College Money and the Military

"Why the military?"

This question is always asked of me, so I figure you should know the answer.

Back in 1996, I was a sophomore at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia when one day at the end of class the professor asked me to stay after and see him. I walked down to the front of the lecture hall and he asked me if there was something wrong. Of course I did not have any clue what he was talking about so I told him "No, Sir". He proceeded with

"The college has informed me your tuition bill is outstanding. I am supposed to ask you to leave my class."

I decided to take the semester off to figure out my financial situation.

I did not have a great opinion of the military at age 19, so I resorted to scholarship applications, sending out about 30. Just as fast as I sent them they returned with explanations like

"We are sorry but your address is in an area where the mean income is too high to accept your application for this scholarship."

Lots of them came back with the explanation that my current grade point average was a non-qualifying factor. In the end, all of the applications for free money were denied for one reason or another.

Influenced by my father's tenure in the United States Navy, I saddled myself up and went to the local Navy recruiting office. The salivating recruiters nearly fell out of their seats when I told them I was a student at the College of William & Mary and I needed to find a way to finance college. They knew they could sell me on tuition payment benefits.

Immediately they sat me down to take a shorter version of the ASVAB(Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery), a multi-aptitude test which is maintained by the Dept. of Defense. After scoring the test, they tried selling me on becoming a nuclear submarine officer, which would have meant a two to three year delay in returning to college due to training requirements and the minimum active duty contract.

I was instantly uncomfortable with that proposal. I was not going to spend my time in the military on a sub. I also wanted to get back to college as soon as possible because I feared the longer I spent away from school, the more likely I was not to return. I departed quickly, thanking them for their time.

By Bert Stover |  September 13, 2005; 12:01 AM ET  | Category:  Why the Military?
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What's the rest of the story?

Posted by: Max | September 13, 2005 07:31 AM

Almost the exact same thing happend to me when I was younger. I was "taking a break" from college and talked to the Navy Recruiter. I got the same mini-ASVAB and while I was still taking it I looked over and sure enough, he was already reaching into his desk for the Nuclear sub brochures. Didn't matter how well I scored, I was perfect Nuke material. I quickly realized spending months at a time underwater wasn't what I wanted to do. So I departed quickly also.

I guess that's why they're always looking for nuclear sub folk.

Posted by: Peter F. | September 13, 2005 07:53 AM

Yeah, what happened, Bert? Did you eventually end up signing with the National Guard? Good for you...good choice. Although on the surface, comparing being a soldier with the National Guard against being a college student with William and Mary may seem incomparable, the military is unique- it gives you life experience that can't be found anywhere and is priceless as it builds foundation on how you see life from hereon. I spent 23 years with the U.S. Navy sailing the seas and discovering places and those were just experiences that I would treasure forever.

Posted by: Steve | September 13, 2005 07:57 AM

I spent 3 years in the Army and have worked for 24 for the Federal government. My bosses have been from the Deferred generation who think anyone who would fight or die for minimum wage is nuts. I'd advise anyone to rob a bank (just kidding) but stay out of the military.

Posted by: John | September 13, 2005 08:13 AM

Recruiters play their games, to be sure. This situation exists because our American boys are no longer inculcated with a sense of duty that leads them to want to defend their country. I fear for our country when the first our young ask when offered the opportunity to serve is, "What do I get out of it?" Those from the Deferred Generation who had "other priorities" that led them away from service do not deserve to eat the bread of our land. I served in the Marine Corps for twenty years and I'd do it again.

Posted by: James McClain | September 13, 2005 09:21 AM

Excuse me, but didn't you realize there was a problem with your tuition payments before you were evicted from class? Hello, that's called Financial Responsibility 101. So you were basically attending college classes without paying for them, correct?

Posted by: E. Etage | September 13, 2005 09:59 AM

I don't think American young men of the current military-age generation have at all any less sense of duty than their grandparents'. Rather, many who would willingly risk life and limb to protect their country are now informed enough to realize that prosecuting foreign wars without direct relation to defense of their own country does not quite fit the definition of defending their country.

Furthermore, it should be noted that of the current forces serving (largely thanklessly) in Iraq, for example, every single young man and woman serves as a volunteer, without the nation resorting to the draft--which was not the case for at least one previous generation's war.

