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candals in veteran care services, bloated

defense spending, declining youth interest

in military service, and abdication by Congress of

war declaration powers are but a few of the many

challenges faced by the United States military. As

with any institutional social problems, solutions to

such conditions can be perplexing to say the least.

However, as Lycoming professors, it is our job to

empower students with the analytical tools to help

effect change in social policy as voters, potential

legislators and government administrators.

This spring, students in

the course Sociology of War

and the Military analyzed

current issues facing the

United States military,

and were challenged to

analyze the facts and data

to prescribe their own

social policy framework to

determine where the greatest

need lay. To cap off the

semester, they had to write a

summary brief designed to

Echoing the concerns

of President Dwight D.

Eisenhower about the

potential for unwarranted

influence by the military,

first on their list of concerns

is defense spending and the

influence of the military-

industrial complex. The

U.S. is currently spending

more than $1 trillion on

national security in 2015.

By some accounts, this is

more than the next ten

countries’ combined military

spending. The spending is

potentially fueled by the

strong relationship between

Congress and defense

contractors and allows

the country to “go to war”

despite the fact that no

formal declaration of war

has been made by Congress.

Along with that, America

is not actually winning the

wars it wages, which raises

the question about what

Americans gain from all of

the financial output.

Recent overseas

deployments resulted in

protracted wars involving

grueling tempos for our

all-volunteer forces. As a

nation, we asked a great

deal of these military

personnel, who represent

less than one percent of the

total national population.

Students felt strongly that

veteran care should be

among our top national

priorities. Unfortunately,

the Department of Veterans

Affairs that has historically

been plagued by systemic

troubles and outright

scandals, including the

2014 VA Hospital scandal

in Phoenix and the poor

follow-up care of WWII

veterans purposely

exposed to mustard gas.

While adjustments can

ease the pressures on this


budgets, vete

Students contemplate complexities facing America’s military

persuade the reader to take

action to resolve them. The

intended reader? Who better

than the potential 2016

presidential candidates, who

also become the country’s

commander-in-chief of the

armed forces.

Reaching into a

semester’s worth of

materials, students

identified the following as

the most pressing issues.


By Susan M. Ross, Ph.D.