Military Service Demographics
Danielle Allen takes to the editorial pages of WaPo to decry the regional disparity of military service in a piece titled “Red-State Army?”
Whereas in 1969 13 percent of Americans were veterans, in 2007 only 8 percent of us were.
Even more important than these general demographic shifts is the change wrought by the end of the draft in 1973. Until then, military service was distributed pretty evenly across regions. But that is no longer true. The residential patterns for current veterans and the patterns of state-level contributions of new recruits to the all-volunteer military have a distinct geographic tilt. And tellingly, the map of military service since 1973 aligns closely with electoral maps distinguishing red from blue states.
In 1969, the 10 states with the highest percentage of veterans were, in order: Wyoming, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, California, Oregon, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Ohio, Connecticut and Illinois. In 2007, the 10 states with the highest percentage of post-Vietnam-era veterans were, in order: Alaska, Virginia, Hawaii, Washington, Wyoming, Maine, South Carolina, Montana, Maryland and Georgia.
She gives the usual conjecture as to why the disparity exists and argues that mandatory national service is absolutely essential to save us from our dividedness.
Except that as Streiff, posting at RedState (ironically enough), points out, her premise is wrong. Indeed, it’s rather silly. Virginia, Hawaii, Washington, Maine, and Maryland all voted for Barack Obama! All of those but Virginia voted for John Kerry and Al Gore!
So, maybe we don’t need to fire up the draft just yet.