Public Remains Highly Critical of Government Care for Troops

  • March 19, 2008

A year after the problems at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and other military hospitals made major news, the public remains highly critical of the government's performance in supporting and caring for soldiers who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Fully 72% say the government does not give enough support to soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is unchanged from March 2007. In addition, just 29% rate the government's job of providing medical care for the returning troops as excellent or good, while 63% rate it as only fair or poor. These opinions about the medical care for returning troops also have changed little since last March.

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Feb. 20-24 among 1,508 Americans, finds that opinions about the government's handling of care for returning troops are divided along partisan lines, with Republicans less critical than Democrats of the government's care of the troops. Nonetheless, 62% of Republicans say the government does not provide enough support for the returning troops, while just 32% say it does. Roughly three-quarters of Democrats (76%) and independents (74%) say the government does not do enough for soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As the war in Iraq enters its sixth year, half of the public says the American people give enough support to soldiers, while 46% disagree. This is virtually the same as a year ago; in March 2007, 51% said Americans gave enough support, while 44% said they did not. Notably, there are no significant differences in opinion on this question by party or ideology.

Read the full report Public Continues to Fault Government for Troop Care on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press Web site.