In a September 8, 2017 op-ed in the San Diego Union-Tribune, retired Navy SEAL Lieutenant Commander Ed Hiner wrote about the American military becoming a “family business” — and he is right, sadly.
Hiner’s point, citing data available on who serves in our all-volunteer military, is that fewer and fewer American families are shouldering the burden of military service in America. He points out, for example, that “Pentagon research found that 80 percent of new troops come from a family in which at least one parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, sibling or cousin served in the military.” Furthermore, Hiner notes that less than 0.5 percent of the population of the United States currently serves in the military, and contrasts that with the 12 percent that served during World War II.
Hiner also notes that our national leaders — largely — no longer serve in the military before assuming public office at the highest levels. He points out that George H.W. Bush, elected in 1992, was the last sitting U.S. president to serve abroad, on active duty, in the American military.
These are staggering — and depressing — statistics, and they point to a general falling off of the American citizenry when it comes to military service. They also point to the fact that we apparently no longer value military service in our national leaders. Hiner writes that, “It used to be considered an honor and a responsibility to serve in war for your country.” We also used to expect our leaders to do so, as well.