1 in 3 vets believes wars worthless, poll finds
WASHINGTON -- One in three U.S. veterans of the post-9/11 military believes the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were not worth fighting, and a majority think that after 10 years of combat America should be focusing less on foreign affairs and more on its own problems, according to an opinion survey released Wednesday.
The findings highlight a dilemma for the Obama administration and Congress as they struggle to shrink the government's huge budget deficits and reconsider defense priorities while trying to keep public support for remaining involved in Iraq and Afghanistan for the longer term.
Nearly 4,500 U.S. troops have died in Iraq and about 1,700 in Afghanistan. Combined war costs since the 9/11 attacks have topped $1 trillion.
The poll results presented by the Pew Research Center portray post-9/11 veterans as proud of their work, scarred by warfare and convinced that the public has little understanding of the problems that wartime service has created for military members and their families.
The survey also showed that post-9/11 veterans are more likely than Americans as a whole to call themselves Republicans and to disapprove of President Obama's performance as commander in chief. They also are more likely than earlier generations of veterans to lack religious affiliation.
The Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan organization that studies attitudes and trends, called the study the first of its kind. The results were based on two surveys conducted between late July and mid-September. One polled 1,853 veterans, including 712 who had served in the military after 9/11 but are no longer on active duty. Of the 712 post-9/11 veterans, 336 served in Iraq or Afghanistan. The other polled 2,003 adults who had not served in the military.
Nearly half of post-9/11 veterans said deployments strained their relationship with their spouses, and a similar share reported problems with their children. On the other hand, 60 percent said they and their families benefited financially from having served abroad in a combat zone. Asked for a single word to describe their experiences, the war veterans offered a mixed picture: "rewarding," "nightmare," "eye opening," "lousy."
There are about 98,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, where the conflict began with a U.S.-led invasion on Oct. 7, 2001. Obama campaigned for the presidency in 2008 on getting out of Iraq and ramping up the military campaign in Afghanistan. He is on track to have all U.S. troops out of Iraq by the end of this year, and in July he announced that he would pull 10,000 troops out of Afghanistan this year and 23,000 more by next September.
The Pew survey found that veterans are ambivalent about the net value of the wars, although they generally were more positive about Afghanistan, which has been a more protracted but less deadly conflict for U.S. forces. One-third of post-9/11 veterans said neither war was worth the sacrifices; that was the view of 45 percent in the separate poll of members of the general public.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Authorities release name of Greensburg man who jumped off overpass onto Route 30
- Penguins face important test with pre-playoff meetings against Flyers
- Franklin Regional grad Hickey continues to prepare for NFL Draft
- Penguins notebook: Ehrhoff skates, remains out of lineup
- Obama targets cyber attackers with sanctions
- Pirates notebook: Richard doesn’t exercise opt-out clause in contract
- Steelers re-sign DE Geathers
- 2 Western Pennsylvania veterans’ suicides raise questions
- Walker: Scottdale Association’s Good Friday service site changes to Trinity church
- Operating loss widens at Highmark parent
- Timeless Moody Blues make stop at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Hall