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A few things you probably didn’t know about the U.S. military

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THIS REPORT from the Pew Research Center was issued in 2011, but most of the findings probably still apply.

A few excerpts:

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. Some 84% of post-9/11 veterans say the public does not understand the problems faced by those in the military or their families. The public agrees, though by a less lopsided majority—71%…

The public makes a sharp distinction in its view of military service members and the wars they have been fighting. More than nine-in-ten express pride in the troops and three-quarters say they thanked someone in the military. But a 45% plurality say neither of the post-9/11 wars has been worth the cost and only a quarter say they are following news of the wars closely. And half of the public say the wars have made little difference in their lives…

At a time when the public’s confidence in most key national institutions has sagged, confidence in the military is at or near its highest level in many decades. However, just 58% believe the military operates efficiently. Among veterans of all eras, 66% say the military runs efficiently…

Just half of all post-9/11 veterans say that, given the costs and benefits to the U.S., the war in Afghanistan has been worth fighting. A smaller share (44%) says the war in Iraq has been worth it. Only one-third (34%) say both wars have been worth fighting, and a nearly identical share (33%) say neither has been worth the costs…

About half of post-9/11 veterans (51%) say relying too much on military force creates hatred that leads to more terrorism, while four-in-ten endorse the opposite view: that overwhelming force is the best way to defeat terrorism. The views of the public are nearly identical: 52% say too much force leads to more terrorism, while 38% say using military force is the best approach…

Both the public and veterans oppose bringing back the military draft. More than eight-in-ten post-9/11 veterans and 74% of the public say the U.S. should not return to the draft at this time…

Politically, post-9/11 veterans are more likely than adults overall to identify with the Republican Party—36% are Republicans, compared with 23% of the general public. Equal shares of these veterans and the public call themselves independents (35%), while 21% of post-9/11 veterans and 34% of the public describe themselves as Democrats…

In their religious affiliation, veterans are roughly comparable to the general population. Post-9/11 veterans are mostly young adults, and like younger Americans overall, they are more likely than the general public to say they have no particular religious affiliation (30% vs. 18%)…

The military in the post-9/11 era is older than the force that served a generation ago. While about two-thirds of active-duty military personnel are ages 30 or younger, the average age of enlisted personnel and officers has increased significantly since the draft ended in 1973…

The percentage of minorities in the ranks of enlisted personnel and officers has increased significantly since 1990. In 2009, more than one-third of all active-duty personnel were minorities (36.2%), an increase from 25.4% about two decades ago. Women also comprise an increasing share of all active-duty officers and enlisted personnel…

Today’s enlisted personnel are better educated than those who served before them. Fewer are high school dropouts and more are college graduates. In 2009, 92.5% of recruits were at least high school graduates, compared with 82.8% of comparably aged civilians…

At a time when marriage rates are declining in the broader population, the share of active-duty military personnel who are married has increased dramatically in recent decades. Today, a majority of all enlisted personnel are married (53.1%), up from 40.1% in 1973. Overall, those in the military are significantly more likely to be married than are civilians of a comparable age.

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