301,151, and is home to roughly 27,308 Veterans, about 9.06% of the total. (Veteran Population) Of this group of veterans, 6,744 are receiving disability or pension compensation, which equates to about $141,595,000 in expenditures.

The 2018 Upper Peninsula veteran data is broken down by its 15 counties:

  • Marquette County has the largest population amount and the highest veteran constituent at 66,516 residents with 5,952 veterans receiving about $31,688,000 in compensation and pension benefits.  
  • Next is Chippewa County with 37,517 residents and veterans 3,112 veterans receiving $15,420,000 in compensation and pension benefits.  
  • Houghton County ranks 3rd in total population at 36,219 and a make-up of 2,523 veterans with disability and pension compensation coming in at $11,680,000.
  • Delta County follows with 35,857 residents and 3,635 veterans who receive $21,321,000 in compensation and pension benefits.
  • Dickenson County has a total population of 25,383 including 2,456 veterans on the federal dole for disability compensation and pension at a rate of $13,898,000 last year.
  • Menominee County is 6th out of 15 counties and has 22,983 residents, with 2,072 veterans rating and receiving $9,400,000 in disability compensation and pension payments.
  • Gogebic county has 15,096 residents, 1,464 veterans earning $6,492,000 annually in compensation & pension benefits.
  • Next is Iron County, with a population of 11,117 which includes 1,265 veterans who were paid a collective $7,824,000 in disability and pension payments last year.
  • Mackinac County last totaled 10,787 residents with 960 veterans receiving $4,624,000 last year for compensation & pension benefits.
  • Alger County follows with a total 9,097 people including 875 veterans obtaining $4,014,000 in disability and pension payments.
  • At 8,320, Baraga county ranks 11/15 in Upper Peninsula population counts and has 721 veterans receiving $3,267,000 for disability compensation and pension payments.
  • Schoolcraft County has 699 veterans among a population of 8,068 residents.  Veterans of this county were paid $4,806,000 in 2018 for disability and pension benefits.
  • Luce County comes in at 6,283 residents and 486 veterans receiving $2,520,000 in these benefits.
  • Followed by Ontonagon County with 5,795 residents including 815 veterans, who received $4,309,000 in compensation & pension benefits last year in 2018.
  • Last is Keweenaw County coming in at 2,113 residents and 274 veterans receiving $872,000 in 2018 in the form of disability and pension benefits.

It is interesting to note that the two counties with the lowest population totals have the highest percentage of veteran residents, with Ontonagon at about 14% and Keweenaw at 13%.  Below is a chart depicting Disability Compensation and Pension by county, and is broken-down into segments: expenditure by county, a percentage of total expenditure, and the average expense per person for these benefits.

This report is a subset of a series of reports designed to create a comprehensive profile of this specific veteran population.  This data can be used to aid further research regarding certain demographic trends among the veteran population residing in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. 


FY2018 VA Disability Compensation and Pension Recipients by County of Residence.” Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Enterprise Integration, United States Veterans Eligibility Trends & Statistics (USVETS)2018, National Center for Veterans Analysis & Statistics, 1 Oct. 2019,

Veteran Population.” US Census Bureau, Department of Veterans Affairs, Nov. 2019,

Jesse Sherman

Jesse C. Sherman is a Marine Corps veteran of the Global War on Terrorism having deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom on two occasions between 2002-2006 and is a recipient of the Purple Heart medal. Jesse received a B.A. in English, Practical Writing from Western Michigan University (2012), and will earn a M.B.A from Northern Michigan University in 2020. Jesse is a married father of 3 and resides in Marquette, MI.

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