I am posting here just because I don't know anywhere else to vent. My friends and family don't seem to understand my feelings lately.
I am 34 years old and will turn 35 in November. I am a high school history teacher (and a damn good one too!).
I went through my 20's not caring for the thought of military service. I was put off by the government's mistreatment of our soldiers who suffered from Gulf War Syndrome and by the shadows of Vietnam which lingered heavily in the 80's. I also didn't care to fight in any of Clinton's "distractions."
But now that I am more mature I am starting to seriously regret not serving my country.
I have a new baby coming in August (my first!) but after that I am giving some serious thought to joining the slugfest in the desert.
I would have to join before November or I'll be too old.
My family thinks I am just nuts, especially my dad who is a distinguished Vietnam vet.
I am too old to go in as an officer so I'd start out just like any other grunt. I'm not sure if I can handle kids giving me orders, nor am I sure I have the level of fitness I'd need. I am scared to death that I might not have what it takes to be perfectly honest.
Maybe the Army reserve would be a better place for me? I love my country second only to my God and I want to help out and make more of a differance so badly.
Am I nuts? I'd really appreciate some opinions and guidance from my elders here.
If you enjoyed reading about "Blowing off some steam" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
March 27, 2003, 02:46 PM
Did my time in the '70's, which, I'm told, was a different Army. I doubt it, since the stories I read from the Korea and so forth are familiar.
In any case, I was sent to Germany, not nam, and at least I had to good sense not to ask to go.
Did another 3 years of NG after that, which, in truth, was a bit of fun, since it was the only vacation I got between the concurrent full time college and full time work.
So, I can't match the authority of your father.
I don't think that you're nuts: I wonder how many vets, after watching the second plane drive into the tower, could possibily NOT want to be a part of the payback.
I'd go, but common sense, on my side and the service's, intrudes.
Playing Army is a young man's game, and so is best played by such. The entire military experience cannot be explained, it must be lived, but there is a line where you simply know too much to function well in that environment, especially as your basic grunt.
FWIW, with your education, you'd end up a clerk of some type somewhere, with a military sponsered trip to the range once a year, paper work permitting, semi-auto only, so you're not going to miss much.
You have other responsibilities, and another place to fill in society, and, if you can manage that, you've done your duty.
Relax, help when you can, and don't worry about what you "missed".
March 27, 2003, 02:51 PM
I had the same thoughts just after 9/11. The wife and I had some real serious talks about my reenlistment in the Marine Corps. I decided that I have already served my country and that I needed to be here for my wife and our future children. That said, maybe you can look into serving in the Coast Guard or the National Guard. It's not the same per se, but you are still providing a valuable service to your country and you can still keep your teaching job.
March 27, 2003, 02:55 PM
Hard to improve on benewton's post but I will add that with a child on the way you can better serve your country by being there for him/her.
I believe that raising a child properly may be the most important responsibility one can have to their country.
How much has America deteriorated in the last 20 years because of incomplete/inadequate family units?
March 27, 2003, 02:58 PM
I think benewton gave you good advice. It's a young man's game and just because you're 100% smarter than most because of your age, you are going to be subjected to the same BS they are. It's nice to know that some people still have a conscience. :)
March 27, 2003, 03:01 PM
become a volunter firefighter and help your country here. some of the old guys at mine'll tell ya all kinds of war stories that'll make you glad you weren't there. plus you get to ride on a big truck w/ blinking lights, learn how to save a life (very useful since you said your first kid's comin along), and maybe even get to drive the big truck. and your kid can say his dad's a firefighter, ain't that cool? :)
March 27, 2003, 03:07 PM
Hmmm.firefighter! Hadn't considered it actually!
Only one downside though..no guns :)
Actually, my ex-father-in-law is a firfighter and you know what about 25% of his job is?... he goes out and shoot coyotes that are endangering farms! He has to be a very good hunter and shoot at some insane ranges. Not a bad job!
So what's the National Guard like? Are they weekend warriors?
