After 9/11, inequalities emerge in war sacrifices. best state
In the 20 years since the September 11 terrorist attacks, more than 7,000 US military service members have been killed in connection with related conflicts abroad. But as these wars progressed, most of the population remained untouched by the sacrifices made by the members of the army.
Wars saw tens or hundreds of thousands of American military deaths during the 20th century. The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan resulted in very few deaths.
But the number of service member deaths alone doesn’t tell the full story of America’s post-September. 11 Struggle. The sacrifices that are overlooked include the loss of contractors’ lives – more than 8,000 – or an epidemic of suicide among the veterans of these wars. At least 30,000 veterans of the War on Terror have taken their own lives, more than five times the number of people killed in action, according to a study published in Brown University’s Cost of War Project.
The damage the military has suffered on the battlefield is more concentrated to specific communities than casualties in past wars.
Douglas Kriner, a professor of political science at Cornell University, analyzed this “casualty gap” in a 2010 book he co-authored examining fatalities among service members from the early years of the War on Terror. While the Department of Defense does not publish data on the socioeconomic status of fallen service members, Kriner and his colleagues were able to examine the characteristics of the service members’ home counties.
Based on the data they analyzed, Kriner and his co-author Francis Shen found that counties with higher rates of mortality were more likely to have lower median incomes than counties with fewer casualties per capita. This inequality has increased with each conflict since World War II.
A US news analysis of Defense Department data on 2001–2021 casualties indicated that as of September 7 of this year, the same was true. Of the 100 counties with the highest rates of fatalities, more than half had median income levels that fell to the bottom half of all county median incomes across the United States.
Kriner says the reasons for this disparity vary, but the way service members are selected is a major driver. The change from a draft to a voluntary military force is among the factors that have created a disconnect between the majority of the public and those who make the greatest sacrifices.
“Some of us have been more untouched and some of us have been more exposed,” Kriner says. “It creates a different kind of inequality that shapes how we think about these conflicts.”
For example, Kriner says polling indicates communities that experienced more casualties were more likely to support former President Donald Trump.
American communities affected by the violence of war have not only lost their lives, but have also seen returning soldiers suffer traumatic injuries. Linda Bilms, a professor of public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, studies the human costs of war, including the effects of nonfatal casualties.
As modern medicine and treatment allowed more veterans to survive the once fatal injuries, more service members were able to return home, often only to be re-employed. As a result, soldiers serving in these conflicts saw more combat — and potentially more injuries — than in previous wars.
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