Military can reach outYou’re a high-school senior. You’d like to go to college, but you’re nervous about the prospect of taking on tens of thousands of dollars in student-loan debt.
By: Grand Forks Herald, The Jamestown Sun
You’re a high-school senior. You’d like to go to college, but you’re nervous about the prospect of taking on tens of thousands of dollars in student-loan debt.
What if you were to learn that there are full scholarships available, and that in addition to paying for tuition, these scholarships also offer generous housing stipends and money for books?
What if you also were to learn that in the course of gaining this scholarship, you’d be trained in a skill at government expense, make friends whom you’ll think of as siblings and gain a respected credential that opens the door to lifelong benefits?
Of course, that’s exactly what’s available to a young person in 2013 who enlists in the U.S. armed forces. And at a time when analysts are wringing their hands about the growth in America of a “warrior class,” more teens should be made aware of it.
“This month marks 40 years since the United States ended the military draft,” a McClatchy Newspapers story reported on Monday’s front page.
But across those decades, military service has become something that’s both increasingly rare and very often handed down from parent to child.
So, “a recent Gallup poll showed that despite the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a much smaller percentage of those who’ve reached the military age since Sept. 11, 2001, have served than in previous decades,” the story reported.
Meanwhile, “a Department of Defense 2011 Status of Forces survey indicated that 57 percent of active troops today are the children of current or former active or reserve members of the armed forces.”
Let’s be clear: Military service isn’t for everyone. Yes, the benefits are real, exactly as described above. But they’re available only to those who join — and that’s a serious, adult decision, one that carries a risk of combat injury or death.
So, enlisting is not a decision to made lightly. It’s not even a decision that should be made solely to get the benefits. Prospective recruits must enlist with their eyes open and a devout willingness to serve.
But it’s also a decision that, for millions of Americans, evolves into a source of friendship, advancement, government-financed college and a lifetime of honest pride.
And at a time when countless thousands are fretting about tuition costs and the drawbacks of student loans, those realities should be better known.
There are five armed services: the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marines, plus their National Guard and reserve components. They need a steady stream of qualified recruits. Society, in turn, benefits when those recruits come from all walks of life.
And right now in all of those walks of life, young people — some from military families, many who are not — need not only the military’s money for college but also the discipline, maturity and love of country that service has to offer.
Sounds like a solid match. And it’s one that parents, high-school guidance counselors and even President Barack Obama himself should encourage more young people to explore.