Posted by: Smith | September 13, 2005 10:03 AM

There are many ways to serve your country besides military service --- paying your taxes, voting, supporting your family and community, and may other ways. I think it's fantastic that you can get a college education with finanical help from the government -- our country benefits twice: 1) with your service in the Guard 2) and long after with your education and your experiences.

Posted by: George | September 13, 2005 10:14 AM

Why should we "cultivate a sense of duty" that leads us to defend our country when the Government uses the military to fight wars base on lies and political motives? I don't think the military is the problem, I think is our current government has made a lot of young people not want to join the military because there is no good cause. Sep. 11 led many to sign up for the military, but instead of going after the real enemy which was in Afghanistan, we went after Iraq (so where are the WMD?).

My thinking is that if I die, I would like to die for a good cause, not for lies made by a crappy government full of idiots. If you want me to trust government with my life by going into the military, then government needs to get their act together and show me that Iím dying for a righteous cause, not for political motivations.

Posted by: Raquel | September 13, 2005 10:17 AM

I am so tired of hearing that same tired old "this generations priorities are screwed up" I spent 10 years in the army left an NCO and highly decorated, and am one of the Gen X'rs you guys all seem to hate. Most of us would willingly fight so save the world or our country, If WWIII were looming we would be there, but instead we have another unnecessary unpopular war in a place that was never a national security threat. Gee go figure that were not hot to die there. WWII was all about defending our country the world and our way of life, this current mess is just that a big unnecessary mess. And if I hear the excuse of WMD's or that Saddam blew off the security council one more time I think I'll puke. If those are really justifications then we should have invaded Korea first they are and were much greater violaters of both.

Posted by: sam | September 13, 2005 10:20 AM

I have to point out in response to E. Etage that financial responsibility is a learned behavior, and frankly, when one's parents haven't had to or chose not to navigate the hoops and tricks of either going to college or paying for it, one is very much left in the dark, with little to no guidance.

I faced the same dilemma. I even got booted out of the dorms. Fortunately I fell into a well-paying tech job and worked for a few years, and then made the decision to come back to school after I had grounded myself in what you term "Financial Responsibility 101."

It helps that once you turn 24, you are considered independent by the federal government, so it is only your income (and not your parents) that is considered for loans and grants. And if you're willing to make the sacrifice of only working part-time, the Pell grants will come through. That's the only way I've been able to come back full-time as a student, to finish what I started when I had no clue what was going on.

The military's for chumps--once you sign the dotted line, you are property of USG. And your college education gets back-burnered any time you need to play cannon fodder. I'm all for service to one's country, but you can do better service by volunteering as an EMT, working a soup kitchen, or any other number of ways besides learning how to kill.

Posted by: Steve | September 13, 2005 10:43 AM

This is all about the cost of education and options, not the military! The military has long been one of the few options for the poor and lower middle class to try and have a better life than our parents. As tuition continues to rise, incomes continue to fall and jobs continue to become less available, the military simply becomes one of the few known and visible options.

However, I would like to suggest that there are other win/win solutions! I would encourage students to take on the loans, become teachers or volunteers in low income areas and get their loans cancelled, while providing positive role models to youngsters who need to see that there is something to be gained by staying in school.

Be part of a new solution, don't just gripe about the old options!

Posted by: Judy | September 13, 2005 11:07 AM

I am currently in the military. I agree with a lot of people about the problems in the military recruitment etc, and once you sign, you definitely are the property of the government. I joined the army mainly out of the belief that it is the responsibility of a citizen to defend what matters. I went to one of the best schools in the country (always in the top 10), and I was on full ride.

But what you have to see when you are in the military 90% of the time it sucks. The other 10% is possibly the most fun and best bonding experiences you will ever encounter. You should not join the military in order to get money for college. If you do, you will regret it. My unit was mobilized during my senior year and those who joined for college money were not the ones we wanted with us. They were trying to run out on claims they had moral problems with killing or some medical purpose.Because of this, they were banished from the rest of us. We want the guy/girl next to us to fight.

