Gap between military and civilians widening, study finds

Fewer civilians have family connections to the military, according to the results of a recent Pew Research Center study.

Researchers noted an age gap, with more than three quarters of adults age 50 and older saying they had an immediate family member who has served in the military, but only 39 percent of adults under the age of 30 saying the same.

"With the shrinking size of the military in recent decades there are now fewer connections between the military and the civilian world," Pew's report said.

The survey also found that veterans were more likely than the general public to have family in the military. Half the veterans had a parent who served compared to 41 percent of civilians. Forty-three percent of veterans said they have a sibling who served in the armed forces, compared with 27 percent of all adults.

Half of those with immediate family in the military would recommend the military as a good career option compared to only 43 percent of those with no immediate military ties. Three fourths of veterans would recommend a military career. Veterans' recommendations may have a tangible influence. At 21 percent, veterans are more than twice as likely as civilians to have a son or daughter who has served in the military.

Defense officials have expressed concern about the widening gap between the military and civilian worlds. Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified before the House in February that he saw a "growing disconnect between the American people and the military."

Those who have military family members and those who do not have immediate family in the armed services shared some similar views -- roughly half of both demographics believe that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are not worth fighting.

Similarly, an overwhelming percent of respondents -- 94 percent of those with and 87 of those without military relatives -- said they felt proud of the soldiers servings in the military.

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