Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

Reading with a Critical Eye

Posted by bsflag2007 on Monday, November 27, 2006

The Reality of Our All-Volunteer Military
By Russell Beland and Curtis Gilroy
The Washington Post
Saturday, November 25, 2006; Page

———————————————————————————————————————————-

WOW!!!! If you only read this article you will be SOOOOO misinformed.

These guys say  ” in many cases a tour of duty in a combat zone actually appears to increase the likelihood of a service member’s staying in the military.”

Well, I guess that depends on how you define “volunteer”.  Once they get these guys over there — they won’t let them leave… even when their enlistment is up.  And they have been “calling up”people who have fulfilled their obligations, etc.

Russell Beland is deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for manpower analysis and assessment. Curtis Gilroy is the director of accession policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

This falls under the category of “consider the source”.

I don’t know of anyone who has anything less than the highest regard for the men and women in uniform —

—-for many of us, criticism of the WAY THEY ARE USED and in too many cases ABUSED is the highest form of praise for the value we place on their contribution and sacrifices.

Active military are not “allowed” to criticize…. complain ….. march  (well, march in protest that is)….. dissent …..

It is up to the American People – who claim to be so supportive of the troops – to actually support them; to question the illconsidered dangers, to insist that before these brave men and women are put in mortal jeopardy that is is reasonable and necessary.  You think a “mind is a terrible thing to waste”.? … well, a LIFE is a terrible thing to waste…  the willingness to sacrifice for others is a terrible thing to waste…. the honor and commitment of the few, the proud etc … is a terrible thing to waste.

If we had mandatory service in this country – with no exceptions – more people would think longer and harder about the “sacrifice” they are willing to let “someone else’s kid” make.

Cindy Vaillancourt  – throwing the B—S— flag!

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24 Responses to “Reading with a Critical Eye”

  1. Ed Grund said

    Cindy,
    FYI military folks are free to comment on anything, as their own opinion. Since the armed services view themselves as serving the nation, they prefer not to take self serving official positions.

    The men and women joining the military do so voluntarily, and, believe me, they take that decision seriously. Statistically they are more intellgent, better informed and educated than those who do not join the military, and thus better equipped to make their own moral, political and career decisions. Let’s respect and honor their decision.

  2. timactual said

    “well, I guess that depends on how you define “volunteer”. Once they get these guys over there — they won’t let them leave… even when their enlistment is up. And they have been “calling up”people who have fulfilled their obligations, etc”

    Speaking of misinformed, could you perhaps share with us the source of these, uh, “facts”? And perhaps tell us what that has to do with enlistment and reenlistment rates?

  3. Freemarket said

    Speaking of opinions of military personnel, aren’t there military regulations on the kinds of news magazines and newspapers you can send to service men and women in combat zones? Someone at work was telling me she couldn’t send her brother in Iraq a US News and World Report because the mail is monitored for that kind of stuff.

  4. numbersgirl said

    To Ed Grund, re: “Statistically they are more intellgent, better informed and educated than those who do not join the military, and thus better equipped to make their own moral, political and career decisions.”

    Could you please state the source of these statistics?

  5. Ed C said

    #3. In general it seems that any restrictions to items are due to general shipping concerns and regulations of the host country.

    from http://hqdainet.army.mil/mpsa/faq.htm#q4

    5. What is permissible and not permissible to be mailed to servicemembers of Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom?

    Conditions Applied to Military Post Offices Overseas restriction code -E-2 restricts “Any matter depicting nude or seminude persons, pornographic or sexual items, or non-authorized political materials is prohibited. Although religious materials contrary to the Islamic faith are prohibited in bulk quantities, items for the personal use of the addressee are permissible.”

    Host country customs regulations mostly prohibit the entry of alcoholic beverages of any kind, narcotics, munitions, pork and pork by-products, pornography, and material contrary to the Islamic religion. Letter mail is not being opened unless it appears unusually bulky, in which case it may be examined to see if it contains contraband, such as drugs. Parcel mail is being examined on a spot check basis to determine conformity with host country customs regulations and for terrorist type mailing.

    The may be practical considerations for not sending newspapers / news magazines due to shipping times. Shipping times for surface mail to Iraq is listed as 20-24 days. How much value is there in a month old copy of a weekly news magazine? I’ll bet there are plenty of items that would be better received.

    If your coworker wanted to send toilet paper, a roll would be more practical than pages of pre-election “news” stories.

