Resources > Data Briefs
LSAY Participants' Military Experiences
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Each fall while they were in school, the LSAY participants were asked about their plans for the future, including whether they thought they might have served in the military by the time they were 40 years old. During their senior year in high school (1989 for Cohort One and 1992 for Cohort Two), 11 percent of the participants expected to have served in the military by the time they were 40. High school boys (16 percent) were significantly more likely than girls (5 percent) to have plans for military service (see Figure 1).
The US military saw limited engagements in Libya, Bolivia, the Persian Gulf and Panama during the three years prior to Cohort One’s graduation. The three years prior to Cohort Two’s graduation included Operation Just Cause in Panama, the First Gulf War in Iraq, and several relief operations (including those in Bangladesh, Haiti, Sierra Leone, and the former Soviet states). Significantly more seniors planned to join the military in 1989 (12 percent) than in 1992 (9 percent—see Figure 2).
Figure 2: Plans for Military Service by Age 40, 12th Grade LSAY Participants, by Cohort.
While the LSAY participants are not yet 40, they are close to that age. When data collection resumed in 2007, the participants were, on average, between 32 and 35 years old. By 2007, 8 percent of the participants had actually seen active duty (see Figure 3). Again, significantly more men than women joined the military (12 percent versus 4 percent) and have seen combat (6 percent versus 1 percent). Interestingly, only 43 percent of the participants who thought that they might join the military when they were seniors actually did, while only 35 percent of the participants who did join had thought they might as high school seniors.
Figure 3: Reported Military Service in 2007, LSAY Participants.
Of the participants who have served in the military, 65 percent think that they received training that has been useful in their current occupation. For those who have seen combat, the same percentage found their military training and education to be useful (see Figure 4). A significantly higher percentage of participants who served for more than four years found their in-service training and education to be useful than those who served for only four years or less (71 percent versus 59 percent). Having more years in service would allow for more training opportunities. Among participants who served for four years or less, there is no significant difference in the percentage who found their military training and education to be useful between overseas combat veterans and the entire group of those who served.
Figure 4: Have Found Military Training Useful After Service, LSAY Participants.
Prepared by Linda Kimmel and Marian Mitchell