Most Americans would discourage a young person close to them from enlisting in the military, but a wide majority would encourage them to join as an officer, according to a new Rand Corp. study published this week.
The study found that 54.4% of respondents would dissuade a 17-year-old relative from joining the military as an enlisted service member, though nearly two-thirds of Americans would encourage them to go the officer route, either through a service academy or the Reserve Officer Training Corps, also known as ROTC.
The study comes amid one of the worst recruiting periods the all-volunteer military has known, with most branches failing to meet goals for signing Americans up to serve. Meanwhile, Rand also analyzed public perceptions of veterans, which were “overwhelmingly positive,” according to the report.
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The report cited the services' current recruiting crisis as a reflection of public perception about the military, with dwindling confidence in the armed forces, the end of the war in Afghanistan, politicization of the military, and polarization of the general public all as contributors to wavering esteem for a typically bulletproof institution.
“At the same time, military propensity — the likelihood that young Americans will enlist in the military — and general confidence in the military are…