    Suggestions for items to send are available at http://operationmilitarypride.org/packages.html (I am not endorsing this site, just providing it as a source of information)

  6. Ed C said

    #4. There is a lengthy study of enlistment in the military: http://www.heritage.org/Research/NationalSecurity/cda05-08.cfm

    Who Bears the Burden? Demographic Characteristics of U.S. Military Recruits Before and After 9/11

    Our analysis of the demographic composition of enlisted recruits vis-à-vis the general population considers the following characteristics:

    * Household income,
    * Level of education,
    * Race/ethnicity, and
    * Region/rural origin.

    We find that, on average, recruits tend to be much more highly educated than the general pub­lic and that this education disparity increased after the war on terrorism began.

    Regardless of ZIP code area, we also find that enlistees are almost universally better educated than the general population. In all but one of the 885 three-digit ZCTAs, the graduation rate for 1999 recruits was higher than the graduation rate for non-recruits ages 18–24. In 2003, recruits had a higher graduation rate in every ZCTA.

  7. bsflag2007 said

    Mr. Grund,

    With all due respect, surely you are aware of the difference between what is technically “allowed” and the practical aspects of exercising that “right”. Even at the highest levels, actually speaking one’s mind in the military (or elsewhere) can have repurcussions.

    see: Washington, D.C.: Army General Demoted For Criticizing War in Iraq
    (link-MFSO)ttp://penusa.org/go/news/comments/washington-dc-army-general-demoted-for-criticizing-war-in-iraq/
    Press release, Michael S. Sorgen, attorney for Petitioner. August 17, 2004
    and others. They’re not hard to find — and then just speak to any uniformed service member and ask them how free they feel to express a dissenting opinion.

    As for the intelligence and committment of the volunteers — John Kerry’s botched joke aside, I don’t think the American people really believe the current volunteer military is made up of underachievers. If they weren’t already disciplned, productive and efficient sorts before they joined, they are now (or washed out). Although, like any huge organization, there are some dim bulbs, bad apples, and assorted fruits and nuts – and they seem to manage to find themselves on the front page of USA Today holding leashes or some such thing.

    As for the involuntary extension practices to keep the ranks full —- while there is data to support the claim that retention/re-enlistment is “up” among combat zone soldiers — that is actually true only for certain specialties where significant reenlistment bonuses have been offered…. however, there are limits to the numbers of soldiers at certain levels who can be retained this way … and this increase has not filtered down to the “rank and file” of soldiers needed to fill out the manpower needs of the service. If you happen to be a senior bomb disposal expert who is still alive and have all your fingers… you may be faced with a choice — take this $100,000 bonus to reup…or plan on staying anyway because we can make you….
    If you don’t believe that is the case, speak to a couple of military orthopedic surgeons I know who resisted that inducement… and stayed on almost two years past their enlistments, involuntarily.

    For the rest of the guys… see lawsuit filed : “Soldier brings first challenge to Army policy requiring extended military service for Iraq occupation”
    Legal Filing (PDF link)
    John Doe v. Rumsfeld, Brownlee, Brown, Clark. August 17, 2004

    Part of “honoring their decision” – is to help them be treated honorably by the nation they serve. My sense is the problem is fairly widespread — though even if it only applies to a handful, I believe it is still a problem which should be remedied.

    Cindy V.

  8. bsflag2007 said

    Speaking of reading with a critical eye — Ed C has posted a portion of a :lengthy study” prepared by the military re: enlistee demographics.

    Notice that is mentions that the education level and family financial positions of enlistees increased after the 9/11 attacks.
    If you consider this carefully, you will see that means that prior to 9/11 there was a “lower level of general education level etc” of the average enlistee. Whether that was lower than the national average is not disclosed. (IMHO, data relative to the family backgrounds of the enlistees does not have any effect on the respectability/honor/quality of the soldiers or our debt to them – it is relevent for other purposes, however)

    The data which are currently “on display” are for the period right after this country was attacked.

    It is impressive that when “duty called” some of the best and brightest answered.

    Now, whether their valor and honor has been matched by those who deployed them is a matter for debate. No one debates the honorable intentions of the enlistees.

    Cindy V.

  9. bsflag2007 said

    Regarding the designation “better informed and educated” …. try to keep in mind they are referencing 18-24 year olds in specific zip codes.

    Assume a zip code in middle america. And remember you are looking at 2 distinct groups 18 and 24 — 18 is out of high school, 24 is out of college.

