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becoming military

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
military people, please don't take offense to this. its a personal thing, not an attack on anyone who's in the army.

so my best friend has decided that he wants to try to be an army ranger.

first thoughts, he's lost his mind. this guy is my best friend, i think the world of him, but the army is not his style. i've known him forever. he's just had to quit college because he got too involved with his fraternity and couldn't keep his grades up. so i guess he's feeling desperate, and started flirting with the propaganda being dished out by the army.

there are so many incredible cons to joining the army you know ... risking your fucking life, that sort of thing, that i can't believe an intelligent person would even think about it. what is it, desperation? am i not seeing something? he says he wants to do it because it's a noble profession, but i don't even know if i agree with that. what if he's forced to fight in a war he doesn't agree with? where's the nobility in blind adherence to someone else's rules? how can someone 20 years old, who's never even left the fucking country, know enough about the world to decide that he's willing to kill anyone, or be killed, for any reason the government gives him, or for no reason at all. just saying it to myself, it sounds absolutely insane. am i the only one that's getting this?

i can't stand the thought of this guy giving up the next eight years of his life, hell maybe the rest of his life, because he's been out of school for three weeks and has gotten bored. i'm pissed that he's actually buying this bullshit that the recruiter is feeding him. he's always had the best bullshit detector of anybody i know, and he's totally not getting this at all. i dont know what to think.

i know he's got to make his own decisions. he got pissed off that i'm not supporting him, but i tried to explain that i'm not supporting him because i don't want him to die.. he's practically saved my life before, i'm just trying to do the same. am i out of line here?

[ 01-03-2002: Message edited by: poor taylor ]</p>
post #2 of 12
[QUOTE]Originally posted by poor taylor:
"military people, please don't take offense to this. its a personal thing, not an attack on anyone who's in the army."

Ex-USN here: No I don't think you're unreasonable in your attempt. I was a recruiter during the first Gulf War and we had so many people who wanted to join specifically to be a Navy SEAL. Well, we all know how long that war lasted.

If your friend wants to join out of patriotism, fine, but if he wants to join because he wants to see some action, well, first he has to qualify physically and mentally for the Rangers (I don't know the specifics), then he has to go to boot camp, then probably some other school, and then through Ranger training. Say that takes a year and the "war against terror" is over, and then what? Is he OK with just going out and doing training exercises for 7 years? The Army isn't going to let him out just because the war is over. He'll have signed a contract. And what happens if he doesn't qualify for the Rangers and some recruiter sweet talks him, saying, "You can always apply later when (whatever disqualifying factor) is gone" and he never gets to apply again?

Having said that, I don't know your friend and whether he will benefit from the military experience, but hearing "Army Ranger", "Navy SEAL", "Reconn", or "Special Forces" at a time like this tells me that he should be aware of some of the things I mentioned.

For some, the military is a great experience, fostering growth and responsibility. I wouldn't be concerned if you talked to your friend and he seemed level headed about his decision. Just express your concerns and be supportive whatever he decides.

[ 01-04-2002: Message edited by: Skipjack ]</p>
post #3 of 12
You shouldn't be afraid for his life. His job will be less dangerous than a New York cabbies or an average gas station attendant.
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proud resident of a failed state
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post #4 of 12
I have no problem with anyone joining the military, as long as it is an informed decision. Manly understanding that you are in a occupation that may potentially send you to your death for some conflict you may not believe in.

Unfortunatly many join up and don't get what they expected or what they wanted.

Those I know who put alot ot thought into the decision have had positive results come from serving.
post #5 of 12
Well, personally I think those who join the military for the right reasons *are* in fact, doing something noble. However I can see your dilemma, and I understand what it is you're concerned about. Basically, it sounds like this guy is not cut out of for the military and had he not been forced to drop out of college, he wouldn't have even considered it. That's what you need to focus on when talking to him.

Get him to realize he's just grasping for a solution. That before things went bad he had no intentions of going into the military. That one should only sign up for active duty when they have other choices and the military still appeals to them more, for both professional and personal reasons.

Actually I was in a somewhat similar situation when I got out of high school. I was going into college with the intent of entering the Air Force or Navy via ROTC, and my two best friends, knowing my personality, knew that it wasn't right for me. In the end I had to quit ROTC for non-academic reasons, but after a year or two I realized they were right; I wouldn't have been happy in the military.

That said, things and people change. And being much older and wiser now, and being in a war which to me seems only to have just begun, I may myself decide to go into OCS if things really get hairy in the next year or two. The key is that I would have other options available to me, but I'd choose to be trained to be an officer anyway. You have to make your friend realize it's the desperation of his situation that is dictating his thinking, not his will to do a certain thing. And if there's anything you need to succeed and be useful in the military, it's a will to be there.

It's a hard life - even if you don't get killed.

[ 01-04-2002: Message edited by: Moogs ]</p>
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Aldo is watching....
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post #6 of 12
Wow, tough call. Since I dont know you or your friend personally, I can only base my response on what youve written above. I understand that you dont agree with what the Army is, but since your friend is showing an interest in joining, confronting him will only make him react defensively.