If you are interested in serving in the military look at all 3 branches, the Army,Air Force, and Navy all offer different things. (Marines are part of the navy for you who don't realize). They offer different jobs and different "incentives". The best way to go about it, is to talk to a recruiter. DONT SIGN ANY CONTRACTS. (You can't sign immediately). Ask the recruiter to tell you what jobs are available, and to let you look through the different information on the jobs.

GO VISIT A UNIT. If you want to be in the reserves, generally the best for students, then get the recruiter to take you to their drills. If you want to be active duty, go to meet a unit with soldiers who have that job.

See how the different forces deal with formalities, talking, etc. You will find that one of them may be for you.

Once you decide on a job, remember that everything is negotiable to a limit. If you want a job, and they say it is not available, simply tell them to call you when it is. Amazingly slots will open up right away. Also, decide what incentives are important and what you will have to pay back if you are kicked out. Atleast in the army you can't quit. But people do get the boot frequently because they can't do the road marches etc.

Posted by: Army Soldier | September 13, 2005 11:08 AM

Army Soldier is wrongly repeating what someone in the Army told him. The US Marine Corps is part of the Dept of the Navy but is a branch of the service wholly apart from the US Navy. You can look it up. Army Soldier makes his claim as a backhanded swipe at both the Marine Corps and the Navy, in order to bolster his service in the Army. All branches and the Reserve and Guard forces involve honorable service. His insecurity is understandable but he should be proud of it nonetheless.

Posted by: Not an Army Soldier | September 13, 2005 11:18 AM

I agree with Steve's assertion that "financial responsibility is a learned behavior" but I respectfully disagree when he states "frankly, when one's parents haven't had to or chose not to navigate the hoops and tricks of either going to college or paying for it, one is very much left in the dark, with little to no guidance." Unless there is more to the story, it appears that Bert (remember him?) was basically going to school without paying for it. As anyone who ever attended any learning institution will know, you have to pay before you go to class. How Bert could have gone through a semester without paying for it is beyond me.

It is funny that Bert decided to look into getting military money rather than transfering to a college with a significantly lower tuition that William & Mary.

Oh, and Shout Out to the military censors reading this blog. Hope you are having a good day!

Posted by: | September 13, 2005 11:34 AM

I spent 6 years in the Marine Corps reserve from 1967-73. I had been attending college for about a year and didn't have a real sense of direction. I did not want to quit school and be drafted and was fortunate to be able to get into the Marines without much of a delay. All other reserve and guard units had multi-year waiting lists as many of my generation pursued that in lieu of being drafted and sent to Vietnam (including the President). Regardless of motives, the result of my military experience was on the whole very beneficial, I returned to school after my six months of training, the extra cash from my monthly drill helped and I have encouraged my sons to pursue a similar path.

Posted by: Larry | September 13, 2005 12:01 PM

I did not have a choice. I was drafted into the Army and served in Viet Nam. I do not regret it. I saw it as my duty to pay back this country for everything I had recieved. I guess my feelings were transfered to my sons. Son number 2 served in an airborn unit for four years. Son number 3 will be graduating from basic training next week. He had everthing going for him. 1450 SAT score, national honor society, captain of his football and basketball teams in high school etc. He surprised me and disappointed his mother when after completing two years of college he decided to serve. Needless to say, I am very proud of him.

Posted by: Roberto de la Selva | September 13, 2005 12:08 PM

I joined the army (reserves) during my junior year of college to not only help pay for tuition, but also because I was attracted to the training and the discpline that the army provides. I have learned life-long lessons and the quality of my life is better today because of my service back then (during Gulf War I). Although my unit did not participate in GWI, I knew that the potential to be deployed was high and was ready to sit out of school and perform the duties I signed up for.

One person on this comment board has said that the military is for chumps. I strongly disagree. When the country faces dissater (be it Al Qeada or Katrina), who does everyone look for first, (no not FEMA) but the military. It is an honorable way to serve the country as well as teaching in rural or inner urban school districts.

Everyones financial situation is specific to that persons income, financial knowledge and experience, so what might be obvious to some may not be to others. Making sweeping generizations about who should know or do what (Finanacial Responsibility 101)is just that; a sweeping generalization with little basis for application on an individual to individual basis. I learned a great deal about financial and every other kind of resposibility in the army. I employ these skills avery day as the manager of a mid-sized engineering firm.