    Remember the “bell curve” — the average high school drop out, the chronic jeuvenile delinquent, the lazy, unmotivated corner hanger on one end …. the prep school, MIT bound math major on the other end — and the mass of regular kids in the middle. The military appeals to the ones in the middle — which is statistcally more impressive than the all the ones on the bottom and at least half of the ones in the center — so welcome to Lake Wobegone where everyone is above average.

    Then remember that for those out of college (22-24)—- right off you have a a clear difference between the bottom of the bell and college graduates. Plus they are entering “the ranks” at a different point, and the officer pool is not necesarily where the shortage is.

    Again — use that little omputer between your ears when you read these things, apply your own experience and common sense — don’t just read the tag line for the official spin. It could be right on point, but it may not be.

    Cindy V

  10. numbersgirl said

    Please note that the study uses a high school diploma as the definition of highly educated. I don’t think this is the same definition that is shared by the general public. And “graduation rate” is referring to high school graduation. While % of enlistees with college education was on the rise, they are still by no means a large share of the demographic.

  11. bsflag2007 said

    the high school diploma criteria is another good point —

    it is interesting to me that the pr value/spin of this study is to suggest that the soldiers are happy enough to stay in iraq- so the public should be too.

    Plus, it is trying to undermine the (once again) growing sense that the underpriviledged are carrying a disproportionate part of the military load – by trying to make the case that the military is comprised of a fairly well rounded “slice” of America.

    My problem with that argument is even if you fully believe that the military is a true representative cross-section of the American people….. you would also have to believe that the “ruling class” is also a true representative cross section of the american people in order to eliminate the concern that the folks making the decisions to go to war are not the same folks who are risking their and their children’s lives.

    Plus… those directly effected by the miitary deployments are such a small percentage of the American people that “overwhelming public support” is not a particularly good guage either…. overwhelming parent of soldier support might get closer —

    provided, of course, folks can seperate the distinct differences between supporting the individual troops – and supporting the decision to put them in harms way.

    cindy v.

  12. timactual said

    “If you don’t believe that is the case, speak to a couple of military orthopedic surgeons I know who resisted that inducement… and stayed on almost two years past their enlistments, involuntarily”

    Perhaps they should have read their enlistment contracts. As officers, they can have their active duty extended almost at will. I think you misunderstand the term enlistment. Unless you have fulfilled your entire obligation, which I think is eight years now, you can be extended or called back to active duty involuntarily. If they don’t like it, they shouldn’t have signed the contract. By the way, did the gov’t. (we taxpayers) put your surgeon friends through med. school?

    Even the one case you cite agrees that they do have this obligation, they just quibble over whether we are at war or in a national emergency.

    The only involuntary aspect of this is that the people you speak of do not want to honor the contracts they voluntarily entered into.

    “Whether that was lower than the national average is not disclosed.”

    Enlistment standards require that a higher percentage of enlistees possess a high school diploma than the percentage of the general population. This has been true for many years. Thus, the militare is, on average, better educated than the general public.

    “…so welcome to Lake Wobegone where everyone is above average.”

    I see you agree.

    “…the (once again) growing sense…”

    Assduming it actuallly is a “growing sense”, that does not make it fact; it is opinion.

    “if you fully believe that the military is a true representative cross-section of the American people…..”

    It is not a reresentative cross-section. Who says it is? It is at least more law-abiding and better educated than a representative cross section.

    ****************

    ” Please note that the study uses a high school diploma as the definition of highly educated”

    I believe the actual wording was “more highly educated”. There is a difference.

  13. Freemarket said

    Ed C.- Thanks for that info on military mail restrictions. I feel better know the gov’t is not participating in mind control in such an obvious fashion.

  14. bsflag2007 said

    The wording in the conclusion is “more highly educated” — the criteria used to make that determination is “high school diploma” — but you have to go to the source to discover that…. which is why I suggest “reading with a critical eye”.

    It may not alter your confidence in the interpretation of the “facts” – but it is always a good idea to know what the criteria is.

    Regarding “the contract” — except in instances where the enlistee/signee/recruit was mislead or lied to (which does happen) — the “quibbling over whether it is a national emergency” is a fairly significant point.

    And, I would argue, that even in terms of what the contract may arguably “allow the government” to do —- there is always the question of “what we can get away with” versus “what is right”. What is legal and what is right.

