A new study reveals that the majority of Americans would discourage young people from choosing to enlist in the United States military.
A Rand Corp. report based on a recent survey of Americans states, “A majority of Americans (54.4 percent) would discourage a young person close to them from enlisting in the military, but a majority of Americans (61.2 percent) would encourage a young person to join the military via Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) or a service academy (i.e., as an officer).”
Rand Corp. noted that 31% of Americans who answered that they would discourage young people from military enlistment said they would encourage young people to join through a service academy or the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.
Rand Corp. also noted that the study comes in the midst of a very challenging time for military recruitment in the United States.
“Fiscal year 2022 was one of the worst U.S. military recruitment years on record, with all services apart from the Space Force failing to meet recruitment goals, and fiscal year 2023 saw similar shortfalls,” the report states. “The U.S. public’s overall confidence in the military is likewise declining.”
According to Rand Corp., factors such as the end of the Afghanistan War, the politicization of the military, and the polarization of American citizens likely contributed to the recent survey’s results.
Rand Corp. explained that despite the majority of Americans indicating they would discourage young people from enlisting in the military, researchers discovered that the majority of Americans have a very positive view of U.S. military veterans, with survey respondents “endorsing positive stereotypes about veterans at a high rate and endorsing negative stereotypes at a very low rate.”
The Rand Corp. study revealed that while both Republicans and Democrats would encourage young people to join the military as an officer, Democrat respondents were less likely to encourage young people to enlist in the U.S. military.
Rand Corp. also reported that survey respondents with negative views of veterans were less likely to encourage people to enlist in the military and that respondents who previously served in the military were more likely to answer that most Americans have a negative perception of the military.