Civilian Military Divide (Part 1) - 3:38
with Phillip Carter, Director of the Military, Veterans, and Society Program at CNAS
Posted Nov 02, 2017
1.1 percent of the population serves in the active-duty or reserve components of the U.S. military, or as Department of Defense civilians. Phillip Carter, Director of the Military, Veterans, and Society Program at the Center for a New American Security joins Robert Traynham for a discussion, detailing the civilian-military divide and how stakeholders on all sides can help narrow it. This discussion continues in part 2 of Civilian Military Divide.
Hosted by: Robert Traynham Produced by: Beltway Newsmakers Team
Robert: A 2017 study by the Center for a New American Security found that just 7% of the nation's population are veterans, a gap amplifying many Americans being unfamiliar with military life and culture. Hello, everyone, and welcome to Comcast Newsmakers. I'm Robert Traynham. Joining me is Phil Carter. He's the director of the Military Veterans in Society Program at the Center for a New American Security. Phil, welcome to the program. Phil: Thanks, Robert. Robert: Why is that gap so large with respect to people not being familiar with military life and culture Phil: [00:00:30] There's this divide that we call the civil-military divide, and it's essentially the gap between those who serve or have served in uniform and the rest of society. Right now, we think that gap is large because for 70 or so years, the US has not had conscription with the exception of the Vietnam conflict and the Korean War, and some level of peace-time draft since then. The military is small relative to the overall population of America.[00:01:00] The military is concentrated in bases around the country. They're generally not in big cities by design. You can't have a big training area in the middle of Manhattan. Robert: Is it safe to assume, Phil, that because there's not a shared sacrifice, if you will ... For example, during World War II, as I understand it, there were many, many Americans, even if you were not serving in the military that experienced the world on a daily basis, whether it was seeing the ships sailing up and down the river coming out of your ports, or perhaps maybe you worked in the factories, [00:01:30] or perhaps maybe you had a victory guard ...In other words, we were all in this together, and so everyone kind of knew that this was a joint-victory effort, if you will. Phil: It's shared sacrifice, but it's also shared experience. There's something that's very viscerable about the military experience and understanding what it's like to leave your community, go off to basic training, serve, sometimes go into harm's way, and then come home. There's something about understanding that experience that is meaningful, and [00:02:00] it's largely absent from today's society.If 93% of Americans have not served, if you go into a classroom or a workplace or a restaurant, you're unlikely to see a person on the other side of the table who has had that same experience as you have. Robert: We know that our military is an all-civilian force. It's also a volunteer force. We also know that our military is, they're stretched and pulled in many different directions. I'm not sure we know, exactly, all the things that the folks [00:02:30] that wear our uniform do on a daily basis. How do we bridge the divide here Phil: It's a great question, because absent a war on the size of World War II and conscription, you're not going to fully bridge this divide. I think one, it's by having employers and universities, some of the major institutions in the civilian sector do what they can to bring their veterans and their non-veterans together in the workforce, to build affinity groups within companies to share experiences, to highlight the experiences of veterans that work in companies and lead and succeed [00:03:00] within those organizations. I think second, media organizations can do a great deal of good here by sharing and highlighting stories that connect people, even though they haven't had that shared experience. And, I think there's a role for veterans like me to play, too, to take leadership roles in our society, to share our experiences, and be very open about this so that we help to bridge that divide through what we do and say as well. Robert: Can I expand on something you just mentioned I was always told, and maybe this is just an ignorance on my part, that many veterans do not want to talk about their service, they ... [00:03:30] Especially if it was, in fact, a painful experience for them. So, it's best just for them to get back into society and for them to kind of move on with their lives. Is that not accurate Phil: I think diplomatic or friendly conversations is always okay. There's a way into the conversation, too, to say, instead of, "What was it like to kill someone " maybe say, "Hey, tell me about it. What did you do in the service I'd like to hear more."A friendly conversation's always welcome, and I think that these kinds of bridges can be built between all people, [00:04:00] and that veterans don't just want to hear, "Thank you for your service," but they want to be engaged and made to feel part of their community. Robert: Phil, are there any other programs that you're working on that we should know about Phil: We're doing some research right now on the future of the all-volunteer force, looking at how it's going to evolve to meet tomorrow's threats. We're also looking at the relationship between universities and the military, seeing that as one of the long-term cornerstones of the civil-military relationship, and then focusing some work on the future of the VA and how it needs to evolve to meet the needs of today's veterans and also those of tomorrow. Robert: From what I've [00:04:30] read, the soldier of tomorrow is going to look much differently than the soldier of yesterday in terms of being nimble, multi-tasking, actually having a STEM background ... Science, technology, engineering and math, and even, sometimes, maybe even a gaming background when it comes to flying drones and so forth. Is your research showing the same exact thing or something different Phil: Our research suggests that tomorrow's soldier needs to be a pentathlete, that tomorrow's conflict may be cyber, it may be counterinsurgency like what we did in Iraq or Afghanistan, it may be high-end conflict with a near [00:05:00] peer like Russia or China. So, you need to be all of the above in order to succeed in tomorrow's battlefield. That has implications for the military. It also has profound implications for society when those folks come home. We need to begin thinking about what we need to do today to prepare the VA and to prepare society to receive tomorrow's veterans. Robert: Phil, if anyone out there that's watching this program has any questions, where can they go to seek more information Phil: Our website for the Center for a New American Security,, has all of our reports as well as our recent commentaries [00:05:30] and insights on these issues. Robert: Phil Carter, thank you very much for joining us. Really appreciate it. Phil: Thank you. Robert: And thank you for joining us as well. For more great conversations with leaders in your community and across the nation, visit I'm Robert Traynham. How did we do