    Further, I think you may be misunderstanding the connection between “serving out the entire obligation” and “active duty being extended almost at will”.

    It is possible – and it has happened – where an individual has “served the entire obligation” and has been “retained at will” beyond that period …. see the “stop loss” program …

    This is one of the times when both “sides” of a question can be correct and still at odds. You are correct, the contracts are binding and should be fully understood by anyone signing one. So are the ones used to sell used cars.

    However, it is also true that in the case of these particular contracts — where the whole force and power of the United States Government is behind their enforcement – any “quibbling” over the details is likely to be decided by shear force of power.

    I, for one, am not thrilled with “my government” taking the used car salesman track in writing or enforcing contracts. “My government” should be synonomous with absolute integrity, forthrightness and adherence to basic principles of hinesty in everything they do “in my name”.

    Finally, “the growing sense” – you are correct, suspicion does not make fact…. it does, however serve to give us pause to reflect and “look into it”. A study like the one presented is an answer to the question, albeit with a slant.

    I don’t happen to find the implied conclusions persuasive regarding whether public opinion and official action would be altered if EVERY family was at risk of sending loved ones into combat.

    Do you think there would be a difference, and if so – how might a study be designed to prove or disporve the hypothesis?

    Cindy V.

  15. Ed C said

    Here are two links that I’ve found that list education for officers.

    Air Force 2006: http://ask.afpc.randolph.af.mil/pubaffairs/servicedemographics.asp?prods3=2303&prods2=313&prods1=79

    Academic Education
    – 49.2 percent of the officers have advanced or professional degrees
    — 39.4 percent have master’s degrees, 8.5 percent have professional degrees and 1.3 percent have doctorate degrees
    — 22.8 percent of company grade officers have advanced degrees; 16.5 percent have master’s degrees, 5.9 percent have professional degrees and .3 percent have doctorate degrees
    — 85.4 percent of field grade officers have advanced degrees; 70.7 percent have master’s degrees, 12.1 percent have professional degrees and 2.5 percent have doctorate degrees
    – 99.9 percent of the enlisted force have at least a high school education
    — 73.3 percent have some semester hours towards a college degree
    — 16.2 percent have an associate’s degree or equivalent semester hours
    — 4.7 percent have a bachelor’s degree
    — .7 percent have a master’s degree
    — .01 percent have a professional or doctorate degree

    For all services in 2002: http://www.dod.mil/prhome/poprep2002/chapter4/c4_education.htm

    Shows similar numbers, with the Air Force having the highest concentration of advanced degrees.

  16. bsflag2007 said

    I am not surprised by the above chart of academic accomplishment among military officers. The military can certainly be a terrific path to higher education and achievement at all levels.

    In fact, I absolutely believe the officer corps is chock full of extraordinarily capable individuals – as are the ranks of the enlisted.

    This seeming need to document the “intelligence” and “accomplishment” of our military personnel is, I think, the result of some misunderstandings.

    First, there is a huge difference between being “under-priviledged” and being “under-capable”. Isn’t it a core American value that anyone, from any background, can achieve anything based on ability and effort? The military can be the “great equalizer” – right up there with public education.

    Second, that any complaint, criticism or concern about the use of the military, or the organizational policies of the military is in any way a criticism of the soldiers. I believe this knee jerk reaction is the root of “our” inability to get beyond the patriotic posturing to the underlying issues.

    CIndy Vaillancourt

    Second,

  17. timactual said

    “but it is always a good idea to know what the criteria is.”

    I know what the criteria were. I believe I mentioned them.

    ““quibbling over whether it is a national emergency” is a fairly significant point.”

    I think my actual words were;

    “they just quibble over whether we are at war or in a national emergency.”

    It is often considered improper to change words in a quote.

  18. bsflag2007 said

    You are right – I had intended to put the words “national emergency” in quotes — as the definition of national emergency is “the” significant point.

    Although – I still find it interesting that anyone would consider questioning whether our country is “at war” or “in a national emergency” is “quibbling” …. which seems to me to be a very dismissive word.

    Do you consider the distinction insignificant?

    As for understanding the criteria used – two things, first, the general statement that it is important for readers to look beyond the stated conclusions to the underlying data/definitions/assumptions in order to judge the validity of the conclusions is just that – a “general statement” – not directed at any individual.

    The personalization of general comments is a common distraction which interferes with the actual exchange of ideas.

