A total of 2.7 million servicemembers have served in the terror war sparked by the 9/11 attacks. Each year now about a third of a million individuals leave military service and become veterans. At present, terror-war vets make up 22 percent of all veterans. That will rise to 42 percent by 2030.
Of the 4.6 million men and women who served during the war on terror and are now out
of the military, 19 percent are not in the labor force—they are in school, raising children, living on disability payments, or retired. Of those who are in the labor force, 6 percent are unemployed. Spouses of members of the military, who must deal with moves and deployments, face special challenges getting jobs.
There is a common misperception that many of the Americans who volunteer for military service do so because they lack skills to make it in the civilian economy. Actually,the young people who serve today exceed national norms, on average, in education and intelligence, health, and character qualities. On the whole, it is most accurate to think of people who have served in the military as a national asset, rather than a problematic population.
Nearly all Americans agree that our society should pull out all the stops to heal and rehabilitate men and women injured during military service. Fortunately, compared to the millions who served in Iraq or Afghanistan, the number seriously hurt is much smaller than generally imagined.
As in athletics, concussions are not uncommon in military life—with four out of five incidents taking place at U.S. bases rather than during deployments. Among recently deployed servicemembers, roadside bomb blasts and more routine events like vehicle accidents caused some concussions and some serious brain injuries. Post-traumatic stress diagnoses are rising for a variety of reasons. Compared to equivalent-age civilian counterparts, alcohol use is higher among servicemembers, and drug use is lower.
Family and Geography
Most veterans and servicemembers these days are married. Most veterans and many servicemembers are also responsible for children. The ratio of single parents in the military is vastly lower than in the civilian population. A very small fraction of households have dual military heads. Veterans are somewhat likelier to live in rural areas. All big states have lots of veterans.
Veterans, even the comparatively young men and women who served in the war on terror, earn substantially more than non-veterans. They also have access to special public benefits, in addition to what they earn. Veterans are thus much less likely to be poor, and comparatively few are homeless.