scouts-l Mail Archive for November of 1999: Re: why young people don't join the military
Anthony Mako (ajmako@NLS.NET
Thu Nov 18 1999 - 09:50:12 CST
<Rik Bergethon wrote>
In my opinion, the military has trouble filling their positions with
"qualified" recruits, because right now the economy is good and qualified
graduates can get a good job with training right out of high school, or they
go on to college trade school or an in-house training program. Those that
can't get this kind of opportunity will try the military, which means the
military is getting all "unqualified" recruits.
There's one other reason the military is having trouble. Even if the
recruits are "unqualified," military training has always been good at
quickly turning "unqualified" personnel into qualified personnel.
Unfortunately, once they get that recruit properly trained, they can't keep
him long because the pay and benefits remain mostly sub-standard.
The pay and benefits service men and women received when I was in the
military (1989-1996) was only slightly better than it was during the
immediate post-Viet Nam era (compared to comparable civilian wages). Now,
three years later, little has been done to improve the situation. When I was
in the military, I was often told it would be impossible to find a better
paying (including benefits) job out in the "real world." By the time I left
the military, the economy was so good it only took nine months (I was being
very picky) to find the job I had been told didn't exist.
Since W.W.II and Korea, and the advent of the six o'clock news, there is no
"patriotic duty" to join the military. The six o'clock news during the Viet
Nam War turned too many people off to the reality of war. During W.W.II,
letters home were censored. During Viet Nam, CBS, NBC, etc. broadcast those
letters home, uncensored.
I would have to agree with this assessment, except for a period between 1984
and 1993. Between those years, military service was a good option for young
people. Serving one's country, and learning a valuable technical skill,
seemed to be preferable to flipping hamburgers for minimum wage. Today, that
really isn't the case. ASIDE: I should point out that when I joined in 1989,
the President wasn't in the habit of "sending in the Marines" every time a
country we don't like sneezed. One of the "cons" on my list was "you could
die in a war" next to which I wrote the note "not much chance of that!"
This resurgence in "patriotic duty" lasted for about a year after the Gulf
War and into the beginnings of the post-Cold War realignment. After that, it
was all the military could do to bring in enough people to fill critical
positions. That made life harder for the individual service men and women,
and greatly impacted the readiness of the military.
I, too, teach the citizenship merit badges, and find that 11 or 12 year
olds, don't have any concept of citizenship. Maybe we should reserve those
MB's for 17 and 18 year olds, where they might have a better chance of
I can't agree with this, however. Kids may not have a very good concept of
citizenship when they are 11 or 12, but in Scouting at least, they have the
opportunity to not only learn what citizenship is, but experience it. That's
part of electing their own leaders, learning to live with their decisions,
and doing their part for their troop and patrol. They also learn to make
their own rules, and live by them. They learn that they also have to enforce
those rules, enforce them fairly, and determine the consequences for those
who break the rules.
Eleven and twelve year olds CAN understand citizenship, if you show them how
being a citizen of a community, nation, or the world, is much like being a
member of Scouting. Compare what they do in the patrol and troop with what
their parents do as enfranchised citizens of their community, state, and
nation, and they will begin to understand what citizenship is all about. By
the time they are old enough to vote, they will have such a good
understanding of what it means to be a citizen, that they will make us all
very proud (and they'll proudly join the ranks of the 10% who serve in the
military, or 49% who vote in every election).
ANOTHER ASIDE: I cannot honestly say that "patriotic duty" was the
overwhelming reason I joined the military. It was probably third or fourth
behind "the pay is four times better than what I make now" and "they'll pay
me to learn a skill" and "they'll pay me to travel around the world."
A. J. Mako, email@example.com, SM Troop 381 http://www.Scouts381.org/
Old Portage District, Great Trail Council, BSA
Home of the Win95 & Win98 Boy Scout Desktop Themes
Gulf War Veteran