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Do Those Who Serve Represent America

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It wasn’t too long ago that Defense Secretary Robert Gates delivered a speech (transcript) to Duke University students focusing on a call to service. While praising ROTC students, Gates alluded to what seemed to be an increasingly small population of people serving their country, “We’ve had so few fighting our wars for so long. How long can these brave and broad young shoulders bear the burden that we as a military, a government and a society continue to place on them?” In a nutshell, military service is something for other people to do. One of the problems is that as a volunteer military, servicemembers are becoming a niche segment of the population rather than drawing equally across the nation. Some fear that means the armed forces may slowly become less and less in touch with those they are defending.

On the other hand, in this recent round of elections there were twenty-seven candidates who had served in either Afghanistan or Iraq. Veteran candidates bring a unique skillset to the political arena along with firsthand experience to the failures of diplomacy. Some may argue the previous points; that aside from über-patriotism, veterans are not entirely touch with the American people. Is a cast of veterans the best line of defense against future conflict while cutting through general political B.S. or will they quickly be cast aside by seasoned political wranglers?

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