Two young veterans in Michigan share their stories
There are close to 22 million veterans in the U.S., and around 1.7 million of them are less than 35 years old.
These young veterans volunteered for the military. And their reasons for joining depended on any number of things: a personal sense of duty to serve their country; following in a family member's footsteps; joining up with trusted friends; a chance to see the world; or a shot at a better life.
Whatever the reason, there's no doubt about the sacrifices these service members and their families have made.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have largely been sustained by multiple deployments from military personal, long tours, and shorter times between deployments. And the more deployments, the higher the risk.
Bernard Rostker is a Senior Fellow at the Rand Corporation and author of a book on the all-volunteer military. He said that over the last ten years, researchers were surprised by the number of people re-enlisting.
"This war was sustained not by recruiting, but by re-enlistments, and that surprised a lot of us who had been in the business a long time. The notion that a career military force would go to war and that they would then re-up at much higher rates, and that’s what we saw," said Rostker.
"Units that had re-enlistment goals, were achieving 125% of their re-enlistment goal," he said.
When I asked him why so many people re-upped, Rostker said it had a lot to do with today's military being a professional force.
"They had joined the military, because they wanted to join the military, and they were doing what they had been trained to do," said Rostker. "They were not just sitting around at garrison, they were out eagerly involved."
If you ask Captain Brandon Petrick and Staff Sergeant Vic Anthony Sasota at the Army's Great Lakes Battalion Lansing Company recruiting office, they likely would agree with Rostker.
They both served multiple tours in these wars.
You can hear part of my conversation with them (edited for radio) above.