Working in US military is one of the riskiest jobs in America because of the regular engagement in battles compared to other military in the world.

I live in a third-world country. Even in my country, military services are considered last resorts for job-seekers.

Being one of the sensible and educated societies in the world, why Americans enroll in Military services?

I know, military services in the USA provide huge salary and benefits, but, isn't being alive more important?

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    The short answer is that the USA is not one of the most educated societies in the world, and most draftees are choosing it as a last resort—for the healthcare and education benefits that they can't get otherwise. Commented Aug 19, 2012 at 15:20
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    @SevenSidedDie The US is one of the most educated societies in the world, but punches far below its weight among wealthy nations. Also, I think you meant to say enlistees, as there has not been a draft in decades.
    – choster
    Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 4:52
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    This seems awfully close to a question asked before: history.stackexchange.com/questions/1539/…
    – MichaelF
    Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 13:03
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    This is not really a question of history, but one of contemporary culture and national psychology.
    – choster
    Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 14:51
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    The basic premise of this question is incorrect. While serving in an active warzone is dangerous, if you consider all military personnel, fishing and logging are far more dangerous.
    – gillonba
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 23:51

3 Answers 3


There are many techniques used by military recruiters. You can find a list on Wikipedia. To sum up:

  • There are a lot of very poor people in the USA too. As in your county the people recruited don't have better options. This is called "poverty draft" in many articles.
  • Recruiters give you hope that they will pay for your education
  • A recruiter interviewed in the documentary Why We Fight notes that people in his profession have "the bad reputation of used car salesmen." Military defenders argue that the bad actions of a few shouldn't taint the whole. Counter-recruiters argue that high pressure on recruiters creates systemic dishonesty. The U.S. Army shut down its entire recruitment apparatus for a single day in 2005 in order to "refocus" on ethical conduct.
  • Recruiters often suggest that personal and technical skills learned in the military will improve later employment prospects in civilian life, with very similar skills utilized for nursing and electronic and mechanical repair.
  • The military inaccurately promotes a "romanticized" view of combat - using catchphrases such as honor, courage, and service - and glosses over death, injury, and civilian suffering, in order to give recruits a "soft" vision of the job.
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    Take a look at the armed forces' slogans: The few. The proud. The Marines. (Marines) ; Army Strong (Army) ; Accelerate your life (Navy) ; No one comes close (Air Force) ; Semper Paratus (Latin for "always ready") (Coast Guard) .
    – Luke_0
    Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 14:54

According to this paper from Penn's Population Studies Center, perhaps to go somewhere safer?

But it is not difficult to find conditions equivalent to combat in American cities. In Philadelphia, the death rate for black males aged 20-34 in 2002 was 4.37/1000, 11% higher than for troops in Iraq. A slight majority of the deaths were from homicide (Philadelphia Department of Public Health, n.d.)

  • Well at least some people are better off in the military.
    – Dale
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 16:42

America is a country born in revolution and come of age in civil war.

Basically, it was a country that was "settled" by people who liked to fight, and who were "troublemakers" in their home country. Which is why an embryonic nation could wage a war against its mother country and win. This was true not only of the original settlers, but of most of the people that followed. Their heirs inherited their genes, and probably a number of "traditions" that sprung from that way of thinking.

There is a great gap between rich and poor in the United States. Poor people (African-Americans in inner cities, poor whites in the countryside) live in areas where there is a lot of "gang-fighting" or "brawling." For such people to serve in the military is for them to get (relatively) good pay to live a life like the one they are used to.

Many of these poor Americans are willing to "go for broke" to get rich. This do-or-die mentality was the motto of the 442nd (Japanese-American) Regimental Combat Team of Senator Daniel K. Inouye. The military (and the wild west) is in a sense, an expression of the American way of life.

As for risks, probably Patrick Henry spoke (in 1775) for many (later) Americans when he shouted: "Give me liberty or give me death."

There was a Roman saying, "dulcet et decorum est pro patria morir." (It is a sweet and beautiful thing to die for one's country.) On the surface, it seems like a form of patriotism, but is real meaning may be, "the Roman standard of living so much higher than every one else's that I'd rather be a dead Roman than say, a live (and probably enslaved) Carthaginian." As members of the richest and most powerful country in the world, Americans often feel that way.

As for Australians (to answer questions in the comments), the ethos is quite similar. The continent was initially settled by "convicts," people who liked to wield arms almost by definition. This ethos is exemplified in the following Australian song: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wild_Colonial_Boy

It's about a robber who would rather fight at the odds of one to three than to surrender (and be hanged). He gets to shoot one of the cops in exchange for his own life. Modern Australians (like modern Americans) are the descendants of such people (the survivors, that is).

  • Can we say the same thing about Australia? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convicts_in_Australia Commented Aug 19, 2012 at 20:35
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    @VitalijZadneprovskij: Possibly, but probably to a lesser extent.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Aug 19, 2012 at 20:38
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    This smacks of ahistorical exceptionalism. How do the vast sea of post-Revolution immigrants fit into that story? Or African Americans, who are disproportionately represented in the Army? Commented Aug 19, 2012 at 23:56
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    @VitalijZadneprovskij: Australia as a country possesses a very similar attitude as the USA. For example, their policy of handling indigenous people and immigrants are very similar. As to say about foreign policy, they are one of the most active allies of USA in Afghanistan and also participated in Iraq.
    – user806
    Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 12:25
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    @TomAu, I think this is slightly wrong. If anything, the US had one of the most legal and "happy" revolutions ever. In fact, you could say that China is a bloodier place since the Boxer rebellion, Taiping rebellion, Civil war...were all bloodier than Americans wars. To combat you quotes, I quote Mao Zi Dong: "A revolution is not the same as inviting people to dinner...A revolution is an act of violence by which one class overthroughs another. But, China is not a blood thirsty place, nether is America. Anything can be stated and backed up with rationalization, but rationalization is a fallacy.
    – Russell
    Commented Aug 21, 2012 at 14:00