March 27, 2003, 03:25 PM
If you want to join the military, go for it. If you're out of shape, remember that's what Basic Training is for. Your family doesn't want you to join for their own selfish reasons, and you're thinking about joining for your own. Do what makes you happy, not some one else.
March 27, 2003, 03:33 PM
You have a family to consider now...esp w/ baby on the way. I would go w/ the idea of serving your country here.
March 27, 2003, 03:39 PM
Your emotional response is normal and commendable. But the reality is your time to serve has passed and the responsibilities you've undertaken are more important now. You are more needed as a husband, father and an effective high school teacher, even if it seems less glamorous. The secret happiness is to be content wherever you wind up as a result of your earlier decisions and to carry out every responsibility you've undertaken faithfully. If the country runs out of 19 year olds, you'll get your chance. Until then, be the best you can be at what you have to before you. Sorry if that's not what you want to hear, but that's my best judgement.
March 27, 2003, 03:55 PM
You can help this country by being the best teacher you can be. No guns but you're just as underpaid as soldiers & cops!
I have read and reread your post with a greqt deal of interest. I must say that I am deeply impressed by your sense of commitment but I think that you should NOT join the military. Let me clarify. Although I am now retired I was an educator for over 40 years. It is my considered opinion that so many teachers these days are extremely liberal to the point of being anti establishment - even anti American. And, sad to say, they make their personal, political point of view a part of the curriculum for very impressionable kids. It is important to the point of being critical that there are teachers who stand for the kind of values that you seem to profess and, more important, convey those to the kids to whom you teach history. While I admire your zeal greatly I urge you to direct it toward those kids you teach. What you do each day in your classroom is the most important thing that goes on in your community. Continue to do that well! Good shooting;)
March 27, 2003, 05:38 PM
First off, I'm not even sure you CAN enlist at age 35...The maximum age varies for each service, but I want to say that 31 is the oldest you can be.
I know somewhat how you feel. I just got out of the Navy 6 months ago after serving 9 years. Following 9/11, I thought a great deal about staying in...the getting even factor. But...I just push submarines. The chances of you getting to do anything that would actually effect someone who hurt Americans are slim to none.
As most other people say, you could be more valuable here at home. If you are in fact a Damn Good History Teacher(giving you the benifit of the doubt, here :D ) then you can have a greater effect on the next generation and making the US a better place than you could ever have in the military.
March 27, 2003, 05:46 PM
IIRC, ' saw a trailer on the tube today about a teacher who quit (or got fired?) after a problem with his wearing shirt with anti-war sentiments.
IMHO, we need more of your kind and far less of his in our schools. It sounds like your "service" is sound at home.
March 27, 2003, 05:55 PM
The service people fight the wars and die in combat, etc.
As a history teacher, you make sure new generations don't forget them. I'd say that's a pretty dang good way to serve the people who have fought and died for this country. The job you have is VERY important to our survival as a country and a culture.
Those of us who study and love history already think you are a hero for teaching it to our children.
Be mighty proud about what you do sir.
March 27, 2003, 06:05 PM
"IIRC, ' saw a trailer on the tube today about a teacher who quit (or got fired?) after a problem with his wearing shirt with anti-war sentiments."
I saw that too. Stupid teacher.
Most of the teachers here are pretty good and non-political. It's the big city schools that have most of the problems I think.
Most say that a good teacher is one who can hide his own political biases. I tend to disagree.
In fact, I make my students sign a paper at the beginning of the year that tells them where I lean politically. It says that their grade will in no way be affected if they disagree with me. In fact, the ones who can disagree and back up their opinions are VERY likely to make an "A."
I make sure they aren't scared to tell my I am full of crap if they think I am. My main concern if teaching them to think for themselves and learn to see all sides to every story.
We have some wonderful debates nearly every day!
You'd be amazed how informed some kids are!
My kids are really good. They pretty much all think the war protesters are idiots and by the time I am done with them they all have a strong sense of what makes America so great. I still have to fight their sense of moral relativism but they eventually grow out of it.
