Like much of the rest of the country, a substantial number of American veterans of war in Iraq and Afghanistan don’t think the 10-year effort has been worth the cost.
While those who entered military service after 9/11 generally have a more positive attitude toward the US role in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pew Research Center reported Wednesday, “only one-third (34%) of these recent veterans say that both wars have been worth fighting.” The report also says, “Nearly as many (33%) say neither conflict has been worth the costs.”
When the wars are considered individually, 50 percent said the Afghanistan war was worth fighting and 44 percent said the Iraq war was worth it. But 51 percent of post-9/11 veterans said "overreliance on military force creates hatred that breeds terrorism," while just 4 in 10 said "overwhelming military force is the best way to defeat terrorism."
As with past wars, the trauma of combat can lead to lingering and deeply personal questions about the war itself.
More than 6,000 US service members have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and most veterans of those wars have served with or known somebody killed in combat. Many thousands more have been affected by these wars' distinct injuries, mainly due to roadside bombs – lost limbs, traumatic brain injury, and post-traumatic stress. With modern medical treatment facilities close to the battlefield, the ratio of those who survive despite serious wounds compared with fatal casualties is higher than in previous wars.