This Friday is the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the Afghanistan War. Has this been ten years of war for the entire country? No, not really. As a recent study from the Pew Research Center points out, only 1.5 percent has been on active military duty since the beginning of the war.
- Some 83% of all adults say that military personnel and their families have had to make a lot of sacrifices since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks; 43% say the same about the American people. However, even among those who acknowledge this gap in burden-sharing, only 26% describe it as unfair. Seven-in-ten (70%) consider it “just part of being in the military.”
Veterans are very proud of their military service; but an alarming 44% of them are having trouble coming home, coming back to life as a civilian, including the 37% who have problems related to post traumatic stress, whether or not they have been “officially diagnosed.” The path to “official diagnosis” is not an easy one, with the backlog of cases both in the active duty medical services and the VA. Many veterans relate that they experience outbursts of anger and irritability since their discharge and this strains their family relations. These relations are strained by the deployment schedule, training schedule and constant moving.
With all their pride in their service, these veterans are not completely supportive of both the wars. 50% of these veterans think that the war in Afghanistan has been worth the sacrifice, but only one third think that the Iraq war has been. They are also strongly convinced that they are more patriotic than other Americans by over 60%.
- “While they report that their fellow citizens have thanked them for their service, these veterans also know that most Americans have a poor understanding of military life. More than seven-in-ten recent veterans believe the public knows little of the rewards of their service, and 84% say Americans are largely unaware of the problems they and their families face”.
The public, on the other hand, says the wars have made very little difference in their lives and very few (about a quarter of the civilian population) follow the news of the wars closely. This, while almost 4,500 troops have died in Iraq, while, 1,700 have died in the last 10 years in Afghanistan, with countless thousands wounded. This is the type of disconnect that has widened the gap between the military community and the civilian community.
Photo: S. Francis - used by permission