Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Why are they joining? I think it's because they have nothing better
in their lives. They're mostly from mid-America where there are no
more jobs for them. No factories or mines and very few small farms
anymore. And most schools don't inspire young people to go on to
higher ed. Comment in a letter to AP


I think it's a little more complicated than your comments. First of all, the military has spent and are spending millions of dollars in Madison avenue type advertising, enticing these kids. And, it is true, that most come from socioeconomic categories that as much as we hate to say, are, lower middle class or lower in terms of opportunity. (Wow, we hate to admit that we have a class system in America--I do anyway). And, let's face it, we have developed a caste system in that our military officers are college educated, often from the Academies, paid for by the taxpayer, of course--they come from middle class or upper middle class families, while the enlisted come from the lower socio economic classes.

And, in many ways, the military is a good deal: good pay, perceived benefits, and often just the discipline that kids need. Ask many parents? So, why do they join? I think that some of it is the feeling of their invulnerability. They don't think in terms of war but in terms of adventure. If I were a youngster with maybe not stellar prospects, not knowing what I wanted to do, then the military would definitely be a possibility. All I could see would be, "I want to be an airborne ranger."

There are many other questions that have to be answered for the military--the biggest one is that the Volunteer Army has been so sold as successful, that it is hard for the American public that cares to think in any other terms. And, we don't have the moral or political will to do what we ought; institute some sort of National Service. Until we have a crisis truly and another course has to be considered, we will continue on in what we're doing. And, the fact that we have almost no leaders, John McCain, an exception, even if he is somewhat tainted in my opinion, (We surely respect his POW time) not just because he is a Republican but has always been in an elite kind of category, i. e., his Dad/Grandfather were Admirals. I would be more impressed if his Dad/Grandfather were Sergeants.

Maybe one scenario is that if we were to get to the point of overwhelming crisis, repetitive tours that are intolerable, not enough enlistees, cannot afford the Volunteer Army, etc., then we might see another course of action, i. e., the draft.

And, let's don't forget patriotism and tradition for some of these kids: although maybe a small number but they're there: and, these kids who are serving are good soldiers from what I see. And, I for one, appreciate their sacrifice. In the long run, most of the kids who've chosen the military are going to feel that there service to the country, even in a sorry war, was worth it. They did something that many of their peers did not.

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