Saturday, August 20, 2005


They Volunteer, I Say

Whose Children Will Go to War? (5 Letters) - New York Times: "But I dispute Bob Herbert's statement: 'College kids in the U.S. are playing video games and looking forward to frat parties while their less fortunate peers' are in Iraq.
Nearly 54 percent of all enlisted members of the Marine Corps Reserve today are college students or college graduates. During my service in Iraq in 2003, I met many senior enlisted Marine reservists in combat units who held master's degrees and left good jobs to go and fight.
Mr. Herbert does a disservice to our armed forces by lending furtherance to the idea that people serving in Iraq are the 'less fortunate.' The vast majority of Americans I have met in the military serve out of a sense of obligation as citizens to protect America, its allies and those around the world who cannot protect themselves.
Paul V. Kane
Cambridge, Mass., Aug. 18, 2005
The writer is a Marine veteran of the Iraq war and a fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University."

This is a very important point. The left's argument has always been that armed service recruiters focus on poorer communities thus making the service filled with poor kids who, in the minds of the critics, are duped into service. First of all, they go to the communities where they have the best chance to recruit people. In wealthier communities, kids are more likely to go to college than the service. Second, our military is volunteer! These people choose to enlist. Another point that is somehow missing from that argument is that the reservists we talk so much about are often older and educated. Also missing in the argument is that the service trains these people as well as educates them, GI Bill, etc. These people are not duped. They choose the military out of a sense of duty, because their family has traditionally served or because it is their only opportunity for an education. I have known several intellectually incomparable Marines in my day. They chose service for their own reasons, gained skills, and had a more disciplined life as a result of their service. Yes, the wars we have endured as of late have brought us losses that are immeasurable. What most of those families will tell you however is that their son or daughter loved what they did and wanted to be doing it. The vast majority of these brave men and women want to serve this country. Would we really want to force those who don't to stand shoulder to shoulder with those that truly do want to serve? The former military leaders I have heard speak on the matter suggest that to encourage anything but an all-volunteer service is to endanger all around them. I trust them more than a writer at the New York Times.

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