For many Americans, military service is a long-held family tradition. Studies and polls today show that the likelihood of someone joining the military is significantly increased if any of their immediate or extended family members have served or are currently serving. However, since the draft was discontinued, the pool of individuals with relatives in the military has become smaller, which is beginning to have ramifications in the recruitment process.
What influences people to join the military? Is family the only factor, or is there something else driving people to serve their country?
Sons Following Fathers
About a fourth of all boys who have fathers in the military will follow in their father’s footsteps, according to one study about children adopting their parents’ occupations. The percentage was much smaller for mothers and daughters. Another study claims that a child with a military parent (or two military parents) is five times as likely to join the military as other children.
Many veterans say it was their sibling’s military service that inspired them to join themselves. Studies have concluded that, oddly enough, sibling configuration plays a noticeable role in the likelihood of someone joining the military. Ever since military service became voluntary, older siblings have been more likely to serve than younger siblings, according to one study. This study also found that the more siblings a man has, the more likely he is to join. Women with many sisters are also more likely to join, as opposed to women with many brothers.
It’s said that military youth (affectionately referred to as brats) are twice as likely to join the military as children raised in non-military households. According to recent studies, 23 percent of all military brats go on to join the military, specifically, 52 percent of boys and 8 percent of girls. 38 percent of these join the Army and 32 percent join the Air Force.
Many military brats who don’t join the military go on to have care-related occupations, becoming doctors, teachers, or social workers, to name a few. Surveys show that military brats are generally more patriotic than their peers and have a greater sense of loyalty to their country.
Recruiting Inside and Outside the Family
According to the Pentagon, nearly 80 percent of the troops enlisted in 2012 and 2013 came from military families; in other words, they had at least one close relative in the military. For 25 percent of these, that relative was a parent.
In addition, a recent survey conducted by the Department of Defense found that more than half of all recruits had family connections to the military.
|Branch||Army||Navy||Marine Corps||Air Force|
|% of recruits with military family members||79 percent||82 percent||77 percent||86 percent|
Individuals with a family military background have a clearer understanding of military service and the weight of such a commitment. In this sense, they are better equipped to serve than individuals who have no personal experience with military service.
Since the draft ended, the military has shrunk considerably, and so there are fewer adults of enlisting age who have this kind of background. Recruiters are aware of this and have begun devising new recruitment strategies that don’t depend on family association.
Caring for the Military Family
Military families have a special place in our hearts here at Low VA Rates. With an understanding that military service affects everyone, not just the individuals serving, we exist to help veterans, their spouses, and their children live comfortable lives.