Thursday, May 29, 2008

We need a draft

We need a draft

By Walter Haan,

Considering the public’s almost total lack of respect as usual on Memorial Day Weekend, the very best way to rebuild the links between the battlefront and the homefront does require reinstating the draft. Ever since the Vietnam War era, those with less opportunities have served as our enlisted personnel, with barely a college guy in sight. In my Army Signal Corps company in 1965-66, there was only one college graduate out of 150 enlisted men. Me. Since the repeal of the draft, the situation has gotten worse, with military and economic systems that literally force poorer young people to join the regular forces and the National Guard. The Angrist-Krueger analysis of World War II veterans suggests that they earned five percent less over the decades than those who did not serve. Joshua Angrist’s study of the Vietnam experience calculates that military service during Vietnam reduced average overall earnings for white males by 15 percent. Skills acquired in the military do not make up for lost civilian work experience. Today, our poorer youth are still penalized for military service, not only in the workplace, but by the Veteran's Administration's poor health care and the administration's non support of the latest Veteran's education bill promoted by Senator Jim Webb of Virginia.

I have published military history and memoirs for 25 years, having read hundreds of manuscripts by anguished veterans. It is arrogance on our part to maintain a two tier system where the disadvantaged that do serve are economically punished for the rest of their lives.

This is abuse of our servicemen and women by the Bush-Cheney administration. The maintenance of military and economic systems that literally force young men and women of limited means to join the regular forces and the National Guard is criminal. These young people then find themselves in Iraq or Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the sons and daughters of the political and commercial elite avoid any risk from the military actions their fathers created and support for their own selfish economic benefit. Copyright 2008 by Walter Haan,


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