Forget the military vets, worry about those of us that are still in! (just joking *BG*). Listen, if you want somebody to bash the military just look for a military person. I'm serious! A happy soldier is a bitching soldier!
The pay (16 yrs @ E-7 and I'm getting back most of what I payed in to taxes) doesn't compensate for the long hours, unexpected deployments, multiple moves across the country, etc, etc, etc.
The benefits aren't what you guys think they are.
I could go on and on and on.
Culture of violence? There are some initiations that get out of hand but I doubt that it's any worse than a fraternity/sorority pledge week or what goes on daily in gang initiations (called "jumping in" and you don't quit a gang and walk away)or what goes on between jocks at a highschool. You may not want to admit it but this sort of thing goes on daily in our culture regardless of whether we have a military or not. This is not an excuse for military people to act this way. The people who "act out" a things like a paratrooper earning his "wings" (what used to be called "blood winging") are violating military regulations and will be subject to discipline. We don't encourage it, we don't condone it, and unless there is something seriously wrong with the command, we don't cover it up. Why would we want our troops to act this way towards each other and risk having a percentage of our personnel disabled when we need them most?
Do we need a military? Cut it back to pre-WW2 levels and see what happens. After each war we have had a successive cut back in the military. Underfunded, undermanned, and making do with whatever Uncles Sam gave us for the previous war. This is well documented. After Japan attacked Pearl harbour we had personnel training with broomsticks shouting bang bang at plywood cut outs of tanks and other equipment. The size/strength of the military is up to those who analyze the current threats to America. Keep in mind that the first part of analyze is anal. There is a big picture to all this that none of us get to see.
And the reason that the vets get uptight is that they were there. You apparently weren't. These folks have served the country under the harshest conditions known to man and at the first sign of something bad (like the prisoner abuse) those that don't like the military, for whatever reason, bring out the big brush and slap us all as uncivilized, beastial, craven murderers.