Oh, the navy tried the submarine nuke power program on me too! They are relentless!

Posted by: Vince | September 13, 2005 12:09 PM

I chose National Guard Service to serve in a military capacity in the greatest country in the World. My 20-year experience was rewarding and fulfilling. I was activated, had my college paid for, held another civilian career, and all the while I was a female in my 30s and 40s. The military is what you make of it, and activation is always a possibility.

Posted by: Donna, MSgt, ANG, Retired | September 13, 2005 12:09 PM

I'm a former Marine (Vietnam era), but currently work in financial aid at a community college. My brother-in-law is an Army recruiter, so I also have some insight about that arena.
Good advice (above) about being VERY careful when you talk to recruiters and sign contracts. With "stoploss" clauses you ARE the property of the military, for as long as they see fit to use you.
Re the "financial responsibility" aspect, state governments have been cutting support for college students since Reagan was in office. I attended college in California in the 60s and 70s and it was basically FREE. The tuition cost at our CC has about doubled in the past six years, because Republican-dominated legislatures have cut funding.
The feds are no better--Pell grants have been frozen, as have loan amounts--since Bush junior got into office. While the cost of higher ed has climbed steadily.
Millions of "middle income" young people are being priced out of higher ed, and many sign military contracts for the ed benefits, only to discover they're spending years, risking life and limb, in the Middle East.
Not a pleasant situation for middle/low income 18-22 year-olds.

Posted by: Michael | September 13, 2005 12:15 PM

I served full time active duty in the Navy for 9 years from 1980-89, the Reagan and Bush I eras. Those were the fairly peaceful years to be in, with the exception of the Beirut bombings. I took a few college extension courses and made a slight dent in advancing towards a degree but when I did my last tour I had absolutely NO TIME (recruiting duty). Anyway, besides thinking I could rack up some college credits, I joined solely for the travel and the adventure of it all. I certainly got that and then some more. You know something? I have absolutely NO regrets, anger or bitterness because whenever any situation gets tough I always use my past military experiences as a psychological baseline for getting through whatever monkeywrench is being thrown in my path.

Posted by: Jane Stein | September 13, 2005 12:22 PM

I spent 9 years in the army and learned a lot about life and the world however, no matter how many deployments that I went on (6months in somalia, 1 1/2 years in Bosnia, 9 months in Hati) I never felt that I was "defending" my country. Doing my countries and presidents bidding Yes but defending no. More Americans need to recognize the difference. The invasion of Afganistan in respomse to 9/11 could be said to be defe3nding our country as we were attacked. Iraq however, is not a defense of our country, it is millitary adventurism at the expense of our soldiers lives and to the benifit of the oil corporations who have reaped record profits since the invasion. Hey but what ever keeps the profits rolling in for the president campaign contributers

Posted by: Todd | September 13, 2005 12:51 PM

I fell for a similar gambit. I immigrated from Liberia in the Fall of 1996 and needed money to get into college. The military seemed like my best bet. The Navy turned me down because I'd been in country for less then 2 months and still did not have a green card. The Marines were willing to work with me.

I aced the ASVAB and even got a medical waiver to enlist. The recruiter told me I could have any job I wanted in the Marines based on my scores. After I signed my enlisted documents, he altered that statement. Because I was a non citizen, I could only work in certain specialties. I couldn't back out, I had signed the dotted line. I did my time and went to college. But I can tell you with certainty, that those were the best 4 years of my life. I am now completing grad school, but I sure miss the Marines. I might return in some reserve capacity.

Posted by: Deor | September 13, 2005 01:11 PM

I joined the Army right out of high school knowing that I could not afford to go to college but that after 3 years in the Army I would receive benefits that would allow me to attend college. I served every day of my Army term and got all the benefits due. I would not trade the experience for any other.

Posted by: Stan Karber | September 13, 2005 01:49 PM

I joined the military right after high school and went to Viet-Nam and I don't regret it. And, like some of the others who've posted their comments above, when I got out I went to school and the governemnt paid. But, I didn't join the military out of patriotism or ideology, rather I joined because I was always fascinated by it. I was weaned on war movies and hero stuff and I couldn't wait to join.

