Serving in the military in an active combat zone puts young men in harm’s way. The
number of U.S. casualties from wars starting with the Revolutionary War (an estimated
25,000) through the current “War on Terror”–Afganistan and Iraq combined–(5,200)
is well documented. Actually, the Civil War (625,000 casualties) was the bloodiest,
though only 213,000 were attributed to combat itself.
Wars were always bloody, but today’s are nastier than ever due to the variety of
weapons and the fanaticism of the enemies motivated by extreme religions (e.g.,
suicide bombers). Actually, the number of deaths in the current War on Terror
(Afganistan and Iraq combined) has been relatively small, but the number of wounded
is nearly eight times the number of deaths, which serves as a constant reminder that
likely discourages enlistment. And while it is hard to prove it conclusively, today’s
wounded veterans may be less proud of serving their country than earlier wars’ veterans.
There have been relatively few American women killed in combat throughout history, though it has increased in recent years. The total of 143 as of April 1, 2013 is small relative to men. So it continues to be predominantly young men who die young.