March 27, 2003, 06:09 PM
You are serving your country by being the best teacher you can, besides, some of us have to stay here and guard the home front. You are also serving your country by raising your children instead of running off. I already called, the nav will take me back in a heartbeat, given my air conditioning and refrigeration experience, I could be on a ship in the gulf within a month I'll bet, except for my kids. What about them? So here I stay. If youre not already obligated to leave your kids for this war, DO NOT go out and obligate yourself.
March 27, 2003, 06:18 PM
Am I nuts?Not in my opinion. You sound like someone that uses their brain to think, as well as feel. I'd really appreciate some opinions and guidance from my elders here.I'm only 6 years older than you, but here it goes.
I'd rather that you stayed in teaching. Our public education system is being destroyed from within by people whose only goal is to indoctrinate America's youth with their socialist garbage. Our future generations are awash in a sea of ignorance because of them. Only you, and other teachers like you, can stem that tide.
In your lifetime you may touch, and change for the better, thousands of kid's lives. Having the opportunity to enlighten the mind of another human being is a powerful and blessed thing. Cherish it.
Do the best you can for your family, friends, and country. Nobody can legitimately ask more of a person than that. When I served in the military, it wasn't for President Carter, nor was it for President Reagan. It was for my family, my friends, and my country.
March 27, 2003, 06:38 PM
I missed something liberal, which I will almost always do...
I watched the second plane go in, since I normally work at home, and had paid the bucks, and spent the time, to get my private pilot's ticket. Thus, I knew that the action couldn't be an accident.
Then, or now, I can't express the rage that I feel, nor can I understand how anyone else could fail to feel the same way. And so I understand, in detail, the urge to go.
So, thanks for your thoughts and intentions: it's nice to know that there are still good people out and about.
Skip the NG: they'll take you when they want, and you've no time to even plan to take care of your own, and it's probably worse in the reserves
Ignore me, or us, I guess, and pay attention to to your father.
'cause, like in most cases dealing with THE dad, he's right.
March 27, 2003, 07:04 PM
Ok I'll stay home...but if I see one terrorist anywhere near my house you can be assured I will ventilate him on sight :)
"it wasn't for President Carter, nor was it for President Reagan"
You served under Carter and are only 6 years my senior! Oh dear God I am old! LOL :)
Thanks for the comments guys!
March 27, 2003, 07:10 PM
In my opinion, a clear-thinking educator and dedicated father are of far more use to this country than another E-1 bullet sponge.
I respect and understand your desire to serve.. I tried the military route, but I have too much debt to enlist, they DQ'ed me for my checkbook :) I'm currently trying to channel my desire to serve into either Sheriff's Reserve or Volunteer Fire.
In the modern world, the lines between 'over there' and 'over here' have become blurred to the point that service is service, no matter where you lay your head at night. You may have other options you haven't thought of, but make sure and be there for that baby.
March 27, 2003, 07:28 PM
I am going to be one of the few dissenting voices here, largely because I know exactly how you feel.
I joined the Army at 18 and went to training at 19 (I am 32 now). Unfortunately, I had a bad ankle and was discharged after basic. I probably would have re-joined when able (2 years is the required wait after an Entry Level Separation) but I let myself get out of shape. Every time we ended up in a military action I felt a strong sense of duty and honor that I had to find a way to go. Of course everything was small enough that I couldn't do much. Today is different, even if short it is intense and there are ways people like us (older and with our education) can make a difference for those kids after the fact.
I think you may want to consider something like what I'm thinking about (if I can lose about 40lbs first and there are one or two other things that I have to look into because of my religion).
Leave the Infantry to the kids. We are older, yes the maturity could be valuable, but not as much as it could be since we are without the military experience. We also aren't as strong and our endurance isn't what it was a decade ago.
However, we can make a difference. You have skills, life experience, and education that no 18 year old can match. Why not use it to help those kids. You are a HS teacher, remember many of those combat soldiers are kids not much older than your students. They don't magically cease to need you because they are over 18 and wear a uniform. Why not do what you can.
