Census rule overturned; deployed military members to be counted

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — A new census rule will allow deployed military members to be counted in the places they live.

City of Jacksonville officials played a major role in fighting a Vietnam-era rule that had required persons deployed during combat be counted at their home of record.

The new rule counts them at their usual residence in the same manner that someone traveling away from their home for business is counted at their home if away on census day.

An estimated 20,000 persons were not counted as residents of Onslow County in the 2010 Census, and city officials joined with others to seek a new interpretation that would apply to military deployments.

“This is a major victory that we are now able to have our residents counted where they live,” said Jacksonville Mayor Sammy Phillips. “Those who live here, work here, train here and then deploy to serve their country abroad, should be able to be counted as residents of our community because this is where they will return.”

During the 2010 Census, military families were told not to list their deployed family member on their Census form, as they would be accounted for administratively by the Department of Defense. Per the rules in place, they worked to count the deployed service member at their home of record, which for some, could have been the recruiting station where they signed up for the service.

Overall, about 35,000 persons may have not been counted as residents of any community in the state as a result of the significant military presence in the state.

Members of the City Council and Onslow County Board of Commissioners, as well as officials with Military Host Cities, have worked with the state in seeking the rule change.

The issue has huge impact on how a community appears in the census for potential business opportunities, for how federal and state funds are shared and how allocations are made for ranking businesses and other entities.

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