Coordinated bomb blasts swept across Bagdad Thursday morning, adding weight to experts’ predictions that sectarian conflict and civil war will follow the pullout of American troops. Most Americans share this dire prediction, as we discussed Wednesday.
Life in Iraq is now more hazardous. For our vets, serving in Iraq was hazardous, and now returning home is challenging for many. More than 4 of 10 (44%) vets who served during this past decade say re-entry to civilian life is difficult. Among all of the 1,835 veterans surveyed, the portion is much lower: 27%. These findings are part of a new Pew Research Center survey that included 710 post-9/11 veterans among the 1,835.
Pew researchers conducted a sophisticated analysis of their survey data to understand why some vets struggle when they return home, while others report no difficulty re-entering civilian life. Re-entry is easier for commissioned officers and college graduates than it is for the soldiers they led or who didn’t have a college education. Experiencing something that was emotionally traumatic decreases the odds of an easy re-entry. So does combat experience or knowing someone who was killed.
Married veterans who served in the last ten years find reentry much more difficult than did married veterans from previous wars. This is a puzzling finding, but it goes to show that there’s something unique about today’s returning veterans.
Religion helps. Successful re-entry is much easier for veterans who frequently attend religious services, compared to those who do not.
Pew analysts also discovered what doesn’t predict ease of re-entry. Here’s a list of what doesn’t matter: race and ethnicity, age when discharged, how long the veteran served, and—what I find surprising—the number of times a veteran had been deployed.
As we end this week, I note that Monday’s post—Was the Iraq War worth it?—garnered more comments (55) than any other single post in the 3-plus years I’ve been writing OurValues.org. This count includes comments to the post that was syndicated on several other sites, especially annabor.com. The majority of the comments indicate anger and betrayal, and the conclusion that it wasn’t worth it. So, I’ll end this week by asking:
Was the Iraq War worth it?
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Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.