I've decided there are relatively few rewards for military service beyond those of any other job. If the pay is good and you are not getting shot, then it's as good as any other government job. But any idea of patriotism or idealism is out the window. There is a lot of talk about the importance of those serving in the military, but I don't think most Americans believe it, or even if they claim to believe it, they don't act on it. Companies tout giving jobs to veterans, but it's not because they really care about veterans; it's because it's good publicity for the company.
If there is any psychic benefit to military service, it is only for the person who serves. He or she can be personally proud of serving and protecting the nation but don't expect anybody else to share in that feeling. With the rise in income inequality in the US, soldiers are not protecting their own homes and families so much as they are being paid to protect the enormous wealth of the few at the top of the pyramid. Neither Romney, nor any of his five sons served in the military, but they are willing to pay some poor, dumb redneck to go shoot some Afghans for them.
Things have changed for the better. Veterans returning from Vietnam, like me, were reviled as psychotic baby killers. After 9/11 there was a genuine increase in patriotism and a desire to protect the US from another, similar assault. The diversion into the war in Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11 tended to waste that feeling and discredit the service of those who volunteered after 9/11. The military is still more respected than it was after Vietnam, but the spirit of 9/11 is mostly dead.