An updated rule to the federal census scheduled for April 1, 2020 will require deployed military personnel to be counted at their duty station.

A new federal census rule announced Wednesday may mean a higher count for military communities.

Although the next census will not come for another three years, the 2010 census in Onslow County listed about 20,000 fewer people than its true amount due to a Vietnam-era rule that requested deployed military not be listed on their home census.

Instead, those deployed were listed on their home of record, which was the place of recruitment for many service members.

"This is a major victory that we are now able to have our residents counted where they live," said Mayor Sammy Phillips said in a press release. "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."

According to Jacksonville Assistant City Manager Glenn Hargett, there was an empirical count of over 14,000 personnel deployed from Camp Lejeune in 2010.

Although deployment has decreased over the years, Hargett said updating the census rule makes sure military members are given credit where it’s due.

“There was a real sense of morality to this that this was being applied in such a way that the military was not the one being discounted,” Hargett said.

The new rule allows deployed service members to be counted as a citizen traveling on business, rather than as a military specific count.

Hargett said changes in the times and the military itself have helped move this rule along, since the military has not held a draft for so long and the age of enlistment has gone up.

"They’re more likely to be married, stationed here, or in a deployment (here),” Hargett said. “Home is the base where they are stationed now.”

One of the doctrines in play is the established place of residence, which states wherever someone is established is where he or she lives, Hargett said.

“And it says if you’re here at Lejeune, that’s where you’re living -- and if you leave this place, you intend to come back to that place,” Hargett said.

Leaving Camp Lejeune for six months on a deployment, for example, will now be treated like a business trip by the government, instead of discounting the person deployed.

Besides making sure military personnel are counted as members of the community, adjusting the census may change how cities and counties are ranked, and perhaps benefit certain government funding.

“There are funds attached to census counts, but it’s also important that we simply get to count the people who are part of our community,” Hargett said.

Reporter Kelsey Stiglitz can be reached at 910-219-8453 or kstiglitz@JDNews.com.