Pew just recently released a poll in which they conducted a survey of veterans and civilians in an attempt to gauge not only the attitudes of the veterans towards their service in what they are dubbing the 9/11 era but also civilians for the same period. While I am still digesting some of the findings there were some key points that did stand out for me.
The first is this one. Only about one half of one percent of the U.S. population has been on active military duty at any given time during the past decade of sustained warfare. Next was this, half of the public say the wars have made little difference in their lives.
The veterans seem to be evenly split as to whether fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were worth it with half supporting the efforts in Afghanistan and about 44% supporting the war in Iraq.
When it comes to politics it seems another stereotype gets debunked with 36% identifying as Republicans, 35% Independents and 21% as Democrats. While the gap between Republicans and Democrats is big it is not as big as most assume. According to Pew the corresponding civilian numbers are 23% Republican, 35% Independent and 34% Democrat which shows a flip between veterans and civilians but also causes me to question their statistical breakdown. Maybe a breakdown of the Independents as to whether they lean Republican or Democrat would have been helpful, not because I question the numbers for veterans but I do for the civilians, but to be fair if I question one side of the equation I do need to question the other side.
Ready for some more preconceptions to take a hit?
What has it meant to serve in the military during the post-9/11 era? Compared with their predecessors of a generation or two ago, those who serve in the modern military are fewer, older, better educated and more likely to be married. A greater share is women and minorities.
All through the report there is evidence of the differences in opinions and attitudes between those who served and those who didn't.
Modern-era veterans would make good military recruiters. Some 82% say they would advise a young person close to them to enlist in the military; 74% of pre-9/11 veterans say the same. The general public is much more ambivalent. Despite their great admiration for the troops, just 48% of members of the public say they would advise a young person to join the military; 41% say they would not.
Anyway for all the veterans out there the report is worth a look, it is pretty extensive, and for civilians you might find some enlightening information in the report also. The report covers a range of topics from reintegration to civilian life, PTSD and a whole host of other topics so everybody should find something in it that will spark their interest.
I did not participate in this survey nor was I contacted, just to get that full disclosure thing out of the way.