As a retired infantry Army officer and Vietnam veteran I am frequently asked if I would recommend that someone volunteer to enter today's military service. The following are some of my thoughts.
Why do they want to enlist? Or become an officer? Most don't know the difference. A few are aware of the benefits of active duty, enlistment bonuses, and later, GI educational benefits, medical assistance and home loan opportunities.
How many combat tours do they want to do? It is tax free. I explain "dwell" time, which is time at home station before going back again. This primes them for the 70 percent divorce rate. (I usually mention the suicide rate somewhere in here.) There are questions of how the "don't ask, don't tell" policy works or doesn't work.
I explain the current rules of engagement in Afghanistan, which favor the enemy, and cite a few courts martial and ruined careers of some of our finest because of those rules. I do note they will be well-trained in SWAT tactics and other tactics used for the last eight years: Use the roads, get blown up; build bigger vehicles, use the roads, get blown up.
They would need a clean record to get a security clearance if they wanted to get promoted and be able to work in classified areas. They would be "vetted" and someone from the FBI would ask who were your friends, what countries you visited and review your school records. Somehow this security process does not apply to presidents of the United States.
One person was concerned because he had seen President Obama bow to the king of Saudi Arabia, which provided 17 of the 9/11 hijackers. I told him not to worry, that the Saudi Arabian Wahabi Islamic sect would provide replacements.
However, many things are different than when I was a young infantry officer in Vietnam fighting the communists.
President Johnson and his secretary of defense (MacNamara) advised the American people that if the communists were not stopped in Southeast Asia, they would soon be here.
Us grunts knew they were wrong: Their sampans wouldn't go that far. We were wrong.
They made it here and are running the country. However, President Obama does have an excellent hand salute: Someone taught him well.
God bless America and the great young Americans who decide to serve.