Looking at the conflicts individually, 50% of post-9/11 veterans say the decade-old war in Afghanistan has been worth fighting and 44% view the 8½-year-old conflict in Iraq the same way—approval levels that are nine and eight percentage points higher, respectively, than among the general public. Post-9/11 veterans also assess these wars somewhat more favorably than do veterans who served prior to the terrorist attacks a decade ago.
Post-9/11 veterans are more apt than the general public to say the military operates efficiently—67% vs. 58%. A majority (54%) of post-9/11 veterans think people generally get ahead in the military based on their hard work and ability, though veterans who served before 9/11 are more likely to say this (63%). By comparison, Americans overall are split 48%-48% on whether people generally get ahead in their job or career on the basis of hard work and ability…
Veterans who served after Vietnam but before 9/11 hold similar views to the post-9/11 veterans, except somewhat fewer of the older veterans express no opinion one way or the other: 50% say Afghanistan has been worth it, 47% disagree and 3% don’t know; 45% say Iraq has been worth fighting, 53% say it has not and 2% don’t know. That leaves 34% of the post-Vietnam and pre-9/11 veterans saying both wars have been worth fighting and 37% saying neither war has been worthwhile.
Older veterans voice less approval of the effort in Afghanistan; just 33% who served before Vietnam say that war has been worth fighting, as do 39% of Vietnam veterans. By contrast, half of those who served subsequently say the Afghanistan War has been worth it. Nearly six-in-ten who served before and during Vietnam say Afghanistan has not been worth fighting (59% and 58%, respectively).