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Iraq War Fought by Rural Soldiers

On Veteran's Day, we gratefully remember the many soldiers, who have made sacrifices for us. Today's rural Americans, however, are making the ultimate sacrifice in larger numbers than the rest of the country. Rural areas account for only 19% of the adult population, but have suffered 26% of the casualties.

William P. O'Hare, of the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire, says, "As we observe Veteran's Day this year, it is important for Americans to recognize that rural families are paying a disproportionately high price for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."

According to U.S. Department of Defense records, of the 4,197 American military deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, 1,102 are accounted for by soldiers from rural areas. That represents a death rate of 31 per million among rural men and women, compared to a death rate of 21 per million for urbanites?a significant increase since October 2006, when the death rate was 24 per million for rural residents and 15 per million for urbanites.

For the second year, Vermont had the highest rural death toll at 61 killed per million adults. As a result, Vermont?s combined rural and urban statewide death toll was 47 killed per million adults, the highest of any state in the nation. Delaware had the second highest rural death rate at 60 killed per million adults. Nebraska (57 killed per million adults) and Oregon (56 per million) followed.

The unemployment rate among 18?24-year-olds is 9% in rural America compared to seven percent in urban areas. O"Hare and co-author Bill Bishop found that higher death rates for soldiers from rural areas are linked to the higher rate of enlistment of young adults from rural America, which in turn is often linked to diminished opportunities there. O'Hare says, "Transitioning from youth to adulthood is more problematic in the rural US because there are fewer job opportunities."

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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