Service to Country

Posted By on May 13, 2005

I enjoy reading and posting in several forums that usually pertain to an area of mutual interest. Over time it is easy to make friends (and occasional nemeses … hmm is that a word?) that move off topic for discussion of divisive issues such as religion and politics. One such issue is on how we go about fighting ‘terrorism.’

A forum conversation in regard to military recruitment has prompted new ideas in regard to recruiting, just as an exposé from a high school journalist, David McSwaine (CBS new article)made the news. The article that spurred the forum discussion was published in USAToday brought forward a new ‘lite’ enlistment that has an initial ‘up’ of 15 months.

After quoting the comments of a senior member of the forum, I’ll included my thoughts not so much on the “lite” enlistment recruiting technique, but on his opinion that this is a “Moron Draft.” (I realize that often frustration is what stimulates strong statements … but it does open the door to an exchange of thoughts)

His comments about the article:
Really scraping the bottom of the barrel for the “volunteer” army. what kind of moron signs on for “1.25 years” when you still get stuck with an eight year commitment in the guard/reserve (the guard/reserve making up half the troopers in iraq and way more than half of the dead/mulitlated bodies, btw).

Look for some stupid and really unhappy troopers to start acting out (fragging the officers) in 1.25 years when the dim bulbs finally turn on as to what they’ve done to themselves.

“Son, with your sign-up bonus – there will be a shiny new mustang waiting for you in 1.25 years….”. “Does that come with handicaped driver modifications?” See forum discussion for addtional comments.

Not to disagree totally with your analysis (because I’m a dad of two at or nearing the age), but there is also a component of “despiration +stupidity +adventure +invunerablity +excitement +youthful exhuberance +less we forget, patriotism/service to country” that factor into the decision. The same risk/excitement/reward thinking that goes into motorcycle riding, rock climbing, hang gliding, etc often goes into those youthful minds joining the US military. By thinking less of those volunteering (ie. “Moron”) to serve is also a discredit to their patriotism.

Unfortunately, for many signing on, there will be a sense of regret and disillusionment. I dislike the ‘overselling’ style recruitment and disception that seems to ‘still’ exist behind the doors in some recruiting offices. I do believe that we have cleaned up much of the flat out ‘lie recruiting’ of the past, but also realize that selling an all expense paid trip to Iraq will probably not include marketing the down side with as much ‘spit and polish’ as the upside.

I’m not fond of your title “Moron Draft” … that is not being honorable to those volunteers choosing to risk their lives in service to our country. Military service is a high risk job. There have been generations of young soldiers who have valiantly come forward when our nation has asked for their service with far less honesty during recruitment. Most men and women walking into a recruiting office today know precisely what they are doing and I’m thankful for their service.

Let me share a story from a friend of mine; a two tour Vietnam Marine:
Tim was a high school graduate enrolled in college during the early 60s. (pre-heavy protest) He choose to enlist in the Marine corp (ie. serve with the best attitude) before being drafted as graduation from college loomed. He spent his first tour leading (literally) young men daily into the jungles and when he became a ‘short timer’ (nearing end of service) was offered increasingly attractive options to re-up. The final straw was as the 30 day mark came and he was ‘promised’ rear duty and an immediate R & R trip to Hawaii and no more trips into the jungle (v. 30 more days of it). Understand the ‘short-timer’ mindset as you watch soldiers dying everyday knowing you only need to make it 30 days and then having the ‘carrot’ of 30 days R&R in Hawaii dangled in front of your nose. Many young marines chose the trip and a second tour as did Tim.

Although stories in the US armed forces recruiting offices still exist, I’ve not heard them continue with this kind of tactic as a regular practice. For Tim … the duty was as promised, rear duty, but no where close to sane. With it came different dangers much like the ones that face our ‘peace’ keeping soldiers today … urban patrols.


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