When I was eighteen, the U.S. Army promised I could “be all that you can be.”
The Navy said “It’s not just a job, it’s an adventure.”
The Marines were all about “The few — the proud — the Marines.”
And the Air Force promised “a great way of life.”
I guess I wanted a great way of life, so I joined the Air Force.
Seriously, I never thought I’d serve for twenty years in uniform. My career was relatively easy in the sense that no one ever shot at me, nor did I ever have to take a life. I got an excellent education, met good people, went to interesting places, and got to teach a subject I loved for six years.
Recently, I learned that a member of my family is thinking of joining the military after high school. He hasn’t asked for my advice, but his interest in wearing the uniform made me think about the advice I’d give him if he did ask.
What can you say to young men and women that can help them to make an informed decision — the best possible one for them?
It’s easy to be gung-ho about the military. It’s also easy, I think, to dismiss military service with extreme prejudice.
The best advice is honest, balanced, and attuned to the person seeking it.
In this spirit, what would I say to a young person contemplating enlisting in the military?
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