I personally don't like that the US fights wars in other countries with the excuse that we're defending our country: "bulls--t". I don't like to read or hear that another US soldier was killed in Iraq, or other foreigh country! We don't owe anybody anything! I don't blame anyone for not joining the military unless our shores are being invaded. If this were the case, I'd be the first one to grab a gun and go to the front as I'm sure all others would, as well! I am older and wiser now, but I still like the military, but not to fight someone else's wars!

Posted by: H> | September 13, 2005 02:25 PM

When I started college in 1972, there was no money available. I felt very lucky to receive an Army ROTC Scholarship. (Market demand must have been low in those days.)To my surprise, I wound serving 6 years on active duty and 15 in the active reserve. My motives were never entirely selfless, as I enjoyed- and will continue to enjoy- many different benefits. These include serving with some of the best people one could ever meet, and the pride of service and some sacrifice. True, there are many ways to serve the nation and others, and the military is not for everyone. It can be miserable at times, but to say it is for "chumps" implies to me a self-centered life and denigrates the service of many fine people. I believe there are two unfortunate by-produts of the all-volunteer force. One, we have lost the democratic experience of previous generations, where people from all walks of life shared the common experience and bond of military life, good and bad. Two, our military seems to have become more of a separate class of people, rather than the citizen-soldiers of the past. (Although the extraordinary mobilization of the Guard and Reserve we see now has changed that, and some communities are certainly feeling direct involvement.)Still, it becomes too easy for national leadership to commit to military action when it is only other peoples' kids who bear the risks. We should try to renew the sense of honorable military service, not deride it. Bottom line: I think you should consider that you can both serve well and promote your own interests. If your only motivation in service is to receive money or other personal advantage, you will likely be disappointed. If you feel like everyone should bear some of the responsibility of a free democracy, you will probably find deeper satisfaction.

Posted by: Old Army Guy | September 13, 2005 02:56 PM

Re: William and Mary Tuition

W&M is a state school, so tuition there is comparable to other state universities for state residents. Despite W&M's stellar reputation, it's not nearly as expensive as private college... mayeb $10K/yr compared to $30K-$40K.

As far as my own experience, I was medicaled out of a ROTC scolarship during drawdown. I got financial aid--loans I am still paying off 13 years later. My mother went to see a recruiter who fed her a line of bull so wide you couldn't shovel it with a back-hoe.

As for recruiters... I'm a mil spouse of some 14 years. My husband has been on recruiting duty and I know what it's like. Recrutiters are not so much evil as desperate. They don't get good support from the command. They are vastly over worked: Saturdays, holidays--Christmas day, New Years day, Thanksgiving day. He worked them all. He was often up at 5 AM and not back til midnight. He came home emotionally drained, dead to us, even though he was there all the time. It was worse than sea duty. At least when he's gone to sea, he's really gone.

He was made unwelcome and treated badly by people who didn't have a clue what a good person he was. He didn't lie, but he watched other people lie and watched them get ahead while he didn't. It nearly killed my husband who went to recruiting because it was "his duty." Even now, he is having trouble making chief because of that horrible recruiting tour. He was a damned good sailor, a good leader, and they ruined him.

No. Don't join if you don't want to join. But for God's sake, recruiters are humans, doing an overwhelming job, dealing with daily negativity--crushing amounts of it. Next time you say "no" to a recruiter, have some compassion. Recruiters have to fulfill the mission, no matter how impossible it is. They have to do it. You don't. You're not in the military.


Posted by: dejah | September 13, 2005 02:57 PM

Two Years Military or National service ( for proven ultra-religious individuals ) should be required for citizenship. This takes away all of the talk about priviledge and does away with the draft as well as recruiter lies. With a 20-Million sized armed forces ( Not paid at volunteer army rates! ) few countries will want to tangle with us. In addition; 1 million troops could easily re-build the south after Katrina.

