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  Chapter Eleven:
 
GOVERNMENT
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  Government Spending
  Government Employees
  Federal Entitlements
  Federal Judiciary
  Military Personnel
  Blacks in the Military
  Women in the Military
  War Deaths
  Veterans
  Patriotic Attitudes

  

 

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GOVERNMENT

Veterans

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Veterans made up a large part of the civilian male population during the second half of the century.
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By 1900, most of the Union veterans of the Civil War were dead. The government did not count Confederate veterans, but most of them were deceased as well. The forces engaged in the Spanish-American War were quite small. By 1910, only one of twenty-five American men had seen military service, the lowest proportion since the founding of the Republic. 

That changed in 1917. Five million men served in World War I. In the course of World War II, more than 16 million men, mostly young, were inducted into the armed forces. Five million men served during the Korean War. By 1960, 40 percent of American men over age eighteen—and a much higher proportion of those in their thirties and forties—had served in the military. As World War I veterans died, Vietnam veterans took their place. Almost 9 million Americans served in the armed forces during the Vietnam era. 

The median age of veterans oscillated with the incidence of war and passage of time. It declined from sixty-seven years in 1910 to twenty-seven years in 1920 and then rose from thirty-two years in 1950 to sixty-one years in 1998. In the last decade of the century, many World War II veterans reached their eighties, and the veteran population diminished from year to year. 

Generous veterans’ benefits had important consequences. Employers in both the public and private sectors gave hiring preferences to veterans, which helped to maintain support for the armed forces throughout the long Cold War. The G.I. Bill sent millions of men back to school for advanced education and permanently enlarged American colleges and universities. Mortgages guaranteed by the Veterans Administration made home ownership possible for families with relatively low incomes and strongly encouraged suburban growth.


Chapter 11 chart 9

Source Notes
Source Abbreviations

HS series A 119–134 and Y 856–903; SA 1987, table 563; and SA 1999, table 601.

 

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