    Second — I believe what you cited was part of the conclusion, which I believe “numbers girl” correctly identified as a point which needs to be clarified in order to understand why folks might disagree with the implied application of the conclusions drawn.

    My apologies to “numbers girls” for presuming to speak for you — however, in the same spirit of “not taking general comments personally” (which is not a direct quote) I will answer the collective scolding on form if not substance.

    Also as a question of form – since I haven’t figured out how to make italics in the reply box, I use the quotation marks for distinction or emphasis…. not always indicative of a direct quote. I will be more careful about that in the future and apologize to anyone else who feels they have been “misquoted”.

    cindy vaillancourt

  19. timactual said

    “as the definition of national emergency is “the” significant point.”

    I don’t think so. The aricle you cited said War or national emergency. Either will do.

  20. bsflag2007 said

    The are folks who question whether what we (“america”) are in is a national emergency of our own …. that justifies the actions, costs, sacrifices …. and triggers the “rights” of the government usually reserved for “war time” —- or if our current administration has taken certain liberties with the truth in order to claim these rights and powers.

    I haven’t quite settled on an opinion on the degree to which I believe our “leaders” intentionally mislead — or how much of a role incompetence played. I am, however, convinced that a significant “power grab” has been orchestrated – and that was quite intentional and effective.

    Oddly, it seems that those same brave, committed, intelligent, accomplished soldiers that the so-called “conservatives” become hyperplectic “supporting” (verbally anyway) are the ones getting the brunt of the downside of this exercise.

    How allowing that jibes with supporting them is a mystery to me.

    I would call the contempt in the sentiments expressed about the combat surgeons who were “retained past their enlistments” who “should have read their contracts” (paraphrasing) and “just don’t want to honor their committments” (paraphrasing) and “should be grateful that we paid for their educations” (paraphrasing) somewhat less than supportive as well.

    btw, pointing out that they were not pleased with the “involuntary extension” and the interpretation that this was allowed due to a manipulation of the definitions in the agreement/contract… is not the same thing as saying they “did not want to honor their committments” – or that they didn’t “understand the contracts.”

    I am expressing outrage on thier behalf that “my government” has resorted to contractual gamesmanship to abuse the very individuals we supposedly respect so much. In the (paraphrased) words of Oliver Wendal Holmes, “out government should never be involved in ignoble acts”.

    Cindy V

  21. timactual said

    “I would call the contempt in the sentiments expressed about the combat surgeons who were “retained past their enlistments” who “should have read their contracts” (paraphrasing) and “just don’t want to honor their committments” (paraphrasing) and “should be grateful that we paid for their educations” (paraphrasing) somewhat less than supportive as well.”

    “the combat surgeons”

    I thought they were orthopedic surgeons. Since I always thought surgeons are noncombatants, you will have to define “combat surgeons” for me.

    1) If you choose to see contempt for military personnel where non exists, that is your problem.
    2) Your misuse of quotiation marks coupled with the claim of paraphrasing causes me some confusion. I really do not have a clue as to what you mean, but on the surface it sounds like something I would disagree with if it was expressed with more clarity.

    “this was allowed due to a manipulation of the definitions in the agreement/contract”

    To what are you referring?

  22. bsflag2007 said

    Orthopedic surgeons working in areas where combat is going on… treating combat victims … equals combat surgeons —- though, I suppose if distinguishing soldiers based on combat experience … and differentiating between those who have “seen action” and what level of action they have “seen” (participated in) is significant…. then in at least one of my orthodepic surgeon friends who has practiced in a combat zone, which was not supposed to be a combat zone but turned into one when bombs started going off around them and shots were fired and all that kind of stuff the layman usually equates with “combat” was going on ought to be legitimately described as a combat suregeon – though I would not attempt to argue whether that is some kind of official military classification. History is stained with blood spilled in
    Quotation Marks ” ”

    Use quotation marks . . .

    in the following situations: (among others)

    to indicate words used ironically, with reservations, or in some unusual way; but don’t overuse quotation marks in this sense, or they will lose their impact.
    example:
    History is stained with blood spilled in the name of “civilization.”

    uses of Parentheses ()

    Parentheses are occasionally and sparingly used for extra, nonessential material included in a sentence. For example, dates, sources, or ideas that are subordinate or tangential to the rest of the sentence are set apart in parentheses. Parentheses always appear in pairs.
    example:
    Before arriving at the station, the old train (someone said it was a relic of frontier days) caught fire.

