Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month Quick Facts

  • "Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are a vast and diverse community, some native to the United States, hailing from Hawaii and our Pacific Island territories. Others trace their heritage to dozens of countries. All are treasured citizens who enrich our Nation in countless ways, and help fulfill the promise of the American dream which has drawn so many to our shores." —President Barack Obama
  • The "Asian/Pacific American" designation encompasses over 50 ethnic or language groups including native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. There are now more Asian and Pacific Islander groups than in the past - with 28 Asian and 19 Pacific Island subgroups representing a vast array of languages and cultures.
  • According to the 2010 Census, the estimated number of U.S. residents of Asian descent was 17.3 million, comprising 5.6 percent of the population.
  • According to the 2010 Census, the estimated number of U.S. residents who said they were Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander was 1.2 million, comprising 0.4 percent of the total population.
  • Asian/Pacific American women first entered military service during World War II. The Women's Army Corps (WAC) recruited 50 Japanese-American and Chinese-American women to the Military Intelligence Service Language School at Fort Snelling, Minnesota, for training as military translators.
  • On January 21, 2009, former Army Chief of Staff and now retired Army General Eric K. Shinseki was sworn in as the Nation’s Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Born in 1942 on the island of Kauai, Hawaii, Shinseki graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., in 1965.
  • The economic profile of Asian Indians has changed dramatically. While the first immigrants were agricultural and manual laborers, today, significant numbers of Asian Indians are engaged in professions such as medicine, accounting, and engineering. A recent study indicated that a higher percentage of Asian Indians are engaged in managerial positions today than any other ethnic group in the U.S.
  • Maya Lin rose to fame in 1981. Just 21-years-old and an architectural student at Yale University, Lin won a contest to design the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Her design beat out more than 1,400 entries. The memorial's 594-foot granite wall features the names of the more than 58,000 U.S. soldiers who died during the Vietnam War.

Source: Brian Ripple, Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI) Public Affairs.