Originally Posted by flint
One of the things as an outsider consuming a lot of American culture that I find strange is the hero worship that is bestowed on military service personnel. The mainstream 'trash' telly, like NCIS, Hawaii Five-0 etc paint those in uniform in almost god like terms. It's difficult to explain as a Brit, that I find it rather alarming.
I'm from a military family, I respect those guys and gals, sure. The level that it looks like though it's almost like a recruitment campaign. I look at the shows above and all I can think of is some poor kid in the Ozarks seeing that he'll get respect and love in a place and all he has to do is throw himself into the petro-chemical driven military meat grinder. And in reality, that just won't happen. He'll end up sitting in some hell hole surrounded by people who hate him, with no clear mission until he steps on a IED and is shipped back home and abandoned on disabilty to become one of the many vets wandering around downtown homeless with serious mental health issues.
The Atlantic is running a series called "The Tragedy of the American Military" which really touches on some of the real issues facing our Armed Forces.
My own take on it is that soldiers deserve respect if only because at one point in time they've written a check payable to either "US Gov't" or "freedom and democracy" (depending on your level of cynicism) in the amount of "my ass" that can be cashed at any time. Beyond that, the specific of military service vary wildly - some grunt who's done 3 tours in Iraq has had a difference experience than a squid who's been cruising around on an aircraft carrier for 4 yrs, who has had a different experience than the guy who spent 4 yrs in the motor pool in the middle of Kentucky.
(this is the first time I've tried to organize these thoughts, so I might ramble)
Another thing to remember is that for all the "THEY ARE EXCEPTIONAL PATRIOTS" sometimes it's an only way out for young people with slim options....hence the disproportionate number of poor and/or minority soldiers. Plus if you talk to any halfway sensible vet, it's a pretty good fucking gig (once you get over the fact that "get killed when ordered" is in your job description) - free (or at least subsidized) housing, medical care for life, retirement w/pension after 20 yrs, promotions/pay raises regularly and on merit, free university schooling, job training, etc etc. I read a book by some liberal weenie* who had a son, and realized that he wasn't "manly" - i.e. he didn't shoot guns or fix cars or camp or do any stereotypically manly stuff, so he decided to go experience it; his chapter on going to hang with the army was interesting in many way, the most important of which here is that all the soldiers he spoke to talked more about what a cool job the Army was, as far as driving big trucks/tanks, blowing shit up, and shooting guns, and not so much about "duty" or "service."
The problem really comes from the thought that our servicemen (and the armed services, in general) are EXCEPTIONAL and MAKE SACRIFICES so the rest of us can BE FREE to they are beyond reproach or criticism; remember the shitstorm when some other liberal weenie* DARED to suggest that maybe the lionization of soldiers makes it easier to send them into dangerous, shitty, no-win situations? "ZOMG WHAT IS HE SAYING ABOUT OUR SOLDIERS?!?! UNPATRIOTIC!"
Even more troubling are the rumblings coming from people who apparently want a STARSHIP TROOPERS-type society - you aren't a "real" citizen unless you've served. And even with our military at ridiculous levels of bloat, there isn't room (or even need) for everyone to serve.
Link to the article from the Atlantic (a very liberal-weenie* publication) - http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/12/the-tragedy-of-the-american-military/383516/
* - I agree with them, but he are still a liberal weenies
Edited by Chavez - 3/22/15 at 7:20am