They Must Really Mean It

Monday, April 12, 2010

You've probably seen the television commercials for the military. A young man stands by his father's truck, or a young woman talks to her mother in the kitchen. Both of them (the younger generation, not the parents) want to join the military. The commercials' tag line? "It's a big decision. Talk about it."

They must really mean it.

My 23-year-old son just enlisted in the Navy. And in spite of John's "advanced" age, the recruiter met with Roland and me at our home to answer our questions and make sure we understand what John will be doing for the next six or seven years. (Yes, six or seven. Keep reading to find out how I did the math.) Apparently the Navy requires the recruiter to hold this meeting within 72 hours after enlistment. It's not really a "buyer's remorse" period that lets John get out of it if we aren't happy with his choice, but the military does seem to be serious about communicating with parents.

The recruiter left his business card and asked us to call if we have any other questions. He said he would also check in with us occasionally.

John is going into nuclear engineering, which requires a six-year commitment: the first two just for training. Because they can only slot in so many people at a time, he's in a delayed entry program and may not even leave for boot camp until January. But he's already in indentured servitude.

I don't mean that negatively. After all, indentured servitude was a way for many European immigrants to pursue the American dream. It was a voluntary choice by people with a strong desire to come to America but no money to pay the fare. And yes, sometimes the conditions were atrocious, but the servitude was a means to an end, and the end was freedom in this country.

Back in the present, I am using the term to describe the many rules and regulations John must comply with long before he enters active service. No drugs (works for me), no getting into trouble with the law (also works for me), and staying physically fit (or becoming more physically fit). He has to attend one meeting a month, stop by the recruiting office a second time during the month, and check in by telephone every week. He also has to sign a document each month that says he stayed clean and out of trouble. All that, and he isn't even getting a paycheck yet! But I'm guessing that it will be worth it.

Actually, I find the entire process reassuring. The military may be a strict parent, but it also appears to be a considerate one.

And that's just what I want for my son.

1 comment:

Project Journal said...

Wow, good for him if that's what he wants to do. I have to give credit for the people that are willing to go into the army, navy, etc. because I know that I wouldn't want to do that. Somebody has to do the job and it's comforting to know that at this time and place in the world, we don't need a draft and kids and people are still willing to enlist.

Thank you, John, for supporting our country!

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