Civilian and Warrior: A common crisis originally published in Washington Times
DALLAS, December 20, 2011–As this decade of a two-front war gradually comes to a close, a sadly familiar cultural rift has been resurrected in America: the communication crisis between the civilian and the soldier/veteran.
A groundbreaking Pew Research study attempted to assess the gravity of this miscommunication, achieving startling results. According to their research, 96% of the post-9/11 veterans and 91% of the public, regardless of the attitudes on either the Iraq or Afghanistan war, feel proud of those who served. Yet despite this pride and appreciation, 77% of these modern-era veterans say the American public has little or no understanding of the problems that those in the military face. Disappointingly, 71% of the public agrees.
This may be why 44% of Post-911 veterans reported trouble adjusting to civilian life, meanwhile an estimated 25% experienced difficulty in past generations (we can deduce that these percentages are larger, as often veterans do not answer honestly). From these numbers, it is natural to conclude that most veterans feel detached from civilians, and civilians, despite their love affair with patriotism, do not feel connected to veteran’s issues.
This is unsurprising. This longest sustained period of warfare has been fought by an all-volunteer, draftless military comprised of less than one-half of a percent of the 310 million person population in this country; a startling contrast to the 9% fighting at the height of World War II. Furthermore, passionate politics, cultural differences and life experiences drive a wedge between those that have and have not experienced war. Combat changes people and the American civilian is not fully engaged in these wars; these are inescapable truths.