Monday, November 28, 2011

Survey Shows Growing Gap Between Civilians, Military

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 28, 2011 – A new report confirms a concern defense and military leaders have long recognized: There’s a growing disconnect between Americans and their military.

The report, published last week by the Pew Research Center, notes that a smaller share of Americans currently serve in the armed forces than at any time since the peacetime era between World Wars I and II.

Just one-half of 1 percent of Americans served in uniform at any given time during the past decade -- the longest period of sustained conflict in the country’s history -- the report says. Meanwhile, as the military shrinks in size, the connections between military members and the broader civilian population “appear to be growing more distant,” the report says.

The report was based on surveys of more than 2,000 civilian adults and almost 1,900 veterans, more than 700 of whom served after 9/11.

Among the respondents, most said they have family members who are serving in the armed forces or have served in the past. However, older Americans were considerably more likely to have close military ties.

More than three-quarters of civilian adults ages 50 and older reported having an immediate family member -- a spouse, parent, sibling or child -- who served or serves in the military. For many, that service took place before the end of the draft and the introduction of the all-volunteer force in 1973.

Only 57 percent of civilian respondents ages 30 to 49 said they had an immediate family member who served. The percentage dropped to one-third among respondents ages 18 to 29.

The report appears to confirm that for many Americans, military service is a family tradition. Seventy-nine percent of veterans surveyed reported that an immediate family member is serving or has served in the military. That compares to 61 percent among the civilian respondents.

Decisions to serve also appear to be influenced by race, region and political preference, the report showed. Sixty-eight percent of whites, 59 percent of blacks and 30 percent of Hispanic respondents reported having immediate family members who serve or have served in uniform.

Sixty-four percent of Southerners reported immediate family ties to the military. The percentage for those living in the Northeast was 56 percent, and in the West, 57 percent. City dwellers were somewhat less likely than those in the suburbs or rural areas to say a family member served in the military.

Political party also appeared to be an influencing factor. Seventy-three percent of Republicans, 59 percent of Democrats and 56 percent of Independents said an immediate family member served in the military.

The report confirmed perceptions by civilians as well as veterans that the American public doesn’t understand the problems faced by those in the military. Seventy-seven percent of veterans and 71 percent of the general public shared this view.

Retired Navy Adm. Mike Mullen spoke frequently during his tenure as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff about what he called a “worrying disconnect” between civilians and the military.

Speaking earlier this year at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., Mullen expressed concern that civilians don’t fully understand the sacrifices military members make.

"Our work is appreciated, of that I am certain,” he told members of the 2011 graduating class. “But I fear [civilians] do not know us. I fear they do not comprehend the full weight of the burden we carry or the price we pay when we return from battle.”

This is important, Mullen said, “because a people uninformed about what they are asking the military to endure is a people inevitably unable to fully grasp the scope of the responsibilities our Constitution levies upon them.”

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, speaking last month at the Woodrow Wilson Center, called the tiny percentage of Americans who make up the all-volunteer force the most important ingredient of U.S. national defense.

Panetta praised the “men and women who represent less than 1 percent of our nation, but who have shouldered the burden of protecting the American people and who have shown the strength of the American character in their willingness to put their lives on the line to defend our values, our interests and our freedom.”

The secretary emphasized the need for the country to provide them the support they deserve -- even in the face of budgetary challenges.

“The 1 percent of the country that has served in uniform, and their families, have borne the heavy costs of war for 10 years,” he said. “They cannot be expected to bear the full costs of fiscal austerity as well.”

Family Matters Blog: ‘Extreme Makeover’ Seeks Military Families for Holiday Episode

By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 28, 2011 – The cast of ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” would like to brighten the holidays for a deserving military family this year.

The reality show is seeking nominations for military families in desperate need of a home makeover. The selected family will be featured in an upcoming holiday episode.

“We want to do a holiday-themed episode that’s even bigger and more extreme than ever,” David Shumsky, the show’s casting director, said in an ABC news release. “In order to pull off such a huge venture, we need the support of the entire community. We know that the military communities will come out to help one of their own.”