Posted by: Athenian-Roman | September 13, 2005 03:07 PM

so, you had a low grade point average and did not pay your tuition. Mommy and Daddy made too much money, but don't want to waste it on you. You have looked everywhere for a free ride, then go to a recruiting office. Then, they lure you. Given your incredibly wonderful history of good decision making and your total avoidance of responsibility, your were hoodwinked. Your low grade point average makes a lot of sense. Stop blaming the recruiter. I don't believe you remember it quite the way it happened, because any educated person reads the fine print themselves. I am only grateful the military did not allow you in a nuclear sub.

Posted by: Karen | September 13, 2005 03:33 PM

Is the Washington Post really allowing a spoiled kid whine in a column? Are there no adults around? Have they told him Canada really likes people who act like they got hit by a hockey stick?

Posted by: Karen | September 13, 2005 03:37 PM

Hey Karen--what's Canada got to do with this? He wasn't looking to evade military duty; as you can plainly see he's in the Guard. He was just looking for a way to independently fund his way through school without his parents help which shows me he's NOT spoiled. Had you actually spoken to Bert Stover to get ALL of the facts BEFORE you decided to flame him?

Posted by: Jane Stein | September 13, 2005 04:12 PM

Jane, if you don't see this child blaming the mean, aggressive recruiter, than you should reread his "piece". His terminology in referencing recruiters,such as "salivating" and using "they could sell me on.." (redundantly) does not sound like someone willing to take responsibility. He went to them. They are good people doing a hard job. Show some respect.

Posted by: Karen | September 13, 2005 04:51 PM

If you read my earlier piece I wrote that I used to work recruiting duty in the Navy. Of course the recruiters were "salivating" and "falling off their seats". I saw it all the time as it was not very often that a "CAT 1" quality type applicant would be visiting our recruiting stations in order to sail the seven seas, particularly in the high flying '80's. I have the utmost respect and props in the world for ALL military recruiters and the difficult jobs they do. Working from "dark o'clock" until "dark o'clock" seven days a week is NOT fun and neither is the high rate of divorce, depression and everything else that comes with the territory. However, your verbal attack of Mr. Stover is still NOT justified!!

Posted by: Jane Stein | September 13, 2005 05:11 PM

Karen,how is your new job at the State Dept. going ?

Posted by: Jack | September 13, 2005 05:14 PM

I have known Bert since he was in the 8th grade. I taught him in high school. After classes and athletics were finished, he worked part time (til 10:00pm) for me during his Junior and Senior years. He would then be be up most mornings by 6:00 to get his homework done. In his senior year of high school, while taking a full academic load of English, Math, Japanese, History, and Sciences, he earned 4 varsity letters. During vacation time he always worked a day job and a weekend job.

Bert cares too much about the dignity of his loving family to say anything in this Blog that would cause any embarassment. If you can trust me, even though you have never met me, believe that in all my years of teaching and mentoring high school and college age kids, Bert and one other are the most financially responsible that I ever came across.

Posted by: A Joyce | September 13, 2005 09:04 PM

I also attended William and Mary on military-paid tuition. In times when recruiting is tough, you can pick and choose your branch. For those who say "I don't approve of the killing" you can serve in so many other branches that are less combat oriented and still serve your country. Medical officers are in perennial demand. I was practically carried in on a golden chariot when I requested a transfer from the Combat Engineers to MEDEVAC.

Posted by: DT Skiles | September 13, 2005 10:24 PM


My oldest son is very bright, but was not motivated in high school and had a poor GPA to show for it. So he followed his brother into the Marines. It was a pressure cooker for him, but he learned that the austere and lifestyle there was beneath him for a career. So he resolved to turn things around. He not only had the GI Bill going for him, but is saving almost as much while in the service as the GI Bill provides. When he leaves the the Corps next April, he shows every sign of coming out determined to achieve and will have the funding to make it happen. He also completed his first college course in economics through the University of Maryland. The USMC has been very good to him. If you play your cards right, you can get back in the game.

Posted by: K Blankinship | September 14, 2005 12:23 AM

A Joyce, if Burt was so responsible and worked so hard and held down jobs during school, as you claim, why did he not show that initiative in college? He wasn't financially responsible if he didn't know his tuition wasn't paid, and he didn't make a decision to pay for school with a job or push for scholarships very hard... I grew up poor in an old farmhouse, and the land all around us was rich kids. Our 'area' had high median income, but we didn't. And I managed to get scholarships based on need AND academics. And I didn't need to go to someone else to do it.
K Blankinship, I hope your son actually gets out when you say - but I imagine that 'stop loss' will keep him in there for the foreseeable future. Don't expect him home soon.