My advice would be to try to approach your friend not with the mindset of persuading him against joining the Army (which he would only react against), but with the intention of trying to get him to think about some of the questions youve raised above. Explain that youre not trying to pick a fight, but that youre just concerned and want to make sure that your friend has thought beyond the recruiters pitch. Keep in mind that your friend will be feeling pretty defensive about now, so youll have to approach him in a way that he wont take as confrontational or judgmental.

As youve mentioned, it is your friends decision to make, so really the only thing you can do is to make sure that he is going into it with both eyes wide open. Make sure that he understands that joining the Army isnt like enrolling in college, and that once he signs on the dotted line, he will be legally obligated to serve out the term of his enlistment. Life in the army is very different from civilian life, and your friend cant just quit if he doesnt like it.

As someone whos spent 8 years in the Army, I can say that it has good and bad things about it, and joining isnt a death sentence. As Skipjack has mentioned, the rangers are the elite of the US Army, and its a long way from the recruiters office. Your friend may opt for a different career path altogether. If he does become a ranger, theres a good chance that he may never be deployed into combat, even with everything going on in the world today. Believe it or not, all commanding officers are concerned about the safety of their troops and will do their best to make sure that everyone comes home alive.
I was promised flying cars. Where are the flying cars?
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I was promised flying cars. Where are the flying cars?
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post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
thanks for all the insight. i found some info that i'm going to give him...he's still open-minded about it and is willing to listen to me. i figure the best way is to tell him i want him to have both sides of the argument, and just tell him, you know i am just looking out for him, but i'll support whatever he chooses. the thought of it still sort of makes me queasy, but its his life.

still, the thought of spending almost all of your 20s (isn't this the best time of our lives or something?) joined to the army seems akin to getting pregnant or married too fast. enjoy being young, i figure. i dunno. thanks for the advice though. its made me mellow out some. i know just joining isn't a death sentence, but if he did, man....well i don't even want to think about that.

[ 01-04-2002: Message edited by: poor taylor ]</p>
post #8 of 12
post #9 of 12
[quote]Originally posted by poor taylor:
<strong>there are so many incredible cons to joining the army you know ... risking your ****ing life, that sort of thing, that i can't believe an intelligent person would even think about it. what is it, desperation? am i not seeing something? he says he wants to do it because it's a noble profession, but i don't even know if i agree with that. what if he's forced to fight in a war he doesn't agree with? where's the nobility in blind adherence to someone else's rules? how can someone 20 years old, who's never even left the ****ing country, know enough about the world to decide that he's willing to kill anyone, or be killed, for any reason the government gives him, or for no reason at all. just saying it to myself, it sounds absolutely insane. am i the only one that's getting this?]</strong><hr></blockquote>

Fact: We need a strong military and people to be in it.

Fact: Your friend probably hasn't thought it through.

Fact: There are lots of intelligent people in the military.

Fact: It is noble. He would be risking his life for our country and way of life...even if he is scrubbing shitters.

Fact: If he is asked to kill someone, there will be a reason.

The "Big Bad Military" is liberal myth. We need it . We will always need it. The world is NOT getting more peaceful....that is an idiotic idea.

Tell your friend he better be damn sure and if he enlists tell him to take the minumum term.

[ 01-04-2002: Message edited by: SDW2001 ]</p>
I can only please one person per day.  Today is not your day.  Tomorrow doesn't look good either.  
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I can only please one person per day.  Today is not your day.  Tomorrow doesn't look good either.  
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post #10 of 12
Right out of high school, I went to college and my best friend enlisted in the Army. I thought he was absolutely crazy, not because I think joining the Army is a bad idea for EVERYONE, but because his personality is so off-the-wall that I didn't believe he could cope with the structure and rigidity of the military.

His reason for enlisting was "I can't afford to go to a good college so I'll do this and the Army will pay for me to get a degree." I thought his reason was a poor one -- why not just work part-time and go to community college for 2 years to save some money? Plus, I felt that by the time he was done with the military he'd be old enough that he wouldn't want to start college.

So I never really told him he shouldn't do it, but I made clear to him my reservations. He went ahead and enlisted, and I have to say, in retrospect, it was a good decision for him and ended up helping him to develop as a person. All my reservations about it turned out not to be a problem for him, and being in the Army really "made a man of him" in a good way, I think. It didn't erase his quirky personality, and he got through just fine while remaining the weird guy I remembered. He learned a lot, and he actually DID enroll in college when he was done, and the Army helped him pay his way through a degree at a good college. There are also lots of benefits for veterans that continue even after you're not active.

So I think lots of college-bound kids think joining the military is just for people who have no other options, but having witnessed my friend's experience with it, parallel to my own experience going to a university at the same time, I'd say that your friend is probably in for a different experience than you think (and different from what HE thinks too!)
post #11 of 12
[QUOTE]Originally posted by poor taylor:
[QB]
so my best friend has decided that he wants to try to be an army ranger.