The popular reality show features celebrity Ty Pennington, his design team and a host of volunteers performing a massive home makeover in just seven days. The show focuses on families whose home situation is a severe hindrance to their quality of life, Shumsky explained.

“We really want to help families whose homes present major problems for the family -- those big issues that affect the family's quality of life on a daily basis,” he said. “We want to find deserving people who just don't have the resources, ability or time to fix those serious issues without our help.

“For this special episode we’d love it if the holiday season had some special significance to the family’s story,” he added. “Maybe they have unique holiday traditions or volunteer in an organization specifically geared toward the season. Ultimately, we want to give this family the best holiday they’ve ever had.”

Families in need of a home makeover or community members who know of a deserving family are welcome to submit nominations. Nominations must include the names and ages of every household member, a description of the major challenges within the home, a short description of the family story, and a contact phone number.

People should also explain why the family is deserving, heroic or a great role model in their community and, if possible, include recent photos of the family and home. People can submit nominations via email to

For more information on how to apply, visit the show’s website at

Chairman Arrives in London for Consultations, Outreach

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

LONDON, Nov. 28, 2011 – The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff arrived here today for meetings with senior British government officials.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey also will deliver the Colin Cramphorn Memorial Lecture, sponsored by the Policy Exchange. Cramphorn was the chief constable of the West Yorkshire Police from 2002 until he died in 2006.

The lecture series has featured British and American leaders, including Marine Corps General James N. Mattis, commander of U.S. Central Command, and retired Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, now director of the CIA.

While in London, Dempsey will meet with British Prime Minister David Cameron, Defense Secretary Philip Hammond, and his counterpart, British Army Gen. Sir David Richards, chief of the Defense Staff. Richards commanded International Security Assistance Force troops in southern Afghanistan and has commanded rapid-reaction forces in Sierra Leone and East Timor. He is the highest-ranking officer in the British military.

Dempsey also will meet with the British service chiefs.

Tomorrow, the chairman will speak at a Royal United Services Institute program on women in defense and security leadership.

Enterprise Hosts Crew from Past 50 Years

From USS Enterprise Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- The world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, USS Enterprise (CVN 65), hosted nearly 1,000 former crew members Nov. 27 to kick off its two-day 50th birthday celebration that will culminate with a party in the ship's hangar bay, Nov. 28.

The celebration, which is the first for a ship serving 50 years in active service, provides an opportunity for crew members past and present to reflect on the importance of the sea power that Enterprise represents.

John D. Clark, a former photographer's mate who served onboard Enterprise from 1963 to 1965, said he was onboard Enterprise for "two Mediterranean tours and a world tour."

Current Enterprise Sailors were available throughout the day to show their predecessors around, but many times it was the veteran Sailors who ended up giving the tours as they recounted their service from a bygone era.

Although widely considered a very rewarding and, possibly, final opportunity for visiting veterans to walk the passageways of one of the most famous ships in history, the experience had an impact on current Sailors as well.

"Everyone has their own experiences and feelings about this ship," said Airman Apprentice Michael C. Kingsolver, who helped provide tours to the veterans. "It really boosts my morale to hear these veterans share their stories with me and get excited about how things used to be."

A common theme expressed by former Sailors is that while the ship has been upgraded throughout the decades to meet the changing nature of warfare, overall it is very much the same.

"To me, it's a little like spending a day with a childhood friend that you haven't seen in many years," said Dale Inman who served as a Machinist's Mate in the early 1970s. "It makes me nostalgic for the good old days. But you know what, I'll bet I could still man my station if the skipper needed me to."

As Enterprise prepares for its final deployment, deactivation and decommissioning, the opportunity for veterans of Enterprise and future veterans of the ship to meet and interact is one that will certainly be valued by all.

For more information about the USS Enterprise and events scheduled for the 50th birthday, visit, and follow us at Twitter: The CVN65 and Facebook: USS Enterprise CVN 65.