Regarding the Nov. 4 front-page article "Youths in Rural U.S. Are Drawn to Military":
Staff writer Ann Scott Tyson made some good points. However, she and many others who pore over the statistics seem to neglect the cultural factor. Southerners of all economic backgrounds tend to view military service as a noble rite of passage, not a thankless sacrifice.
The article on military recruits did not reflect today's all-volunteer armed forces.
Readers might conclude that military recruiters are enlisting primarily from "economically depressed, rural areas." In fact, more Virginia recruits come from Virginia Beach, an urban area, than anywhere else in the state; the median household income in Virginia Beach is above national and state averages. Fairfax City ranks seventh among Virginia locations for enlistments, and it also is an urban area with a median household income of $70,000. The report on military recruiting that was cited says that 81.2 percent of recruits come from metropolitan areas.
Lastly, the article said that the Army "accepted its least qualified pool in a decade . . . taking in more youths scoring in the lowest category of aptitude test." In fact, the Army does not accept those who score in the lowest two categories of the military aptitude test. Further, every enlistee has graduated high school or earned a GED. Fifty-one percent of the Army's enlisted ranks joined after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. They're proud to serve this nation and can be counted among our true heroes.
Public Affairs Officer