(Puts on other hat)

You said your friend dropped out of college because he couldn't keep up his grades. Is he likely to turn his life around? You know him better than I.

Maybe he needs to learn discipline and focus. Many people have joined the military and it has turned their life around, not because of the military experience, but because they learned how to manage their time and learned how to prioritize their lives. I know you're concerned about losing your friend, perhaps losing touch with him, and you might selfishly be holding him back. (No offense, please, just typical recruiter-speak.) If your friend hasn't been out of the country, maybe he would benefit from contact with different cultures.

OK, suppose your friend decides to go military. You've heard lots of pros in the previous posts to try to balance the cons you mentioned. He should consider all the alternatives. All the services offer something different. (The Air Force has the reputation, perhaps unjustly, as the most "comfortable" service. Don't forget the Coast Guard.)

8 years? I'm not so sure about that. 8 years used to be the minimum military service obligation, but I think it is 10 years now. The minimum military service obligation is a combination of active duty and active or inactive reserve. (I'll explain what that means in a minute.) Ten years ago, the minimum active duty time was 2 years. As I remember, the Army offers to most incentive for those two years in terms of college benefits. Of course, that's because you get no extra training and they are looking to fill infantry positions. Advanced training (i.e., electronics, aircraft mechanics/avionics, even a guaranteed cook's job) requires a greater obligation. I'd estimate the minimum training (perhaps as a medic) would require a four year commitment. If your friend decided to become a medic and wanted guaranteed advanced training (something like qualifications to go in the field independently without the support of a doctor), he would probably incur a six year obligation. As far as I know, no program requires more than a six year obligation. If your friend gets out after four years, he still has a military service obligation. If he chooses to go into the active reserve, that means he has drills (once a month?), plus a two week active duty period, and during those drills and active duty gets pay and other priviledges. If he goes into inactive reserve, he holds an reserve ID card and is eligible, in time of war, to be recalled to active duty, after the active reserves, and before anyone drafted.

If your friend goes military, he should ensure that his enlistment contract guarantees, in writing, advancement to paygrade E-3 no matter what program he chooses. His college experience (at least two years) should make him eligible for that.

One more thing, your friend must take an entrance examination, both written and physical. The written test is called the ASVAB. The score on the ASVAB will determine what jobs your friend is eligible for. It is in his best interest not to take this test lightly. If he had to take it in high school and knows all he did is fill in the dots to pass the time, it is in his best interest to take the test again before he sees the job counselor (after he passes the physical examination). (His physical examination may also limit his job choices.) Based on the ASVAB results, your friend may qualify for additional tests. If your friend wants the greatest range of choices, he should choose these tests, unless they are for occupations in which he has no interest. As far as the Army goes, the only test I know of is the DLAB (Defense Language Aptitude Battery) which identifies an individual's aptitude for foreign languages. The Navy has a test called the NFQT to qualify a person for their nuclear engineering program. Given this information about testing, if your friend wants to go in the military, I would advise that he NOT set his heart on any particular occupation. The job counselors generally try to assess the individual's scores and offer jobs for which he or she is most qualified, but the availability of jobs is also limited by the "needs of the service".

In this time of an all-volunteer force, we need talented and dedicated people in the military. Some of the best people are those who know exactly what they are getting into, exactly what they are entitled to, and remain committed because or in spite of that knowledge.

Good luck to you and your friend in this difficult situation.
post #12 of 12
"The "Big Bad Military" is liberal myth. We need it . We will always need it. The world is NOT getting more peaceful....that is an idiotic idea. "

Tired of this crap... I'm a liberal and I know that we need an army... the issue is not that cut and dry with libby-conservative....


As for the military and your friend.... perhaps he could learn something or he may loose something:

If he needs discipline and responsibility and genuinly wants to be a service to his country then he should join.

My brother was a wild out of control irrisponcible young man, tearing up property and getting in to fights, then he joined the Marines. Since he has become a very responcible member of his community, a husband and father and home owner... an absolute 360' degree turn around.

On the other hand, a friend, intelligent and thoughtfull, inclined towards poetics and serious eastern philosophies and theologies joined the Army when he felt a need for some money and discipline. Unstead he was dealt a dose of anti-officer mumbo jumbo... (as enlisted men are oft to mutter) and was given a task and an attitude ripe for resentment and left the military learning nothing and feeling worse about himself and he ended up working as a service guy for a motel last I heard.

There are two sides to the military: honorable, discipline, serious, and knowledgeable but then there is also the side where you take lots of drugs and as enlisted men gripe about everything and everyone above you (as you are supposed to do) and scrub the toilet so that you can get a paycheck...this side is bad for you if you fall into it... and its hard not to in the Army... if you don't have a sense of purpose... Marines are there own purpose (that and country of course) as are special forces.
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"They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
--George W Bush

"Narrative is what starts to happen after eight minutes
--Franklin Miller.

"Nothing...

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