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      The U.S. Military has lots of complex missions, from fighting wars to building the advanced equipment and weapons needed to fight them. People are always amazed, for instance, the first time they step foot into the mile-long Air Force Plant No. 4 on Fort Worth's west side and see multi-million-dollar fighter jets rolling off the assembly line. But as stunning as that is to behold, it's nothing compared to the job of retooling more than 100,000 kids into U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines year after year.
         And as the Iraq war drags into its fifth year next month, the raw material that the Defense Department has been molding into freshly-minted troops since 9/11 is becoming a little frayed. That's led the military to boost recruiting incentives, but even that is not always enough. So when the sign-up bonuses don't bring in sufficient bodies, the military has long held its nose and issued a variety of waivers to allow once-barred candidates to join the services.  

         

         

Not surprisingly, given the grinding ground war in Iraq, the Army and Marine Corps are the two branches issuing the most waivers these days. The Army granted more than double the number of waivers for felonies and misdemeanors in 2006 than it did in 2003, the year of the Iraq invasion, according to just-released Pentagon data. Such waivers allow recruits with criminal records, medical problems or poor aptitude scores to enlist despite problems that otherwise would bar them from service. Most are so-called "moral waivers," which include some felonies, misdemeanors, and drug and traffic offenses. Such waivers grew in the Army from 4,918 in 2003 to 8,129 last year. For the Marines, the total grew only slightly, from 19,195 to 20,750 (the higher Marine total is due largely to its stricter anti-drug rules for recruits). http://www.time.com/...

          Pentagon  officials think these waivers may be a good thing because waivers are going down conversely in the Air Force and the Navy. it only makes sense to me. They use the stupid reason for the waivers as them wanting to give youngsters a second chance.
          Knowing in the past that 14,000 Navy and Air Force personnel were given the choice of transferring to the Army or leave the military, I have to wonder about the value of entering the branch you want? In the past we know Bush has done whatever possible in order to keep the military ranks filled.
          I for one remember during Vietnam that some of my own friends were given the choice of prison or joining the Marines and I must admit that some jumped at the chance. That is not my fear right now! I know there are many minority groups and immigrants who look at the military as their way up or to gain citizenship. There are also many rural areas in America where the military is the only way out for many and I understand this too.
         Where I now have to open myself up is about my youngest son who is 18. I first must say that I raised his 3 older brothers and they all turned out successful. One is EOD due to leave Afghanistan April Fools Day (that is scary). Another one is due back in Qatar and Iraq where his air group will be flying support. A third son just stated that he would join if they would take him with his inhaler. I pray they will not.
          My fear as I said is with the 18 year old. Knowing that Bush is sending more troops to Afghanistan and Iraq, also that the world expects Bush to attack Iran in April, I am scared for this ill equipped youngster who due to a grossly inadequate upbringing by his mother he does not have the tools to make a living in this society.  I told him I just expected him to do the right thing after I got him graduated from grammar school to high school and I never saw or heard from him again.
          He dropped out of high school and his brothers tell me he can barely talk. His brother sad yesterday that he was going to get his GED and join the Army. You know what that means. I Know at one time only high school Grads were taken but at this point it is almost anything will be accepted. I am really hurt that I raised my sons to be independent and 2 are serving supremely.
           Now I have to fear that one who is not prepared for life and survival in a war environment is prepared to get into it because it is his only way out. I know I was left out of his upbringing so I am powerless to intervene. I also know telling you will not help the situation. I just feel I have to tell someone! What have we done?

James Joiner
Gardner, Ma
www.anaveragepatriot.com

Originally posted to jmsjoin on Thu Feb 15, 2007 at 08:26 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Appreciate your personal diary (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fabian, jmsjoin, Catrina, Sigrid of Horg

    I read the same article yesterday and connected it with another problem.  

    I wrote a diary entitled Invisible cost of Iraq just went up that described some of the potential consequences of lowering the standards for our military.

  •  Thank You! I just do not know what (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CJB, Catrina, Sigrid of Horg

    to think and that idiot Bush will pick us clean to progress with his new world order. What the hell is next? Thanks for the link!

