According to a new study by RAND Corporation, veterans are less likely than the general population to support extreme far-right and far-left groups. This is despite the increased attention paid to current and former members of the military’s ties with extremist organizations.
RAND, an independent nonprofit that conducts research on behalf of the Department of Defense, found that there was no evidence that veterans were more likely than Americans to be involved in extremist groups or to support them. RAND, a nonprofit firm that conducts research for the Department of Defense (DOD), found no evidence to support the notion that veterans are more likely to support or be a part of extremist groups than Americans in general.
In a press statement, Todd Helmus said that given the anecdotal evidence about the recruitment preferences of extremist groups and their targeting of veterans in their campaigns, it was reasonable to assume the reported prevalence rates were higher.
RAND reported that researchers suspected extremist groups could take advantage of active duty military and former members in order to boost their legitimacy and to benefit from the skills and training provided by military service. Military members are also more likely to be white and male – factors that are associated with right-wing extremists – and they’re more likely than others to look for the kind of community found in tight-knit organizations.
Helmus said to NPR that “those initial reports sparked a lot fear and concern.” “But nobody has actually looked at numbers.”
After the Capitol Riots in January 2021, 15 Democratic legislators wrote to the DOD Inspector-General to ask him to eliminate extremism from the DOD.
The letter said that “White supremacists have permeated the ranks of the military.” The letter stated that the spread of white supremacist ideologies is dangerous to the military, and could threaten to disrupt civil-military protections required by our democracy.
A report by the Democratic House majority for 2022 stated that “empirical evidence indicates that individuals with military background have become more involved in violent extremist attacks and plots over the past few years.”