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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Veterans Come Home

We discuss military service not only in our chapter on national security, but in our discussion of civic culture. The Pew Research Center reports that some veterans face challenges in returning to civilian life:
Military service is difficult, demanding and dangerous. But returning to civilian life also poses challenges for the men and women who have served in the armed forces, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey of 1,853 veterans. While more than seven-in-ten veterans (72%) report they had an easy time readjusting to civilian life, 27% say re-entry was difficult for them—a proportion that swells to 44% among veterans who served in the ten years since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
According to the study, veterans who were commissioned officers and those who had graduated from college are more likely to have an easy time readjusting to their post-military life than enlisted personnel and those who are high school graduates.1 Veterans who say they had a clear understanding of their missions while serving also experienced fewer difficulties transitioning into civilian life than those who did not fully understand their duties or assignments.

In contrast, veterans who say they had an emotionally traumatic experience while serving or had suffered a serious service-related injury were significantly more likely to report problems with re-entry, when other factors are held constant.
Among the larger factors influencing the re-entry experience of post-9/11 veterans is religious faith, as measured by how often a recent veteran attends religious services. Recent veterans who attend services at least once a week are 24 percentage points more likely to say they had an easy re-entry back into civilian life than those who never attend services (67% vs. 43%). This finding is consistent with other studies of the general population that suggest religious belief is correlated with a number of positive outcomes, including better physical and emotional health, and happier and more satisfying personal relationships.