    Repug credo: If you can't Dazzle them with Brilliance Baffle them with Bullshit! http://anaverageamericanpatriot.blogspot.com

    by jmsjoin on Thu Feb 15, 2007 at 08:52:51 AM PST

  •  I would note (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jmsjoin, Catrina, Sigrid of Horg

    You say that there are many rural areas where the military is the only way up and out.  The same can be said for urban areas.  My soon-to-be-ex-step-nephew should never have been accepted into the army.  He's a petty thief, a highschool dropout, and he has anger management issues.  But they accepted him anyway.

    Luckily for the Iraqis he went AWOL from boot camp.  But I'm sure there's kids like him who managed to hold it together slightly longer.

    The military should be a viable career path for good people who want soldier skills.  It should not be a lifelong trap into a bad situation.

    •  Of course you are right! I am just sad to see (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catrina, Sigrid of Horg

      those in need in this country for whatever reason see that their only out is to join the military and be abused and misused in his wars. It just is not right and I am afraid it will get worse quickly.
        MY lifer son who is EOD in Afghanistan loves what he is doing but after losing so many friends and seeing only a worsening of Bush's mess has decided to get out after this hitch. I hope he makes it. Also, how many feel as he does and will be replaced by those who shouldn't be there?
         Worse for me is one of my sons goes back to Iraq in April which is the time when the world expects him to attack Iran. What a mother!

      Repug credo: If you can't Dazzle them with Brilliance Baffle them with Bullshit! http://anaverageamericanpatriot.blogspot.com

      by jmsjoin on Thu Feb 15, 2007 at 11:54:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's no wonder we hear the horror (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jmsjoin, Sigrid of Horg

      stories we do from Iraq, Nina Katarina. The deterioration of morality is stunning. Granor, who was involved in the torture at Abu Ghraib is another example of someone who should never have been in the military.  But our own prison system is a disgrace also, a whole other topic.  Glad your step-nephew decided to go AWOL ~

      Speak your truth quietly, and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant, they too have their story - Max Ehrmann

      by Catrina on Thu Feb 15, 2007 at 12:20:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I am so sorry about your son, jmsjoins (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jmsjoin, Sigrid of Horg

    Is it possible that his brother might be able to help if he has a relationship with him?

    I can't even articulate how angry I feel about this administration's policies and what they have gotten us into.

    Your story is a perfect example of the costs to ordinary decent people.

    I will say a prayer that your son makes a better decision. And you are a wonderful father.  

    Speak your truth quietly, and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant, they too have their story - Max Ehrmann

    by Catrina on Thu Feb 15, 2007 at 10:47:41 AM PST

    •  I appreciate it catrina! I don't think my other s (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catrina, Sigrid of Horg

      can influence his thought process. From what I understand, there isn't one and his so called Mother could care less. She is too concerned about having her own fun.
         I have never heard of such a mother but I see that it happens. She considered me a martyr for putting my sons and everyone else first but to me that is only being considerate. Thanks again for your kind words catrina.

      Repug credo: If you can't Dazzle them with Brilliance Baffle them with Bullshit! http://anaverageamericanpatriot.blogspot.com

      by jmsjoin on Thu Feb 15, 2007 at 12:00:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  catrina you just reminded me that I was talking (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catrina, Sigrid of Horg

      to Jim in Afghanistan yesterday and his wife if having another girl. He is pretty happy! He is due home April fools day and that makes me nervous. However he is due for redeployment in December. As you said, this is unbelievable. What the heck is next?

      Repug credo: If you can't Dazzle them with Brilliance Baffle them with Bullshit! http://anaverageamericanpatriot.blogspot.com

      by jmsjoin on Thu Feb 15, 2007 at 12:06:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh, what wonderful news, jmsjoin ~ a little girl! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jmsjoin, Sigrid of Horg

        Well, you could look at the date in a positive way too ~ :-). But I understand what you mean.

        Martyr is certainly the wrong word for being a good father. Dutiful and loving, caring and so many other words come to mind. I'm sure the ones who matter, your sons, would agree.

        I had not forgotten about your other son's return and about the baby. Still lookiing forward to hearing about that reunion ~ and it's not so far away now.

        I wish I could offer something constructive regarding your youngest son. It is possible that he will be rejected though, even with the new regulations.  

