In today’s political climate, with two wars being fought with no end in sight, it can be difficult for some people to understand why young folks enlist in our military. The conservative claim that most youth enlist due to patriotism and the desire to “serve one’s country” is misleading. The Pentagon’s own surveys show that something vague and abstract called “duty to country” motivates only a portion of enlistees. The vast majority of young people wind up in the military for different reasons, ranging from economic pressure to the desire to escape a dead-end situation at home to the promise of citizenship.
Over all, disenfranchisement may be one of the most accurate words for why some youth enlist. There are some unique opportunities in the military. Most people think the military is just solders with weapons on the frontlines. This is just not the case. The military has doctors, lawyers, mechanics, nurses, secretaries, engineers, scientists, teachers, firefighters, bus drivers, gymnasium managers, financial experts, and on and on and on.
All of them are trained to use basic weaponry, but many do not do so on a regular basis. Maturity, Focus, and Pride Some join for the discipline and structured environment, where fashion and family name are less important than professional and athletic ability. Some join to be surrounded by like minded individuals where respect runs both up and down the chain of command. Every parent who has witnessed their child graduate from basic training will tell you how much they have ‘grown up’ in that short amount of time.
Besides the growth in stamina and physical appearance, parents are often astounded by the self-esteem and self-confidence their young adult has gained. Your young adult will learn from the beginning to depend on himself and his unit for his very life. This teaches him how precious life is and how important and difficult it is to protect it. Most important, he will learn that he is capable of doing the job. This insight gives a new soldier the maturity they need to protect our country. It gives him a focus of what life is all about.
It gives him pride in himself and his country. Therefore, true confidence and self-esteem is gained. Educational Benefits The military will help pay for college and help pay off student loans. If your young adult is in need of money for education, the military is a viable option. Veterans Benefits There are a host of benefits that veterans are eligible for including home loans, medical insurance, and educational monies. Your child will be able to tap into these benefits for the rest of their lives.
Money Economic pressure, however, is an undeniable motivation — yet to assert that fact in public often leads to confrontations with conservatives who ask, “How dare you question our troops’ patriotism? ” But any simplistic understanding of “patriotism” does not begin to capture the myriad of subjective motivations that often coexist alongside economic motives. Altruism — or as youth often put it, “I want to make a difference” — is also a major reason a significant number of people enlist.
It is a terrible irony that contemporary American society provides working-class youth with few other outlets besides the military for their desire for agency, personal empowerment, and social commitment. It is especially tragic whenever U. S. foreign policy turns away from national defense and back toward the imperial tradition of military adventurism, as it did in Vietnam and Iraq. It’s cheaper than college and more exciting than anything else you can do right out of high school. There’s also the added benefit of not having to ask yourself “What am I going to do with my life? ” for a few years…