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Currently in armed forces

Codes and Frequencies

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NOWAF identifies persons currently on full-time active duty with the armed forces. Persons in the sample who were on full-time active duty with the armed forces (code 2 in NOWAF) are given a weight of zero for PERWT because the "NHIS sampling designs can only infer to the civilian, non-institutionalized population." Because the survey is designed for the study of the civilian, non-institutionalized population, documentation in the NHIS public use sample codebooks specifies that "analysts are cautioned not to include members of the Armed Forces in their analyses."

The question about whether an individual was now on full-time active duty with the armed forces was posed if a household contained one or more persons between age 16 and 64 (1997) or between age 18 and 64 (1998 forward). Active-duty armed forces members were considered household members if they were stationed locally and usually slept in the sample unit; they were not considered household members if they were stationed elsewhere (for example, overseas or in a different state).


The Field Representative's Manual for 1997 provides two extended definitions of what constitutes "full-time active duty with the armed forces."


According to the first definition, "'Active duty in the Armed Forces' means full-time active duty in the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard, or any National Guard unit currently activated as part of the regular Armed Forces. Included in 'active duty' is the 6-month period a person may serve in connection with the provisions of the Reserve Forces Act of 1955 and cadets appointed to one of the military academies, such as West Point, the Naval Academy, etc. Also include persons on full-time active duty in the military service of a foreign nation."

According to the second definition, this group includes persons "now serving full-time (including the 6-month period of training in) U.S. Army/Navy/Air Force/Marine Corps/Coast Guard, (or) Military service of a foreign country; in a reserve branch of any of the above currently activated as part of the regular forces; U.S. public health service commissioned officers currently assigned to any branch of the armed forces; members of the National Guard currently blanketed into the regular forces by presidential order; cadets in the U.S. military academy (West Point, Naval Academy, Air Force Academy, or Coast Guard Academy)."

The second definition further specifies whose service should not count as full-time active duty with the armed forces, namely, "persons whose only service is in the Coast Guard temporary reserve; employees of the merchant marine, Maritime Commission, or American Field Service; civilian employees of the Department of Defense; persons in the National Guard or reserve unit not currently activated as part of the regular armed forces, even though currently attending meetings or summer camp, (or) currently activated by Gubernatorial order because of a disaster or civil disorder (flood, riot, etc.)."


Apart from universe changes, this variable is completely comparable over time.

Persons who formerly served in the armed forces and were honorably discharged are identified in HONDSCG.


  • 1997: Persons age 16 to 64.
  • 1998-2018: Persons age 18 to 64.


  • 1997-2018