The U.S. Military Today

The makeup of the U.S. armed forces has changed considerably since the days of the draft. The all-volunteer military is a self-selected group that must must pass higher entrance requirements than ever before. Various reports and polls give us a snapshot of what the overall active-duty population is like. For example, they are more educated than ever.

Today's military personnel are more likely than comparable age groups in the civilian population to have graduated from high school (after all, with rare exceptions, military recruits must have high school degrees or GEDs). Military officers, meanwhile, are substantially better educated than civilians: Only 30 percent of the overall population over age 25 have bachelor's degrees, compared to 82.5 percent of officers.

And they tend to come from higher-income backgrounds.

Today's military is distinctly middle class. In part, this is because military requirements render many of the nation's poorest young people ineligible: The poorest Americans are the least likely to finish high school or gain a GED, for instance, and poverty also correlates with ill health, obesity, and the likelihood of serious run-ins with the criminal justice system, all of which are disqualifying factors for the military.

Active-duty personnel are also older than they used to be, and more likely to be married than the civil population. They hold more liberal political views than you might imagine. And best of all, while some veterans have trouble reintegrating into civilian life, the vast majority of post-9/11 veterans do well both socially and economically. The article at Foreign Policy also explores the reasons people volunteer for the military, the geographic distribution of recruits, and other demographics. Link -via Digg


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The comparison for number of four degrees is with officers. Aren't some of the more straightforward ways to become a commissioned officer to attend one of the academies or to have a skilled background? If a degree is part of the common path to becoming an officer, plus any opportunities being in the armed forces offers to make getting a degree easier, it shouldn't be that surprising there are a lot of them with degrees.

i would be curious to see what portion of officers have a post-graduate degree, or the percentage with degrees for members of the services in general. And what portions of those were degrees they had before going in versus getting later (I've seen quite a few graduate students who were formerly in the military, but never noticed one going into the military).
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It's not the high minded heroism that we're all spoon fed, but it's much more plausible. We were just men who were willing to take risks for a steady paycheck, not much different from coal miners or bridge builders.

The ideological superstructure and post rationalization involved is amazing, though.
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90% of the soldiers that I served with, when pressed, admitted that they joined up because they felt they had nowhere else to go.

That's extremely depressing!
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This trend was known when I went into the army in the early 00's.

If you had asked me in 2002, I would have taken this as evidence that the US military has become a respectable institution of intelligent professionals. I would have concluded that our military is the best in the world, and that this is one more sign of America's great system.

Today I see this as evidence that our economy is so broken, that men with bachelor's degrees have little hope of finding gainful employment outside the massive, bloated government industrial complex.

Military life is largely banal, family-shredding and dangerous work. 90% of the soldiers that I served with, when pressed, admitted that they joined up because they felt they had nowhere else to go.
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