The Varieties of Veteran Experience: Peacetime Cold War Military Service and Later Life Attainment

MacLean, Alair
Working paper no. 2004-15


In this paper I examine the effects of peacetime Cold War military service on the life course according to five hypotheses that state that the armed forces: 1. disrupted veterans’ lives; 2. provided veterans with an apprenticeship program; 3. enabled veterans to benefit from additional education; 4. reproduced civilian status; and/or 5. reflected the process of selection into military service. The findings at least partly correspond with the status reproduction and selection hypotheses. In addition, more educated veterans and veterans who became officers benefited from their service. These findings suggest that military service did not substitute for, but rather supplemented a college degree.