Yesterday the Pew Research Center posted a graph showing the proportion of the overall U.S. population on active military duty since 1940. From a high of almost 9% of the population during World War II, we’re down to roughly 0.5% of the population on active duty today (shaded areas are periods when the U.S. was actively engaged in a war):

According to the full report, of those in the military, about 2/3 are under age 30. Racial/ethnic minorities make up 36% of the armed forces today. As standards for recruits have increased, so has the educational level of troops: 92.5% have graduated high school, compared to 82.8% of civilians in the same age group.

The Pew Research Center points out that the reduced proportion of the population in the military at any give time means fewer connections between civilians and military personnel, which may influence the experiences of veterans as they re-integrate into civilian life, as well as the degree to which the population is aware of the impacts of military duty — physical, mental, financial, and otherwise — on those who serve.

Thanks to Shamus Khan for the tip!