    Use of Quotation marks as a substitution for italics .”

    italics are not always easily recognized with some fonts, many instructors prefer underlining over italics for course papers.

    Whichever you choose, italics or underlining should be used . . .
    in the following situations:

    words or phrases that you wish to emphasize
    for example:
    The very founding principles of our nation are at stake!

    (in the original text, the words “founding fathers” were in italics …. but when transfered to this reply box, were concerted to regular text… in order to make them stand apart (to make it clear) I need to distinguish them in some way…

    ie The very “founding principles” of our nation are at stake!
    voila! quotation marks… an approved use according the the engliish department at Purdue.

    as for “paraphrasing”
    A paraphrase is…

    * your own rendition of essential information and ideas expressed by someone else, presented in a new form.
    * one legitimate way (when accompanied by accurate documentation) to borrow from a source.
    * a more detailed restatement than a summary, which focuses concisely on a single main idea.

    6 Steps to Effective Paraphrasing

    #5. Use quotation marks to identify any unique term or phraseology you have borrowed exactly from the source.

    Again – according the the English Department at Perdue. At the end of the “parahrased” passage, a footnote would be in order in an academic paper….

    … though I would argue that my posts on a blog do not constitute an academic paper.

    _________________________________________________________________________________________________

    “This was allowed due to the manipulation of the definitions in the agreement/contract.”

    “this” – referring to the “involuntary retention” of soldiers kept in the military beyond their enlistment obligations

    “was allowed” — meaning it was “accomplished”, “perpetrated”, “inflicted”, “done”

    “due to manipulation of the definitions in the agreement/contract” — the legal argument is that the enlistment agreement/military contract says that in times of war or national emergency the military can retain personnel beyond the original terms of their agreement at the discretion of the military authorities.

    There are generally accepted definitions of what “war” is and what would constitute a “national emergency”. There are even technical definitions of what a “war” is and what a “national emergency” is. And then there is the ability of the president/administration and military authorities under their command to decide – unilaterally – what the definitions of these words will be for purposes of enforcing this part of the “contract”.

    Has the United States of America actually delared war on anything other than “terrorism”? (and poverty… but I don’t recall LBJ trying to retain soldiers in the name of that “war”)

    Is this nation united in its’ belief that “we” are in a national emergency… today?

    This is what I referred to – and meant by – the “manipulation of definitions”.

    If you still have any questions about various ways to manipulate definitions, please refer to Bill Clinton and the “that depends on what the definition of “is” is” (paraphrasing – because I do not have the exact quote in front of me and would not want to misuse the quotation marks but want to attribute the gist of the comment to the proper source)- or what his definition of “sexual relations” is.

    ————————————————————————————————
    I hope that answers your questions about useage, references — and combat surgeons.

    Cindy V

  23. Recently read an article that cited this from a research report:

    Recruits tend to be better educated than the public at large. At least 90 percent of enlistees have a high-school diploma, while the national high-school graduation rate is 75 percent. In addition, the mean reading level of 2004 recruits is a full grade level higher than that of the comparable youth population.

    Recruits from wealthy families are actually overrepresented in today’s military. The only income group whose participation in the military is declining is the poor. The percentage of recruits from the poorest American neighborhoods (with one-fifth of the U.S. population) declined from 18 percent in 1999 to 14.6 percent in 2003, 14.1 percent in 2004 and 13.7 percent in 2005.

    http://www.heritage.org/Research/NationalSecurity/cda06-09.cfm

  24. bsflag2007 said

    My own observations support these conclusions. I know a number of young men and women from middle class – even upper middle class – families who have joined the service (either by enlisting, entering a service academy, or entering an officer training program after college).

    I’m not sure that these numbers alter the question of whether the total number of American families who have a child/spouse/parent actively in the service represents a significant number of American households.

    Has anyone “done the math” as to what percentage of “executive branch” (senators,representatives) families have children/spouses/parents in the service? I hate to use Michael Moore’s data exclusively ;).

    Would it be fair to say we “all” agree that , regardless of family background, the soldiers are “above average” — and that in the past several years more have been drawn from the middle class than the poorest familes?

    And, even if we agree with those two points — that families directly effected -or at risk of belng effected – by the possibility of seeing a loved one “go to war” “engage in combat” “be placed in harms way” …. is still a very small percentage of American families… and a very small percentage of those making the decisions to engage in armed conflicts?

    CINDY V.

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