veterans dayWhen it comes to military service, Americans used to be joiners.

Not anymore.

The numbers from a national study conducted by The Pew Research Organization in 2011 tell an interesting story:

Compared with respondents who were ages 50-64, younger respondents (ages 18-29) were less likely to have at least one immediate family member (parent, sibling, child, or spouse) who served in the military.

In fact, younger people were almost 50% less likely to have a close family member who served, or is serving, in the Armed Forces.

Despite what the patriotic hoo-ha might suggest, the reality is that during post 9/11 conflicts (2001 to present) the percentage of Americans serving was the lowest in American history.

Relinquishing personal gain to the success of the whole, striving for excellence, an encompassing sense of belonging, and a strong moral code almost guarantee that service members, active or veteran, remain on the outside of the larger society.

Priorities have shifted; there isn’t a national consensus on what America’s role in the world.  More than ever before the military sways in the political winds.

World opinion may be more expensive than military technology.

The positive shift in Americans’ acknowledgement of the dangers and sacrifices of America’s military men and women, especially those of the Vietnam era, is long overdue (Korean War veterans remain largely unrecognized for their service).

The fact is that the danger of war hasn’t changed, all that military families forgo hasn’t changed, nor have the life-changing ramifications of military service changed.  That the military encompasses a culture of its own is poorly understood by most Americans, even those with supportive intentions.

The sacrifices made by generations of military men and women are deep, and remain for a lifetime, although few may realize that early on.  The transition from active to veteran is never fully accomplished.

Forever living the Code in a mostly code-free world may be the most outstanding job of all.

Kathe Skinner and her husband, David, are both “military brats” whose fathers were career Air Force non-coms.  Both of Kathe’s parents served in WWII.  Both Kathe and David agree their lives have been rewarded by the structure and community afforded them growing up military.  Kathe is a psychotherapist specializing in couple’s work. She lives in Colorado Springs, home of Ft. Carson, Shriever Air Force Base, Peterson Air Force Base, Cheyenne Mountain, and the Air Force Academy.  

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