Yesterday was Veteran's Day. My facebook feed was showing all kinds of "Support Our Troops" memes and messages and it got me to thinking: "I wonder how many Americans don't know someone who has served." Almost a reverse of six degrees of separation. Obviously, everyone who knows me, knows someone who is in the military. I'm friends with a lot of current and former servicemembers so I know their friends know someone who has served. But, when you get down to the numbers, we are really a very small population.
I looked up some of the numbers for military personnel. There are just over 1 million serving in Guard, Reserve, and Active Duty for all services. There are 19.6 million veterans (i.e. no longer serving); 9.3 million of which are age 65 or older; and 1.6 million (of the 19.6M) are female. The population of the United States is more than 316 million. At least according to the last census. That probably doesn't count all the folks that have entered the US in the past four years so let's make that an even 320 million. So that means that less than half a percent of the United States population is serving its country. Half a percent. Not 5.0%. 0.5%...less than that. And that nearly 20 million? Sounds like a lot, doesn't it? It equates to 6% of the country's population. Not even 10% of this country knows what it means to directly serve and "write the blank check."
Let's do some comparing now. In 1945, somewhere between 12 and 16 million served in the United States military. Now, you can say that they had to but a vast majority felt compelled to serve. Do you know what the country's population was in 1945? I had to look it up (like all the other numbers here). 140 million. Which means that anywhere from 8.5% to 11.4% served their country and families were bigger then so the ripple effect was that much larger.
The real unfortunate thing is that I can't, in good conscience, recommend someone join right now. I worry for where this country is going and for the use that the members of the United States military are being put to.
Learn a trade. Take up carpentry or become an auto mechanic. At least you'll have better control over your future.