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Monday, December 14, 2009

The Few, The Proud, The Reckless??

I am so thankful to all those young men and women who serve our country. It seems this last six months or so, there is a HUGE amount of men and women anxious to serve. I think the economy and unemployment rates have something to do with that to be honest. Actually I know this to be true as I frequent quite a few military related message boards and daily I see posts of young men(and some not so young!) asking questions about enlistment as they are out of work and have families to support. Meanwhile they are all concerned with enlistment bonuses(which are far and few in between right now thanks to over enlistment)

The next big question is how to avoid going to Iraq or Afghanistan. As a mother of a son getting ready for basic training, I understand this concern and have asked the same question(not necessarily out loud). I understand not wanting to go I really do, and I don't fault those who would rather avoid it. But this isn't about what your country can do for YOU(steady employment, income, meals, not to mention the training and education) it's about what YOU can do for your country. The military is designed to keep our country and it's citizens safe, not to be a social service organization where you take but don't give. My son has chosen ratings(jobs) within the military that he knows have a very high likely hood that he will be serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. He isn't concerned about whether or not he will receive any bonuses, he just wants the privilege of serving his country.

This mentality of joining just because of the economy has created a couple of problems in my opinion. The military has become so overmanned that there is a HUGE waiting list just to obtain a rating and enter the DEP program(delayed entry) once that happens, there is a wait of 6-12 months before even leaving for boot camp. Persons with very high ASVAB scores who are highly desirable candidates are being turned away without jobs due to being so overmanned.

Of those getting in, several are being discharged for some of the most minor reasons, like rashes, headaches and other ailments that normally wouldn't be an issue, but due to the budget and those still waiting to get in, they are being discharged. Imagine waiting nearly a year to get in, only to get half way through boot camp and be released because you are allergic to the laundry soap!

Of those choosing to enlist due to the economy I am seeing a whole other problem, one that leaves me VERY upset. Several of these people are joining strictly for the paycheck, and when they get in they aren't representing their country very proudly. I have heard of several people involved in activity that has caused them to be discharged that certainly deserved to be. Underage drinking, drinking while driving, and other criminal activity. I personally know three such persons. One had a accident while driving drunk, nearly killing the innocent victims, another who just up and decided to go AWOL after boot camp and during "A" School, and yet a third who actually stole an item from a room mate.

First, I feel very strongly that when you wear our country's uniform, you are representing all Americans and should do it proudly and with dignity. You are a role model. You are to have an outstanding code of conduct. More is and should be expected of you than the norm. If you want to abuse alcohol or be a thief, join a gang, not the military!

Secondly, there are plenty of very well qualified young men and women who actually want to serve their country out of a patriotic love for our country and they are being turned away or put on insanely long wait lists and it is VERY unfair to them to have them waiting while these hoodlums fill the slots that could be theirs.

Thirdly our government spends a large amount of money for the training of these individuals and it is wasted when these people take it and basically throw it away.

Don't sign up if you are doing it for any other reason than love of your country and desire to serve.

Also, don't sign up if you have no intention of carrying through, or are not 100% sure you want to. There have been so many in the DEP program, taking that spot for themselves, only to keep it to themselves for nearly a year, then change their mind at the last minute, giving the military days to a week to find another candidate. There are plenty willing, but most would like to have a month or so to prepare, visit family, etc... and by taking this slot making it unavailable you are taking that away from someone who will fill that slot.

My son will be going to MEPS once again this week and hopefully returning home with a rating and a ship date for boot camp. He has been waiting since June 26th of this year. Meanwhile we have seen three close personal friends enter and leave because of their own reckless behaviour, and have heard countless stories of others. I hope and pray, and do believe my son will do his country and us proud. I also hope all those considering enlisting will really search their hearts and motives before signing on the dotted line and taking a slot that there are literally hundreds if not thousands waiting to fill.

1 comment:

Larry C. said...

BRAVO Tara, great post! Too bad more folks didn't think that way. Enlistment has become yet another social program (this administration seems to be very fond of social programs). A majority of recruits now days are more interested in getting the benefits, bonuses & GI Bill, all the while trying their hardest to avoid combat or tough duty stations. Your son has kudos from myself & all the vets & active duty soldiers & sailors I know!