1 year 11 months and 11 days was enough to convince me I was a natural-born civilian (despite being descended from folks Sen. Webb says were "born fighting"). So I've always been ambivalent about the military. Freakonomics has an interesting post on a Heritage study of the nature of today's military, specifically who serves. (Every candidate with kids old enough has a child who served/is serving in Iraq. That seems a long ways away from the 1980's and 90's.)
There's suspicion over the figures voiced both in the post and the comments. I suspect myself that you have to get into the boondocks of the data to really understand.