October 5, 2011

War and Sacrifice in the Post-9/11 Era

Executive Summary

The report is based on two surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center: one of the nation’s military veterans and one of the general public. A total of 1,853 veterans were surveyed, including 712 who served in the military after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The general public survey was conducted among 2,003 adult respondents. (For a detailed description of the survey methodologies, see Appendix 1.)

Here is a summary of key findings:

The Rewards and Burdens of Military Service

The Military-Civilian Gap

Post-9/11 Veterans and Their Wars

A Profile of Post-9/11 Veterans

A Profile of Today’s Active-duty Force


About the Data

This report draws on data collected from multiple sources by the Pew Research Center. Findings on the attitudes and experiences of veterans are based on a Pew Research survey of military veterans that used standard sampling and telephone interviewing techniques and online interviewing with a nationally representative sample of post-9/11 veterans. Attitudes of the public are based on a nationally representative survey of the general population that asked many of the same questions that were posed to veterans. These surveys were supplemented by data from the Department of Defense.

The Veterans Survey (V)

The attitudes of veterans reported in this study are based on a nationally representative sample of 1,853 men and women who served in the military and are no longer on active duty. The sample included 1,134 who were discharged from the military prior to Sept. 11, 2001, and 712 veterans who served after 9/11. (Seven veterans declined to answer when they served.)

The margin of sampling error for results based on the entire sample of veterans is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points; the margin of sampling error for the pre-9/11 sample is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points; and the margin of sampling error for those who served after 9/11 is plus or minus 5.7 percentage points.

Veterans were interviewed by telephone or via the internet. A total of 1,639 interviews were conducted over the telephone under the direction of Social Science Research Solutions (SSRS). Respondents had been identified as veterans in earlier surveys conducted by SSRS and the Pew Research Center and were re-contacted for the veterans survey. Of the total sample, 1,307 telephone interviews were conducted on landline telephones and 332 on cell phones. Interviewing for the telephone survey was conducted from July 28 to Sept. 4, 2011. These interviews were supplemented by 214 interviews with veterans who served after 9/11 and are part of random sample panel of households maintained by the research firm Knowledge Networks. These online interviews were collected Aug. 18-31, 2011.

The two data sets were combined and the entire sample weighted by SSRS to match known demographic characteristics of the veterans population as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau. In addition, the post-9/11 oversample was weighted back to reflect its correct proportion of the overall veterans population. A detailed explanation of the survey methodologies and weighting strategy employed in this study is in Appendix 1.

The General Population Survey (GP)

Results reported for the general population are based on telephone interviews conducted with a nationally representative sample of 2,003 adults ages 18 or older living in the continental United States. A combination of landline and cellular random digit dial (RDD) samples was used to represent all adults in the continental United States who have access to either a landline or cellular telephone. A total of 1,203 interviews were conducted via landline and 800 on a cell phone. The interviews were conducted in English and Spanish by Princeton Data Source on Sept. 1-15, 2011. The margin of sampling error for the overall sample is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

Demographic Data

The demographic profile of the active-duty military presented in Chapter 6 is primarily based on the latest available data published by the Department of Defense. Data on the characteristics of the Active Duty and Selected Reserve forces came from Demographics 2009: Profile of the Military Community. These data were supplemented by information from Population Representation in the Military Services 2009, also published by the Defense Department. Casualty data and statistics on participation in wars came from the Department of Defense web page Defense Personnel and Procurement Statistics Principal Wars in which the United States Participated-U.S. Military Personnel Serving and Casualties http://siadapp.dmdc.osd.mil/personnel/CASUALTY/castop.htm.

  1. Figures for active-duty military personnel in this section are based on data published by the Department of Defense.