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?