The 1 percent of Americans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are unified more than anything else by one attitude: They have few regrets.
Nearly nine in 10 said that even considering all they know about the military, they’d still choose to join if they could make the decision again, according to a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll.
That view wavers little among those who paid a bigger price for their service: 92 percent among those who were seriously injured, 88 percent whose physical health is worse, 79 percent who said the wars are not worth fighting, and even 90 percent who did things in war that made them feel “guilty.”
The near unanimous confidence — rare agreement for opinion surveys — contrasts with splintered views over whether the wars were worth fighting and Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush’s leadership. On those issues, veterans break along partisan lines more common among fellow citizens in the general public.
But these divisions may not factor as much into veterans personal assessments of value. On the practical front, nearly half took advantage of the GI Bill, and eight in 10 felt the skills they learned in the military will be useful in the civilian job market (though their unemployment rate is higher than average).
Personal conviction is important as well. Fully 87 percent were proud about what they did in the war — 51 percent felt this way “often.” That pride also comes with a rare distinction, given 99 percent of Americans did not volunteer.