A study by the Pew Research Center that included 4,000 people exposes a startling disconnect between American citizens and members of the military. While we still respect and honor those who serve our nation, too many of us see the military as out of sight, out of mind.
According to the Pew Center’s Paul Taylor, as reported on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” just half of one percent of Americans have served on active duty during the last decade,” a time when we have fought the longest wars in our history in Iraq and Afghanistan.
That might not seem unusual if not for the fact that 9 percent of Americans served during World War II. According to Pew researchers, only about 25 percent of Americans are following the wars, and it seems they would rather not have those close to them seek a military career.
While 80 percent of our veterans would recommend a military career to a “young person close to them,” only about 40 percent of non-military Americans would recommend a career in the military. Taylor said, “They recognize that there are burdens borne and, frankly, they don’t necessarily want their kith and kin and folks close to them to bear those burdens.”
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The study reveals that with an all volunteer army, it’s easier to engage in missions for a much longer time because the majority of Americans don’t have skin in the game. That’s reflected by the “Eight in 10” veterans who say “the American public doesn’t understand the problems faced by those in the military or their families.
Those civilians polled acknowledge that soldiers and their families make a lot of sacrifices, but only one-quarter see that as unfair. A large majority of civilians see it as just being part of the military.”
Middle Georgians would score higher than average on recognizing the sacrifices of our warfighters. War is not a foreign concept here. Robins Air Force Base deploys airmen all the time as do several National Guard and Reserve units. We know how to come together and support the families left behind. Many Americans might not have skin in the game, but here in Middle Georgia, it’s more than skin, it’s our life’s blood.
-- Charles E. Richardson, for the Editorial Board