Saturday, May 17, 2008

To Serve or not to Serve - A Primer


The military, specifically the army and marines, is desperately trying to meet recruitment quotas to fill the dwindling ranks of available troops needed to continue the war crimes war in Iraq. The recruiters are essentially salespeople. Just what is it they have to sell to you, the potential recruit?

As a new recruit you will receive free housing - in barracks that were built in 1940, are in a miserable state of disrepair, are infested with god knows what kinds of vermin, and where you don't get to have the top bunk, you need to have the top bunk to avoid the rising level of flooding sewage. And you get to have supervisors who are apparently so stupid and so blind that they didn't recognize the problem until it appeared in the newspapers.

As a new recruit you will receive free medical care. This is really important because chances are very good, considering where you're going to be serving, that you are gonna need lots of medical care. This care will be delivered within no more than a year or two from the time you need it and, if you are an inpatient, its very likely that you will be housed in a facility just about as filthy and infested as your barracks. You should feel right at home.

(Caution 1: Do keep in mind that your Commander in Chief has declared that your free medical benefits are a privilege, not a right, and you may be judged unworthy to receive them.
Caution 2: Being a good Republican, the last thing your Commander in Chief wants is a bunch of troops who really know what the war is like voting in the upcoming election. So if you want to exercise your right as an American to register to vote while you recover from your wounds, have someone from outside assist you. The VA has been instructed not to.)

As a new recruit you will receive free mental health care. Maybe. Or maybe you won't. It all depends on how successful the VA is in covering up your suicidal tendencies or intentionally misdiagnosing your PTSD in order to protect the administration and save money. If they are successful (and they have a good track record) and you end up committing suicide, don't be afraid that your case will be lost among the other thousands of vets who commit suicide each year. The VA will manipulate those numbers so it appears that you are just one of hundreds, not thousands.

As a new recruit you will have access to religious services and even organized faith groups where you can study and worship with your peers. These are only Christian groups of course as America is a Christian nation. If you happen to be of another faith, and don't elect to participate, that is your choice. You will probably be humiliated, physically abused or otherwise derided for it but it is your choice. The military is all about choices.

As a new recruit you may be trained by superiors (sergeants) who have already served in the war and bring the benefits of their experiences to your training. However, they may be among the thousands who have untreated PTSD or mind altering brain injuries so caution is advised. Especially on the rifle range.

It is very likely that your superiors are as poorly educated as you are because they joined up for the same reason that you did. Like you, they are from poor families, from miserably poor areas with miserably poor education systems, and the best way, perhaps the only way, that they and you can get into college is to have the military pay for it. If they, and you survive that long.

Speaking of education, as a new recruit you are eligible for college assistance. Maybe. Your superiors may, as they have done in the past, decide that your enlistment period falls one day short of the required time for eligibility, apologize for your misunderstanding of the procedures, and send you home to pay for your own damn education. Your a soldier. Don't whine about it.

In any case, keep a close eye on the current legislation because your Commander in Chief is ever vigilant in his efforts to reduce your education benefits. His belief is that if the soldiers knew they had good education benefits waiting for them, they wouldn't stay in the military. They would get out. And we can't have that. Not when it's so hard getting them to join in the first place. I'm sure you agree that we all have to sacrifice for the war effort. You give up your promised education benefit and maybe your legs or arms or eyes or even your life. He gives up golf. It all helps out.

As a recruit you get to travel and see the world. The popular stop right now is Iraq. If you get to go at all, you get to stay for 12 months. Actually, check that, its probably going to be 15 months. And you'll get to go multiple times. You will get short breaks in between to say hello and goodbye to your increasingly estranged family. Its best that you don't spend too much time with them anyway because they will be horrified at the frightening changes that have come over you since your last visit.

While you are in Iraq you will be trying to kill Iraqi people and Iraqi people will be trying to kill you. They will be trying to kill you because we invaded their country for no reason, destroyed their culture and slaughtered their families. You will be trying to kill them because they had nothing to do with 9-11. Its a perfect fit.

These are not all of the key selling points the recruiters have at their fingertips but its a start. I haven't even touched upon the low pay or the close camaraderie between fellow troops, whether on the battlefield, in the hospital, in the amputee rehab facility or in the mental health ward. I haven't even mentioned the available legal services whose efforts will not only assure that you won't be held responsible for any of those pesky war crimes that you may be ordered to commit, but may even help with the divorce from that utterly horrified wife that I mentioned above.

And finally, I have not even broached the career possibilities and opportunities for advancement. The military offers its career enlisted people low but dependable pay, mediocre to poor medical care, substandard housing and food, and poor supervision all in a drab, colorless and/or hostile environment.

On the positive side, don't think that your lack of education and insight will hold you back because it won't. I've been in the army myself and I have had staff sergeants, SFC's, master sergeants and even a Command Sergeant Major who were still just as narrow minded and dumb as a doorknob as the day they joined. And while staying in does increase the possibility of losing life or body parts, I think its clear that the benefits, if you're lucky enough to actually get any, far outweigh the risks.

cross posted from World Gone Mad

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Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

I tried not to laugh - because it isn't funny, but laughing is easier than crying and doing something about it seems out of reach.

10:02:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

What Fogg said.

11:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whats funny, not funny Ha Ha but funny strange, is that, judging from the lack of online posts and followup comments, America really doesn't give a rats ass about these veterans anyway. Like everything else, they rant and rave for a day or two about a news story like Walter Reed, then forget about it and go buy the newest cell phone.

Its abundantly clear that the country has gone into the toilet. Its just sad that it is the veterans who get used as the toilet paper - try to clean up the mess and then get flushed away.

6:56:00 PM  

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