Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Our Son Deploys to Iraq 

Too often we take our 100% voluntary military for granted. "Of course they'll be there to defend us; yes we have the best military on the planet, by all measurements." They are the best trained, the best equipped (when Congress allocates the funds to let them do their job), and the most humane military that has ever existed. Does our military have outliers? Of course - every group, no matter whether it's national, political, social, religious, ethnic, cultural, etc. has outliers. It's called "humanity."

Our son participated in a ROTC program and now he is a 1st LT in the US Army and yesterday, deployed to Iraq. Already he's spent a year in Korea but going to Iraq is a bit different - travel, ease of mobility, etc. are not the same as Korea. But, the experience of spending a year in Asia and now, another one in the Middle East - how can one buy that? Can't.

The knowledge he will gain on this deployment will be invaluable - he will be working with the logistics team that must log, value, and transport all the equipment we still have in Iraq. Those who understand logistics will appreciate the magnitude of this project.

Why am I sharing this? We do take our military for granted - for every 200 of us, there is one (1) full-time military personnel. What this subset of society accomplishes is far more than the 0.5% of the population it comprises.

I've taught a number of guys from the MN Red Bull National Guard unit in my classes. To a man, they are more mature, responsible, and confident than most of my students. They can lead, they can follow. They present well.

It is a shame that too many schools now make it difficult for young people to even hear what the military has to offer them. For so many who have spent their years in a dumbed down education system, one more interested in "feeling good" than learning what one can do, the military provides a challenging and yes, rewarding life option.

When I tell people that he is going to Iraq, the comment is too often a bit of a downer, "Oh, well..... How do you feel?" and it goes downhill from there. Our response is this: "Would you give a negative response to someone who joins the police force? the fire department, a personal security firm? No, yet these are dangerous jobs. Why, then, give a negative response regarding someone who chooses the military?" Their approach shifts.

As for our son, this is his choice and we fully support him. Yes, we are very proud of him.