The most recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have been going on now for almost a decade, unabated. They will probably go on for several more years. These wars surely will have profound effects on the countries where they are fought and the people who live there. They will have profound effects on the American military, in both it's formal and informal culture. I think most people realize that.
Maybe what most Americans don't realize are the effects that these wars will have on American civilian culture. Many of our young men and women in military service, have been fighting these wars, in foreign countries. Many of them for several years, in cumulative time. This is the kind of military service that hasn't been required in this country since the 1920s and 30s. Eventually, these wars will end. The veterans, as has happened in all previous wars, will be pushed out of military service and return to America. There are a lot of them and they have experienced life as few of their countrymen and women have. They are going to have different perspectives on a lot of things than the rest of the country.
They are going to be people worth knowing, worth listening to. They are going to be people who feel they have earned a right to participate in the national dialogue. If you believe that they are going to line up in any kind of liberal vs conservative or religious vs secular manner, I think you are mistaken.
I have no idea what they are going to be like or how their voices will shape the future of America but I think we will be hearing from them in the decades to come. I'm interested to see what they do. I'm interested to hear what they have to say.