WASHINGTON — One in three U.S. veterans of the post-9/11 military believes the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were not worth fighting, and a majority think that after 10 years of combat America should be focusing less on foreign affairs and more on its own problems, according to an opinion survey released Wednesday.
The poll results presented by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center portray the veterans as proud of their work, scarred by warfare and convinced the American public has little understanding of the problems that wartime service has created for military members and their families.
The survey showed veterans are more likely than Americans as a whole to call themselves Republicans and to disapprove of President Barack Obama's performance as commander in chief. They also are more likely than earlier generations of veterans to have no religious affiliation.
The Pew Research Center polled 1,853 veterans, including 712 who served in the military after 9/11 but are no longer on active duty. About half of the 712 served in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Nearly half of post-9/11 veterans said deployments strained their relationship with their spouses, and a similar share reported problems with their children. But 60 percent also said they and their families benefited financially from having served abroad in a combat zone.
There are about 98,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, where the conflict began with a U.S.-led invasion on Oct. 7, 2001. Nearly 4,500 U.S. troops have died in Iraq and about 1,700 in Afghanistan.