In my liberal corner of the world, I periodically have people tell me, quite earnestly, that the military preys on the poor and ill-educated. I’ve countered these fact-free statements with the study from the Heritage Foundation study demonstrating the higher than average social-economic status one sees in the military. I can now add Mark Seavey’s debunking, too.
Let me throw one more thing into the mix: Even if one assumes solely for the sake of argument that these earnest liberals are correct and that the military does attract — nay, even prey upon — a disproportionate number of poor, ill-educated people, so what?
Our military is not a charnel house. I’m going to assume, and you can throw statistics back at me to tell me I’m wrong, that the vast, vast, vast, vast majority of military personnel do not die while on duty. Heck, I don’t even have to stop with assuming. I have facts! Active duty military right now is about 1.4 million men and women. The number who have died since the invasion in Iraq is, according to two websites I looked at, 5,555. My math is dreadful, but even I can figure out that the total number of casualties is a small percentage of those who serve (thank God).
Likewise, while there are many more battle injuries than deaths, I’m also comfortable assuming that the vast, vast, vast, vast number do not have their lives destroyed by those injuries. I might have magical thinking on this, because my Dad survived 5 years in North Africa and Southern Europe during WWII without a scratch (El Alamein, Crete, etc.), but I know for a fact that it’s possible to go to war and come back home again.
So what we’ve got is a whole bunch of people in the military who come home whole. Nope. That’s wrong. I’d argue that a significant number — maybe the vast majority — come home better than whole. They come home more disciplined, skilled and mature than they were when they left. In other words, the military didn’t just take, it gave. Accepting as true the liberal contention that the military took in a bunch of helpless rubes, it served them well by releasing them as more highly functioning members of society who, post-enlistment, are more, rather than less, likely to make it in America.
UPDATED: This Onion News report, which Sadie sent me, seems like a nice wrap-up to a post about the military’s virtues, since it looks at those who don’t care enough to enter the military (or do anything at all, for that matter). (Foul language warning.)