Today, the military-civilian divide is greater than at any other time in American history. The percentage of Americans who have served in the military is lower today than ever since the end of World War II. While fewer people in uniform seem like it means fewer wars, it is, in reality, a symptom of a nation lulled to sleep by a media more interested in entertainment than world news.

Today, more than at any other time in American history, the United States Armed Forces are engaged in combat at more hot spots around the globe than ever. The low percentage of Americans serving in uniform and a nation focused on other things hides these truths. Do you know someone serving in uniform? Chances are, you don’t. If you are old, like me, you probably know a veteran or two. If you are under forty-five, your chance of even knowing someone who has donned the uniform in defense of our union is low.

Today, Lillian and I live comfortably in a gated community surrounded by our middle-income neighbors, who are your stereotypical patriotic yet politically polarized group. We get together but forgo conversations of religion or politics and are oblivious to the fact that two Navy F-18S destroyed terrorist cells in Syria and Iraq yesterday. While a few of my neighbors served in uniform, only one other neighbor that I know made it a career. I’m sure there are others in our community, but I haven’t met them yet. Are these 498 people good citizens? Would they have answered our nation’s call if need be? You bet.

A few months ago, I asked myself how many of the thousands of fans at the college football championship game had ever served. After playing the national anthem and retiring the colors, the six service member color guards retreated and left the stadium. I suspected that the number of veterans had been reduced by half. Seventy-two thousand eight hundred eight people were in the stands in Houston for the game. When those six service members left the field, I bet that very few veterans remained to watch the game. Congratulations, Michigan, by the way. I was rooting for the other guys. It’s too bad both teams couldn’t have won. Both had excellent coaches, and the players were well deserving to win.

Today, 1.4 million Americans wear the uniform and serve on active duty. Active duty military represents less than 1% of all adults. These are the only one percenters that matter.

Today, 17 million Americans can call themselves a veteran. In twenty-five years, that number will be 12 million. Veterans make up less than six percent of our population.

While 17 million Americans are veterans, only 2.24 million retired with twenty or more years defending our great land.

Today, there are 461,657 active-duty members in the U.S. Army. California has the most active-duty members in the U.S., with 158,754 personnel. This we’ll defend! Hoorah.

The Navy has 451,000 Sailors. “Non sibi sed patriae” (Not self but country).

The Air Force has 342,000 Airmen. “Aim High. Fly, Fight, Win.”

The Marines hail 245,000. Semper Fidelis (Always Faithful).

The newly minted Space Force has 154,000 Guardians. Semper Supra (Always Above).

The Coast Guard has 43,000 Coast Guardsmen to guard our nation’s borders. Semper Paratus (Always Ready).

Did you know that the U.S. Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security? It is only in times of war that it is subordinate to the U.S. Navy.

Did you know that 171 National Cemeteries scattered across the country contain the remains of America’s better angels?

Nearly 5.3 million people — including 4 million Veterans from the Revolutionary War to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan — are buried in a national cemetery.

Did you know that PFC Lee Marvin was shot in the butt on the island of Saipan during World War II? Did you know that he lies in rest next to the greatest boxer of all time, Joe Louis Barrow, at Arlington National Cemetery?

Did you know that Lena Basilone, wife of Medal of Honor recipient Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone, is buried at Riverside National Cemetery in California? The Marines offered to bury her with her husband at Arlington National Cemetery. She declined. She didn’t want to be a bother.

Today, 35,574 veterans are homeless.

One in three veterans has post-traumatic stress. FYI: it’s an injury, not a disorder.

Less than forty percent of them seek help.

Twenty-two veterans a day die by suicide.

Sorry, I missed the news. Who made the final four?

9 thoughts on “Today”

  1. If 22 illegal immigrants died every day by suicide, our political “leaders “ and the press would be all over the story.


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