In 1980, when I was 16, I served in the British Army till my 21st Birthday. I have now lived in the USA for over seven years, all of it in the State of Texas. One of the big differences that I have found is peoples attitude towards its service people. There is a general respect for the soldier that just does not exist within the UK. I am not talking about the politicians who will play lip service to whomever but the average person on the street. I was at first amazed to find that as a US veteran (all ex-service are referred to as veterans here) you receive a lower mortgage rate, free health care, discounts in many retail businesses both large and small and more over, a general respect from everyday people. The World War II Vets are rightly revered and the only time I see this social respect braking down is with some of the Vietnam Vets. Todays serving US Gulf soldiers receive many accolades from Joe public even though they are the best paid and equipped soldiers in the world, local church and social fund raising is carried out throughout the year to help with everyday soldier supplies. Many peoples view on the rights or wrongs of the current military campaigns does not really affect their common view of their serving soldiers. When I left the British army I was not looking for any pat on the back. I do not believe most serving soldiers do but I may as well have spent five years washing dishes as to the difference it made in peoples opinions of me. I like others believe this is a historical problem and its time the British people modernized its thoughts towards its service personal. Poor housing, poor equipment and poor pay need to be corrected but so does the opinion of the public, businesses, politicians and social structures that make up the state. I do not believe you can blame the Secretary of Defense, the Prime Minister or any group of MPs, they are just reflecting the views of the people who gave them their jobs. The fact is the British public does not care much for its soldiers either serving or retired. I would not discourage any young person wishing to join the military but I would ask them to shop around and maybe find a country that will reward you with better pay and conditions and far more respect then maybe the one written on your birth certificate. I am not a religious person but at a recent extended family dinner with the in-laws they prayed for the well being and protection of their serving soldiers, I wonder how many times that happens around a British dinner table?