Do As I Say Not As I Do....  

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Well I'm a little conflicted. After I graduated High School, I worked for about a year and decided that if I wasn't going to college I better figure out what I was gonna do.

Enter the Marine Corps. A friend of mine had joined right out of school, and he asked me if I would mind talking to the recruiter. I figured what do I have to lose, so I had them come on over and the recruiter gave me his pitch. It sounded pretty good. I was being told about the reserves and according to the recruiter I would get my schooling paid for, and I could get a loan for a house, and all sorts of other cool stuff after I did my time. Needless to say my parents were pretty against the whole idea. They were aware that we had not had a war in some time, and we were overdue for some sort of conflict. I figured I knew better and at least it was a direction so I signed up for a 6x2 contract (6 years of active some of it reserve and 2 years of inactive reserve).

Boot Camp was 13 weeks long. This was in 1986 and they were just getting away from the whole physical approach to boot camp. In other words, Drill Instructors weren't supposed to hit recruits, but it still happened. I was not even remotely ready for boot camp. They screamed and hollered at us from the time we got off the bus. If I got 4 hours of sleep in any given night it was a blessing. I went to boot camp at 5'10" and 181 lbs. I left boot camp at 5'11" 161 lbs. I was lean, mean and ready to kill anything I was told to kill. They seriously brainwash you while you are in boot camp. Don't get me wrong, it is absolutely necessary. You have to be broken down to be built back up. I went in a confused unruly teen, and came out a lean single minded, focused Marine. I learned skills in a number of different fields (not all of them were related to killing). Close order drills, a great deal of military history, communications. The most important thing I learned in the USMC was how to work as a team. I learned what it means to be a part of something bigger than myself. To be counted on and to count on someone else for my very life.

My reserve time ended up being less than I had expected. I was sent to school immediately after boot camp. My school was a bit on the technical side. I was involved in a form of High Frequency communications. The school was in the middle of the desert and it lasted a total of 13 months. I went from 29 palms to Yuma, AZ. Desert to Desert so it was no big deal acclimating. I spent a short time there and then was sent to North Carolina. Now that was some culture shock. From dry and extremely hot, to humid and moderately hot. By the way I will take the desert and scorpions over that jungle heat and ticks. I left Cherry Point after a fairly brief stay (about 6 months) and ended up in my reserve base in Fresno. I was thinking to myself "OK let the reserve time begin". Unfortunately it was the beginning of Desert Shield, and our unit was activated. So I go shipped right back to Yuma AZ, and then guess where? Yep Cherry Point. It turned out that we were just cycling around the bases and covering for those troops that were already in country.

Six years went by fairly fast and I got out of the military. My parents were happy that I was not shot or stabbed or blown up (although my little brother was hoping I would have a battle scar). I am to this day sure of the fact that this was the reason I grew up. The military gave me direction when I had none.

Fast Forward to now. My 17 year old son has told me that he wishes to speak with the Marine recruiter about possibly joining the military. Now it's my turn to be on the parent end of things. i find that I much prefer when the decision is in my hands. I am scared to death that my child would consider joining the military. I dread the idea of him being shipped off to some foreign land and possibly being injured or killed in the name of freedom.

I say this, and at the same time I am so proud of my son for considering it, that I am almost brought to tears. This is the first time that he has come to me about something that could profoundly impact his life. He has thought about this more than I imagined. He has even given me some of his reasons why he has considered this path. I still have more talking to do with him and the recruiter before he will get my blessing.

As much as I want to tell him that this is the worst thing he can do. I don't want to lie to him. This very well might be the best thing for him, and I feel like I do him a great disservice by misleading him that way. My Mother and Father (and Sister) tell me I should try my best to talk him out of it. I just don't know that I will. I'm going to hear him out and I am going to give him the honest truth about my experience in the USMC.

Being a parent is one of the greatest things to ever happen to me, but I have to say I wish that this was one of those times I didn't have to make the grown up decision...

This entry was posted at Thursday, October 22, 2009 and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

6 comments

I am shaking my head, wondering what advice I would give my son. If the service had not ended up being such a positive experience for you, then the decision wouldn't be that difficult. But, as you say, it did help you develop into who you are.

I would certainly be proud of him, and am in awe of his courage.

I know one "boy" who went into the marines and it totally transformed him. That was about nine years ago. He is now one of the most successful men in his field and has an exciting job with National Geographic, doing what he loves.

He gives full credit to the Marines, but admits that it was extremely difficult and often dangerous.

I know I'm not telling you something you don't know. Keep us posted on this, if you will.

October 23, 2009 at 6:18 AM

I can only guess the internal conflict you're going through.

I am only slightly older than your son. I know that when I was and still am confronted to a big dilemma, it takes this huge weight off my shoulders to discuss it with someone. You are right to talk with him about this, because he certainly needs to talk it over with you.

He needs to talk to someone about it..a lot. Each time I decided to talk to my parents about a decision was because I didn't know what to do and I needed their help to sort things out in my head.

I think he knows what good and bad can come out of joining the marine. But what I can say is this: I wouldn't have told my parents about it if I was sure about my decision. My guess is still needs help deciding whether he's joining or not.

And what you're doing now, hear out his point of view, uncertainties is great. Ask him about what he doesn't know, what he fears.

Like I said, I am not your son, so I don't know how he is, but each time I talk to my parents about something serious, it's because I need their honest input, and especially their help.

Good luck and do keep us posted.

October 23, 2009 at 8:17 AM

Thanks, you guys have given me some good advice to think on. I will definitely keep you posted on this one...

October 23, 2009 at 9:33 AM

Wow, what a difficult position to be in. He's going to do what he's going to do, but it sounds like you're going about things the right way and looking at all angles. Good luck with your conversation!

October 23, 2009 at 8:39 PM

well he and I talked a good deal about the military. I gave him my honest opinion about the Marines and told him what the good and bad I got out of it was. He said that he doesn't really think the military is for him right now. I told him I'll support whatever decision he makes, but I gotta say that a flood of relief washed over me when he said that :)

October 24, 2009 at 12:31 PM

Glad to hear it!!:)

October 25, 2009 at 10:56 AM

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