        Speak your truth quietly, and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant, they too have their story - Max Ehrmann

        by Catrina on Thu Feb 15, 2007 at 12:15:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks again catrina! I thought putting the kids (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sigrid of Horg

          first was part of being a parent and just normal. my sons do see it now. at least all except the youngest there. I can live with him ignoring me but  not when I realize I would have taught him how to be a good productive man.
             I will of course let you know when the baby is born. You know it is pretty messed up whan you have to hope your son fails. but then what? He still has nothing. It is so confusing. I can't stop wishing he would have stuck with me as the others did so I could have developed him instead of living with her so he could do nothing. I never will get the ignorance. That is in her genes. None of my other sons got it I am happy to say.

          Repug credo: If you can't Dazzle them with Brilliance Baffle them with Bullshit! http://anaverageamericanpatriot.blogspot.com

          by jmsjoin on Thu Feb 15, 2007 at 12:46:05 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well, you never know what might happen (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jmsjoin, Sigrid of Horg

            in the future regarding your youngest son, jmsjoin. As for wishing for him to fail, I wouldn't see it that way should that happen.  

            For one thing, if he sees this as his only opportunity in life, he may be forced to reconsider that, should the military reject him.

            Many great people were rejected by the military. And from what you say this, for him, is not a good decision. So what may seem like failure could be an awakening and a new opportunity for him.

            I had a feeling your other sons appreciate you. How could they not and they sound like wonderful people.

            He was the youngest, right?  He may have needed his mother more than the others at the time. Even a mother who was not up to doing a good job. But now, he needs a father and I hope he realizes that someday too.

            The best you can do is to let him know you are there for him. I'm sure you've done that. And btw, it isn't wishing for failure. In different times where the military might have been good for him, maybe. But that is not the case now when the troops are merely being used more often than not.

            He could always try again, maybe for the NG, when this is all over and he's more mature and better prepared.

            I wish he had stuck with you too ~ but you are lucky that the others did. Not every father (or sons for that matter) is so lucky. But I do understand how you feel. It is a very sad situation for you, and for him.

            Speak your truth quietly, and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant, they too have their story - Max Ehrmann

            by Catrina on Thu Feb 15, 2007 at 02:39:51 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  you're good catrina, thank you! yes Tom is the (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Sigrid of Horg

              Repug credo: If you can't Dazzle them with Brilliance Baffle them with Bullshit! http://anaverageamericanpatriot.blogspot.com

              by jmsjoin on Thu Feb 15, 2007 at 03:20:32 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Sorry about that. Anyway Tom is the youngest. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Catrina, Sigrid of Horg

                He too was with me all day every day until he wanted to just waste his life away. Now all I can hope is that his brother that pals with me every day, and I will drive with to Florida in April will get through to him but I wouldn't count on it.
                   It is funny but these are my peers. Damn good men and from day one they were all my best freinds. I have to laugh when you hear all the time that you can't be their friend if you want to parent them.
                    you lead by example so they are one and the same to me. Thinking of leading by example. Look at Bush. No wonder we are in this mess. thanks again catrina, thoughtful words!

                Repug credo: If you can't Dazzle them with Brilliance Baffle them with Bullshit! http://anaverageamericanpatriot.blogspot.com

                by jmsjoin on Thu Feb 15, 2007 at 03:29:25 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I'm glad you're both going to see him (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  jmsjoin, Sigrid of Horg

                  I hope it helps him. And you are so right about Bush. Thank you for giving us a personal story about how all this affects ordinary people. I'll be saying a prayer for you and your sons.

                  Speak your truth quietly, and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant, they too have their story - Max Ehrmann

                  by Catrina on Thu Feb 15, 2007 at 08:17:00 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Thank you catrina you are so kind! I just wish (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Catrina, Sigrid of Horg

                    someone from either party really cared about the average American and our America. We are still praying for our shining light to see us through this dark tunnel into the future that Bush has created. To me there is only one person up to the job and that is Al Gore.
                       You are welcome for the personal story, you can see this mess Bush has created really hits home with me. Thanks again for the prayers. I will be in touch with you about my sons and the baby. I hope I remember your email but I can at least contact you through a comment. Take care!

                    Repug credo: If you can't Dazzle them with Brilliance Baffle them with Bullshit! http://anaverageamericanpatriot.blogspot.com

                    by jmsjoin on Fri Feb 16, 2007 at 05:14:18 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

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