Economy, Desire for Education Reasons for More Latinos in the Military


Latinos are actually under-represented in the military but their numbers are increasing in the ranks due to factors like the economy, low cost of education, and an alternate path to citizenship.
According to Lt. Comm. Nate Christensen, a Department of Defense spokesman, Hispanics currently comprise 11.4 percent of the active-duty military forces (more than 157,000 people). In 2011, 16.9 percent of all new recruits were Hispanic. Though this shows Hispanics are actually underrepresented in the number of new U.S. military accessions, this does represent a 3 percent increase since 2005.  And that number can only rise given that many of the immigration reform proposals include a path to citizenship after serving in the military.
Speaking in an article at NBCLatino, Jorge Mariscal, Ph.D., director of Chicano/a studies and professor of literature at University of California San Diego, has researched Latinos in the military and says that there are three basic reasons Latinos join– the lack of opportunities to pursue other careers since education is being priced out for many working class people, a tradition of military service in many families, and the appealing masculinity attached to serving. He points out that the highest percentage of Latinos is in the Marine Corps, which is often considered “the baddest gang in the world.” “They are going after our youth in a big way,” Mariscal says.
Christensen, however, challenges this claim that the military aggressively recruits Latinos. “We have a great record of selecting and promoting people based on their proven performance, not their race, gender, or ethnicity– but we will not rest on our laurels,” he says. “Our force comes from a diverse populous, and certainly our military is better served when it reflects the nation it serves.”