Posted by: Costello | September 14, 2005 01:41 PM

First, kudos that he earned his wings in a demanding program, learning to fly and surviving officer candidate school all at the same time is no small feat. Even his classmates that washed out had the courage to take on the challenge.

Paradoxically he proves he has the intelligence and drive to accomplish anything, too bad he hadn't turned on that switch earlier as he could have had better options by joining the Coast Guard and either earning college money or competing for academy slot than being on this deployment scheme that will wreak havoc on his ultimate educational goals. Or simply getting a student loan working during the day and going to school at night, internet/online there are easier ways, than joining the army, amigos!

I know, did the same thing except there was no active war on, and I was lucky to end up flying fixed wing in the Air Guard, two things: real air conditioned cockpits and hotels--don't hate just get this tour over and check out that option but-- ya need a degree. I just retired after over 23 years and even went to grad school.

Still I will say this I only joined because I wanted to position myself to fly for the military. The Cold War probability was so low. Besides I had academic scholarships. I remember when they bombed the Marines in Lebanon and shot down KAL747 as a wake up call. Then came Grenada, Panama, small wars light casualties, no real long term committment. Then GWar I, did it the right way, used the much touted Powell doctrine beautifully unlike now when Powell shredded his own docrtine and respect, and for what?

I am so glad that my daughter did not want to be in the military and even more happier that I retired, and yes I do not agree with all the pathetic reasons for us being in a war of choice, spawned by the glaring and most unsophisticated trumped up WMD propoganda while the real source of terrorists are in a veritable sanctuary on the Paki-Afghan border, watching new combatants pick apart our best and brightest. Since we no longer have the intelligence for resourcing this war properly, hence no end game, short of paying gold-plated private forces to protect an ever-evaporating sanctuary in Baghdad, expect a lot of flight time in Iraq during your career.

Posted by: C | October 7, 2005 03:52 AM

I'm with "Old Army Guy." Coming from a largely military family, and having a lot less direction than my peers, I dropped out of college in '62, joined the Army, became a Green Beret, and served in 'Nam in '64-'65. After "enjoying" (surviving) the combat experience, I returned home and re-started college. At the end of that, still not feeling any "tug" in one direction or another, I joined the Navy, attended OCS, and became a Navy frogman, first in Underwater Demolition Teams, and later in SEAL Teams, retiring in 1991. I will be forever grateful for the experiences I've had, the places I've been, the opportunities that were provided to me and the stupid stunts that I survived. I got the chance to visit exotic (both beautiful and dangerous) places, to train and interact with foreign soldiers and sailors (Philippines, Indonesia, Korea, El Salvador), to build my own mini-Navy (El Salvador), and to influence the structure of the US military special operations forces (Pentagon). My service allowed me to complete two Masters degrees, attend the Defense Intelligence College and the National War College, and to parlay all that into a second (third?) career with the CIA. Having said that, I can understand the reluctance of today's youth to volunteer and serve, given the lack of credibility of the past several Administrations, and their overzeal in becoming involved in what I can only describe as "foreign adventurism." And I can also understand the reluctance of those who serve, to serving with those who choose to serve only for the alleged benefits. If you have no desire to place yourself in harm's way, do not join...I want someone at my back that I can rely on, thick and thin, and you probably won't be that someone. 'Nuf said.

Posted by: resqdogs | November 7, 2005 03:55 PM

The military is a job. It's not a calling. You do the work and get the pay, education is included.It takes a certain amount of discipline to complete twenty years but the reward of lifetime income makes it much easier in old age. My classmates of 1969 high school graduates are scrambling to make it to a payable retirement and worrying but with my military retirement, ss and a retirement from goverment service all lifetime payments my worries are few. Thanks Uncle Sam.

