As the U.S. prepares to count its population for the 24th time since 1790, all residents living on Fort Leonard Wood and the surrounding communities can anticipate receiving their 2020 Census invitations in the mail between March 12 and 20.This year is the first time census takers are able to respond to the questionnaire online, however the invitation will also provide instructions on how to complete the census over the phone. Anyone who does neither will be sent a paper questionnaire -- a team member will visit in person between May and July those addresses without completed census forms.According to www.census.gov, the purpose of the constitutionally mandated census is to get an accurate count of the population and gather important statistical data. This information is used to determine congressional representation and distribution of federal funding for schools, highway planning and construction, programs to support rural areas and housing assistance for older adults.The census will collect basic information about household members, such as name, sex, date of birth and race of people living in each household. It will also ask if a residence is a house, apartment or mobile home -- questions that help produce statistics about home ownership.For those who need the census in another language, the census is available in braille, sign language and 59 other languages at www.2020census.gov/languages.According to the census website, personal information provided on the census is safeguarded, and the Census Bureau is bound by law to keep information confidential. In addition, the Census Bureau will not send emails requesting participation in the 2020 Census and census employees will never ask for Social Security Numbers, bank account or credit card information, or for money or donations.Military members living barracks will be counted in April, along with anyone residing in group living arrangements -- this includes senior centers and students in dorms.For deployed service members, they should be counted at their usual home address in the U.S., and as service members tend to change addresses a lot, they should make sure to only count themselves once. According to the census website, if people have moved into their new residence by April 1, they should count themselves at the new residence. People who have moved out, but not moved into a new home by April 1 should still count themselves at their old residence.More information on the 2020 U.S. Census can be found at www.census.gov or by calling 800.923.8282.