From Citizen Soldier to Secular Saint: The Societal Implications of Military Exceptionalism (Spring 2021)

Bryant, Susan
Swaney, Brett
Urben, Heidi
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Texas National Security Review
For nearly 40 years, the American public has placed extraordinary trust and confidence in the military, celebrating heroism and service in diverse venues ranging from religious services to theme parks to sporting events. Survey after survey has shown that Americans revere their military, at least superficially. How members of the military feel about their own service, sacrifices, and relationship to the rest of society has been an open question. To help explore these questions, we surveyed more than 1,200 midgrade to senior military officers and West Point cadets between 2017 and 2020 regarding their political views, their sacrifices, and their pride in service. In addition to confirming past research indicating that servicemembers are increasingly isolated and have a growing sense of exceptionalism, our results also indicate that the attitudes of military elites who are in the minority in terms of race, gender, and political views vary considerably at times from their majority peers, raising questions about the degree of inclusivity within the ranks today. Facebook ShareLinkedin Share