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A Different Kind of Battlefield: Military Morale Plummeting

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New Military Times survey shows dramatic decrease in satisfaction since 2009.

And as noted here last May, the rates are positively frightening. Young veterans in the highest risk category – 18 to 24 years of age – have a rate of 79.1 out of 1,000. The civilian rate for the same age group is 25 out of 1,000. Older veterans are less likely to commit suicide, but even their numbers far outstrip their civilian counterparts by 2 to 1, and there are now millions more American veterans than there were at the turn of the 21st Century.

During 13 years of war, 6,800 American service men and women lost their lives and over 52,000 were wounded in action. And that doesn’t count the hundreds of thousands who came back suffering from a variety of other maladies, both physical and psychological.  Those who served accounted for less than 1% of the American population, the vast majority of whom never engaged in the struggle except to offer rote “thank you’s” upon their return.

And now we’re ramping up for more war, with another open-ended timetable, against a foe of our own creation, one that will be difficult if not impossible to defeat with conventional tactics, egged on by people who will once again evade war’s consequences. Despite all the assurances about “no boots on the ground,” soldiers and marines know that they’ll be in the fight eventually. They wonder about the mission, whether their lives will be risked for something less than the defense of the United States. They worry about their families and their futures, and with good reason.

Mark Gordonis a partner at PathTree, a consulting firm focused on organizational resilience and strategy. He also serves as president of both the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Diocese of Providence, and a local homeless shelter and soup kitchen. Mark is the author of Forty Days, Forty Graces: Essays By a Grateful Pilgrim. He and his wife Camila have been married for 31 years and they have two adult children.

 

 

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