The link below will take you to a NY Times article describing a Heritage Foundation study about who actually makes up the ranks of the modern military -- background and overall demographic profile. Unfortunately, not enough Americans realize that the whole idea of the military being made up disproportionately of the under-educated, the poor, and people of color is a complete myth.
This has only become MORE the case in the post-9/11 climate. Anyone in the military is already familiar with most of this, but it's amazing how much this idea persists among America's chattering classes.
The article doesn't get into this at all, but I think a lot of people would be honestly surprised if they knew more about military pay and overall compensation. For a mid-level O-3 serving in the Northeast (that's Captain in the Army or Lieutenant in the Navy) the adjusted annual salary would work out to somewhere in the neighborhood of $75k.
Obviously, there are civilian professions that pay far in excess of that, but it sure ain't a vow of poverty.