Ah, the military. The institution of this great nation that we have empowered to do what is necessary to keep us safe and our minds at comfortable ease. It is only when the effects of keeping such peace arrives at our front doors that we notice the depth of problems that lie within our armed forces.
Like many people, we know someone family, friends, or otherwise who have taken the military path and it has crossed my mind more than a couple of times. About two weeks ago the thought was brought to my attention again when I was approached by a girl in DSW. I was trying on shoes and she politely, yet awkwardly said hello and asked me how I was doing. As I responded, I first thought she worked there but then I realized there was no indication of that. She then proceeded to ask me if I was interested in joining the military. Ahh, and the true aim of this conversation comes out: Recruitment. I thought to myself, either the budget’s been cut or they’re getting real creative nowadays and going back to the basics. In a roundabout way I told her no but entertained her story as I know how hard it is to strike up a conversation with a random person in hopes of getting desired results (i.e. a form of selling. Which I loathe). She mentioned that she had just finished basic for the Marines. Not only that but she loved it and had wanted to do it since childhood.
Now this is what I think makes a BIG difference with today’s service men & women. From my experience with the matter you either have a sincere interest in wanting to serve this country, you’re looking for an opportunity to better yourself, or a way out from whatever predicament you may find yourself in. The latter is hurting more than helping because usually there’s no plan or foundation beyond the service term; no real commitment. And if you’re not committed the likelihood that you’ll truly gain anything out of it is minimal. This is perhaps where AWOL’ers come in at.
I let her finish her spiel and ended up getting her lieutenant’s card if I was interested and wanted to garnish any further information and we split. It’s been fading in and out of my memory since that day and it just makes me think of this documentary I watched last month called “The Wounded Platoon” on PBS Frontline. It was so indescribable to try to reconcile my feelings with the struggles of these men who served in that platoon and then to try to believe that it’s a continuing story. It’s mind blowing. These once sane men basically become Monsters on the battle field; desensitized to the death that surrounds them. And when they return, they’re Aliens to the civilian world; some even turning into violent criminals. Of course there is PTSD that explains their behavior but so many cases are going unnoticed. Why? For men and women who have risked their lives? Reform MUST happen and people need to see the military for what it really is.
For me, the costs outweigh the benefits. I’ll stick to paying my taxes. Psh, military men and women still have to pay those once they get back anyway. I’m just speaking as an outsider and I’m sure there’s more to these thoughts elsewhere but I refuse to risk my life just to be a number.
If you want to watch the documentary here’s the link: