Caught up in the fervor of the anti-war/anti-Bush movement, some prominent democrats (Namely Charlie Rangel) and Michael's Moore's Fahrenheit 911 made claims that the military is primarily made up of undereducated, poor, urban minorities. This notion somehow took hold and many Americans cling to this belief. It's not true.
A new study done by the Heritage Foundation, that was meant to counter calls for a draft, is long but a fascinating read.
"Representative Rangel’s theory is that if all citizens faced equal prospects of dying in a conflict, support for that conflict would have to pass a higher standard. This theory assumes that the privileged classes would be less willing to commit the nation to war if that conflict involved personal, familial, or class bloodshed. It also assumes that the existing volunteers are either ignorant or lack other options—that is, they are involuntary participants. One way to test this thesis is to explore the demographic patterns of enlisted recruits before and after the initiation of the global war on terrorism on September 11, 2001." (source)
"A disproportionate number of the poor and members of minority groups make up the enlisted ranks of the military, while most privileged Americans are underrepresented or absent." -Charlie Rangel, NY (D)
According to this in-depth study, the troops of the United States Armed Services are actually higher educated than the general public. 98% have high school diplomas or higher, whereas in the civilian public only 75% have this level of education. Recruits were also found to be from primarily rural and not urban areas. House income levels of the troops matches that of the general population for the most part, but in direction opposition to what has been said by anti-military opponents --"There are slightly higher proportions of recruits from the middle class and slightly lower proportions from low-income brackets. However, the proportion of high-income recruits rose to a disproportionately high level after the war on terrorism began, as did the proportion of highly educated enlistee."
Addressing claims that minorities (and specifically blacks as shown in Fahrenheit 911) are carrying the burden of the WOT..."We found that whites are one of the most proportionally represented groups—making up 77.4 percent of the population and 75.8 percent of all recruits—whereas other racial categories are often represented in noticeably higher and lower proportions than the general population." (source)
Due to statements like those that have been made by top Democratic leaders and the propaganda in Moore's film, many Americans have erroneous ideas about our military. They believe they are of inferior intelligence, yet their education level is higher than the general public. They believe the military is made up of minorities while "rich, white, educated" kids never enlist...this also isn't true (actually since 9/11 the Army has a higher recruitment of enlistees from high income brackets with Bachelor Degrees. Wouldn't you think the media would be reporting this, breaking the story of our above-average military?
Linked at Stop the ACLU