A number of years ago I asked someone in Merkaz ha-Rav how his yeshiva differed from the haredi yeshivot, since in both yeshivot one could find people learning instead of going to the army. He replied that there is a great difference since in Merkaz those learning are doing so for the sake of the nation, while in the haredi yeshivot those learning are doing so for themselves. I can’t say how true this statement is, but I mention it to show the sentiment that existed even twenty years ago.
Marc B. Shapiro, “R. Shlomo Yosef Zevin and the Army, and Joe DiMaggio”, The Seforim Blog (25 August 2013), n. 1 [http://seforim.blogspot.com/2013/08/r-shlomo-yosef-zevin-and-army-and-joe.html]