Other videos hosted By Robert Traynham

Overburdened Renters

"Twenty-five million Americans pay more than half of their income to rent. A discussion with Ali Solis of Make Room on efforts to give a voice to America's working poor and work toward a collective solution to help our economy thrive. Interview recorded September 6, 2017.  Hosted by Robert Traynham. Read a partial transcript of this interview below: Traynham:   11.4 million households in America spend more than half of their income on rent and utilities. And as the nation's population continues to grow, so will the number of overburdened renters. Hello, everyone and welcome to ""Comcast Newsmakers."" I'm Robert Traynham. Joining me is Ali Solis, president and CEO of Make Room. Ali, welcome to the program. It's always good to see you. Let me start off by stating the obvious -- More and more Americans feel squeezed. They're working harder for less, in terms of what they bring home. As I mentioned a few moments ago, a lot of people -- too many people -- are spending half -- half of their income on utilities and rent. How can this be Solis: That's right. This is a growing crisis in America, where we have 25 million Americans, eight million children, two million seniors impacted by this crisis. And they are, you know, paying, as you mentioned, more than half of their income to rent. And this is a problem that's growing. By 2025, we expect that we'll have 15 million households. Traynham: 15 million Solis: 15 million households, and that's assuming that we can keep pace with rising rents and address -- Traynham: Utilities. Solis: Exactly -- rising rents and utilities. Traynham: So, here is the magic question. How can we -- How do we address this So we know what the problem is. And what's interesting about this dilemma, I find, is that it's not that people are not working. They're working. They're contributing to society. But if they can't keep ends -- They can't make ends meet, what's the solution Solis: Yeah. Most of these families are working, often, two and three jobs just to make rent affordable. And the problem is not just one that we're seeing in big urban centers, like San Francisco or New York, but it's affecting small towns, small communities. I was just in Erie, Pennsylvania, a place where people wouldn't think that there was an affordable rental crisis, or Detroit, Michigan. So this is a challenge that's impacting communities big and small. Traynham: You know, Ali, I want to hit pause there for a second, 'cause I think this is really important to stress what you just said. This is not just a New York, San Francisco, Miami, you know, major metropolitan city issue. To your point, Erie, Pennsylvania, some of the rural areas in this country are also being affected by this. Solis: That's correct. Traynham: So let's talk a little bit about Make Room, specifically what do you do, and how can you help address this problem Solis: So, Make Room is a national organization whose purpose is to un-hide this human suffering that's happening behind closed doors for all of these millions of Americans. We're trying to give voice to a population that isn't necessarily well represented. They are the working poor in America. And so we are sharing their stories, and we are asking overburdened renters all across the country to join us through our digital platform to be able to have regular conversations with their policymakers at the local and federal levels. Traynham: So, you mentioned sharing stories, and for the folks that are watching this at home, or, perhaps, maybe, on their smart device, if you have a story that you would like to share, Ali, how can they do that Solis: Well, we'd encourage you to go to and share your story. We provide incentives. We also provide information so that you can meet neighbors in other communities that are struggling with similar stories. And we also have policymakers engaged through the platform, as well, because it's important for them to understand what's happening in these communities.  "
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