For me, I have a degree in psychology and I plan to go on to grad school in psych (and as a substitute teacher, including a few stints as a long-term sub, I've developed teaching skills). I am thinking that with how intense this fighting is these kids (and the older NCOs and officers too) will be needing counseling, and in some cases serious mental health help, for some time to come. If everything can come together by summer (I'm thinking about a 50/50 chance) I'll be going into the Reserves or Guard as a mental health counselor (it is an enlisted job). I figure I can make a far greater contribution as a good counselor for soldiers who will be needing them than as a (probably only) mediocre Infantryman or Combat Arms soldier who will probably miss the action anyway (remember, minimum training time is still going to be several months).
If you aren't interested in doing counseling look into your skills and interests to see where you can help. Do you have language skills, military intelligence. Do you have CPR/First Aid skills or experience (or were you a life guard as a youth), maybe training as a surgical tech, or some other medical technician. Computer skills, maybe a computer tech or signals. How about civil affairs (they help take care of civilians in a combat zone, or during occupation), psychological warfare (the guys trying to "psych" the bad guys out), or similar? Are you very religious, maybe going in as a Chaplain's Assistant would be attractive to you. Maybe you have a hobby that could be directly useful. The military has hundreds of jobs, many are suited to an older, out of shape, civilian like us.
If you join the Reserves or Guard you can keep your job after training, you can be there with your family, but you'll also be there for your country when it needs it. If you join the Army as an enlisted soldier with a degree you will go in as a Specialist/E4 (other services cap the entry rank at E3, I think the Army will still go to E4). I think the max age is still 36 (Army only, the others cap the age well under that) so if you decide to do it you should still be ok there (I went through Basic with several "older" guys, including one who was 35, and most did just fine).
Heck, even for us "older" guys there are even selfish reasons to justify going (we may be more likely to need to "justify it"). In addition to the satisfaction of serving you may be able have some real financial benefits. If you have student loans the military will help pay them (up to $60K active Army, I think the Reserves are still $8K as they were over a decade ago). If you may go for a graduate degree the GI Bill and Army College Fund can be used for graduate education, in some fields you may be able to get the military itself to pay for graduate education and in exchange you'd "have" to take a commission and stay as an officer for X number of years. You can use the commisary and PX (discount groceries and department stores). You may be able to qualify for VA benefits (discounted mortgage or other loans, some medical help). Cheap servicemembers life insurance is available. The extra few hundred bucks a month can be useful (esp. if put right into savings or a pension plan) and if you really like it you can get a full pension for serving only 20 years in a part-time job.
March 27, 2003, 07:45 PM
My Bro in law was going to join up for Gulf I but got in trouble with the law before he signed up. 10 year probation.
Now that he is 30 he feels its time for him to sign up. No kids
Crappy job. Not so great homelife.
For him I think its a good idea to turn his life around.
For a good history teacher with a kid coming it might be a tough call. however, you can't go the rest of your life with strong regrets.
If you are compelled to go join up then maybe the reserves
would be a good idea.
a couple hundred bucks a month, go train two weekends per month in your MOS and go through basic.
You might get called up to active duty as well.
When you do reserves you always have your job waiting when you come back...
Just my 02c
March 27, 2003, 07:55 PM
I went through the same thing back when I was 30. I'm 36 now. To make a long story short, I wanted to join the Marines after high school and even went to the recruiter’s office and filled out some forms and did some tests. I was ready to go but my parents told me that if I didn't go straight to college, I would be disowned. I had a lot of pressure not to go and I finally gave in and went to college. I regretted that decision ever since and I think my parents now realize that they should have let me go as well.
Well, after graduate school and marriage, I still wanted to join so I stopped by the Army recruiter’s office and spoke to them for awhile. Talk about a hard sell. It was worse than being in a used car lot. They really turned me off about the whole thing. I wanted to join to serve my country and also to belong to an organization that believed in honor and loyalty, but what I found was that image of the military is an idealized picture that I created when I was young and naive. I still wished I had joined when I was 18 but now realize that benewton is right. It’s a young man's game.
If you enjoyed reading about "Blowing off some steam" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!