At community events where first responders are present and the U.S. flag is raised, you’ll see many of the men and women working for fire, police, and other emergency services salute. That’s how you know they are military veterans.
“Service members both past and current are allowed to salute in civilian clothes,” said Spicewood Fire Chief Sam Stacks, a U.S. Navy veteran. “When you see someone saluting, nine times out of 10, they are a veteran.”
Once out of the military, many veterans feel called to continue their service, this time in the community as first responders, turning their military experience into a civilian career.
While only 7 percent of the U.S. population has served in the military as of 2020, 19 percent of police officers are veterans, according to a research project conducted for The Marshall Project, a nonprofit journalism organization dedicated to criminal justice. It is the third most common occupation for veterans.