Posted by: TED | February 3, 2006 10:06 AM

First I have to start out by saying that not all recruiters lie! Everything my recruiter told me has been true, plus there is a lot that she didn't tell me that I came to find out was good. I have been in the Army National Guard for 9 years I am a E-6 and I love it. I am also in the younger generation, I am willing to die for my country to save other peoples lives. I never went to college instead I started my own construction company and serve one weekend a month. The biggest difference I see with active duty recruiters and National Guard recruiters is that in the guard you see all of the jobs that are available in the area you want to be stationed for your weekend drills. You pick that job and you get it, there is no wish list or anything like that.

Oh and a shout out to Steve, the military is for chumps??????? I'm sorry you feel that way and I will still do whatever needs to be done to keep the american people safe. In the future please don't call military people chumps, we are doing a tough honorable job, and being called chumps sure doesn't help the moral any.

I am proud to be in the Army National Guard and I am going to go for retirement.

Posted by: Casey | April 19, 2006 12:52 PM

Karen, E. Etage, Costello - why are you so intent on attacking Bert for something that happened 10 years ago? He's putting some of his background out there in public, something that might be embarassing - basically admitting he was young and stupid, or at least disorganized in not payingn his tuition on time -- and you're flaming him as if he were still that 19 or 20 year old, and had somethign to learn from your scolding.

Costello - somebody who actually knows Bert speaks up for him, and you try to challenge that person's assessment, based solely on Bert's blog entry. Why do you think you can infer so much about this man from his brief summary of his reasons for approaching military recruiters?

He's a military officer -- the Army trusts him to lead soldiers and fly expensive helicopters. I think maybe we can recognize that the man is a grown-up.

Karen, he madea couple of wry remarks about recruiters. Anybody who's ever been recruited into the military does as much. Probably including recruiters. As you mature in the military you learn that, as you and Dejah have pointed out, that recruiters work hard. We all respect that. Still, the first interactions of a callow kid with those extremely driven (and sometimes desperate) professionals are usually funny, especially in retrospect.

Dejah, God bless you and your husband. I'm a Marine, and was recently stationed at Parris Island, whose commanding general is responsible for the Eastern Recruiting Region, as well as the Recruit Depot. The Depot Adjutant was a friend of mine, and we talked about the numebr of relief packages and adverse fitness reports on recruiters that came across her desk. It's a hard job. Marine Corps order requires a recruiter to get an adverse fitness report (which can prevent future promotions) . A lot of those required reports come in with the officer writing the report stating that sergeant or staff sergeant whoever is an outstanding Marine, hardworking and conscientious, and the officer would never have written an adverse report if he hadn't been forced to. Recruiters' careers are more or less in the hands of the aforementioned callow kids, who are steered away by other adults, change their minds, weren't really serious in then first place, etc.
At the moment, the job is harder than ever, because there are a significant number of people who don't want anything to do with the Iraq war, or whose parents don't want them to go there. There's probably no non-combat, stateside job that's harder, although drill instructors get their props, too, for the 80-100 hour, high intensity work weeks that it takes to make Marines of the men and women that the recruiters do bring in. These two types of Marines, and their counterparts in other services, accomplish the mission that makes our other missions possible.

Semper Fi!


Posted by: Sue | May 13, 2006 12:56 PM

Yes it is called an all volenteer military this day and age, but lets take a look at something. Since this Iraq thing began the military has had a very difficult time to get enough people to keep the numbers up. We may not have the draft enacted today, but something which is almost like it. In 2002 because of the declining numbers in troops, the military recruiting machine, the pentegon and probally the think tanks in the White House decided to put a new law in effect. It requires high schools to provide names, addresses, and telephone numbers of 11th and 12th grade students. Some get harrassed alot and they don't seem to understand the word no and don't call back, it is just like a high pressure sales pitch at a car dealership, they need a quota or they will be put in an infantry unit and be sent to Iraq themselves instead of a cushy job in a recruiters office. They only tell half of the truth the benefits, but hardly tell of the risks involved, they only half paint the wall. There is a place for partents to opt out of the whole thing, but you need a magnifing glass to see where this is and I believe that the schools are told not to encourage going to that page, it would be best to put this on the first page in bold, big, and colored letters and paper so it sticks out. I served and made it through, but never had anything like this tactic, I feel that this is an invasion of privacy.

Posted by: SLIDER | September 27, 2006 12:39 PM

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