New poll shows a third of post 9/11 vets feel wars are a waste - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

New poll shows a third of post 9/11 vets feel wars are a waste

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WALLA WALLA- The poll results presented by the Pew Research Center portray post-9/11 veterans as proud of their work, scarred by warfare and convinced that the American public has little understanding of the problems that wartime service has created for military members and their families.

One in three U.S. veterans of the post-9/11 military believes the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were not worth fighting, and a majority think that after 10 years of combat America should be focusing less on foreign affairs and more on its own problems, according to an opinion survey released Wednesday.

The nonpartisan organization that studies attitudes and trends, called the study the first of its kind. The results were based on two surveys conducted between late July and mid-September. One polled 1,853 veterans, including 712 who had served in the military after 9/11 but are no longer on active duty. Of the 712 post-9/11 veterans, 336 served in Iraq or Afghanistan. The other polled 2,003 adults who had not served in the military.

The Pew survey found that veterans are ambivalent about the net value of the wars, although they generally were more positive about Afghanistan, which has been a more protracted but less deadly conflict for U.S. forces. One-third of post-9/11 veterans said neither war was worth the sacrifices; that was the view of 45 percent in the separate poll of members of the general public.

Fifty percent of veterans said Afghanistan was worth it, whereas the poll of civilians put it at 41 percent.

Among veterans, 44 percent said Iraq was worth it. That compares with 36 percent in the poll of civilians.

 The caregiver support coordinator, who often fills in as a case manager at the Walla Walla VA Medical Center says he deals with nearly 1,200 9/11 vets sees it all.

"Most of the veterans who I have spoken to are proud that they've served. They feel they've done a good deed as part of their duty to this country..and there have been a handful that I've worked with that have mixed feelings.  They don't think they should be there, they didn't want to be there but they went anyway because it was their duty," says Parker.

Nearly 4,500 U.S. troops have died in Iraq and about 1,700 in Afghanistan. Combined war costs since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks have topped $1 trillion.

 About 6-in-10 said the United States should pay less attention to problems overseas and instead concentrate on problems at home. In a Pew survey conducted earlier this year, a similar share of the general public agreed.

Although numerous polls have shown that Americans hold the military in high regard, the respondents in the Pew research acknowledged a lack of understanding of what military life entails.

Only 27 percent of adult civilians said the public understands the problems facing those in uniform, and the share of veterans who said so is even lower - 21 percent.

"I have seen a lot of veterans who talk about getting re-adjusted to getting sleep and not having to be alert, not having to check their home, every door, every window, every night to make sure its locked," says Parker of the problems the vets face.

Parker says they do offer support programs at the Walla Walla VA Medical Center specifically for those returning from Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.

He says he's glad they are able to do more for our servicemen and women than they were for vets of previous wars, simply because they know so much more now about the problems they face.