Statement: “San Diego is home to the nation’s largest number of veterans returning from wartime duty,” County Supervisor Bill Horn said during his Feb. 2 State of the County address.

Determination: True

Analysis: Among a litany of other ongoing projects, Horn emphasized better serving the county’s newest veterans in his speech. He touted a county-funded hotline where returning veterans can talk about mental health problems like post-traumatic stress disorder and a new coalition of service providers that plan to hold seminars for vets this spring.

To emphasize the importance of those efforts, Horn said San Diego County has more veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan than any other in the nation. And in fact, that comparison is accurate.

At least 28,666 veterans from the two conflicts lived in San Diego County as of Feb. 15, the most recent count by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The next highest county, Los Angeles, had at least 17,470.

Part of the reason federal authorities track wartime discharges is to help gauge demand on veterans’ hospitals. But beyond the hospitals, a growing population with wartime injuries and mental health problems can place greater pressure on county social services and law enforcement, who ultimately serve as the last line of support. Two years ago, for example, local service providers began noticing a rise in young veterans who struggled to reintegrate here and ended up homeless.

The map illustrates how San Diego County stands out by showing the number of veterans in each county. For privacy reasons, Veterans Affairs doesn’t disclose the total for counties with fewer than 10 veterans. (Those counties show up in white.)

Although it’s hard to see on the map, it’s worth noting that high concentrations of veterans also live around New York, Washington, D.C., and Norfolk, Va., an East Coast Navy hub. To view an interactive version of the map that allows you to zoom in and see the total for each county, click here.

Since the statistics back up Horn’s comparison, we’ve called the statement True.

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