If a teen, possibly family, asked you about joining the (US) military what would you recommend? Maybe you have had this happen recently?
Can you put your recommendation on a scale of 1 to 10?
1 being lets run to another country, smoke pot, and burn flags. 10 being citizenship should only be granted through service.
How much of your advice would be based on what you have done vs what you have heard? Do you have someone else that you would take them to talk to? What would you suggest that they do to prepare for joining the military? What would you suggest that they do in the military?
We have had a few young men ask specific versions of this here but this is my "big umbrella" version of the military question.
I am proud to be an American, I may not be proud of everything we've done over the years but I am proud to have served to defend my country, to stand ready to kill anyone that would attempt to take away our freedoms, to stand in defense of my children and yours, to defend your rights. I served 14 years active duty and 10 more as a Reservist and one of the most annoying things I have ever heard were fairly much what you have said here.
Freedom is not free nor should it be, "The Tree of Freedom must be watered with the blood of Patriots" (Thomas Jefferson). If you are not willing to shed blood in defense of your country in any foreign land, if you are not willing to defend the basic human rights of the downtrodden and those who cannot do so for themselves, if you are not willing to come to the aid of your allies, then what does that say about you? If your friend were to be in a fight would you jump in should that fight turn unfair? What if you saw someone attacking another from behind or raping a young girl, what would you do? Would you say "It's not my affair" and just walk away?
I'm sorry, I will rarely reply to these types of threads, but you, mr. Hockley, definitely wrote one of the most idiotic replies ever.
"Now we are sending our men and women to die for the sake of other nations", you state. Seriously? Here's a newsflash for you:
The USA is a member state of NATO, one of the largest military alliances in the history of mankind. All member nations agreed to assist and defend each other, which is mainly covered under Article 5.
In a nutshell: if you attack one NATO member nation, you attack them all and all are obligated to assist.
The first time Article 5 was ever called upon? After the cowardly 9/11 attacks in the USA.
So it's the British, Germans, Belgians, French, Dutch, etc... who are fighting, bleeding and dying in Afghanistan for the sake of your country! And all of us are proud to do so. Because that's what those men and women do when they give their word and ally themselves. Defend and assist each other. An honourable concept which is clearly lost on you.
It is also clear you have no clue what you are talking about, and you should really respect your military - and those of other allied nations - a hell of a lot more.
You also severely lack any long-term vision and understanding. Let's assume the USA severely diminishes its armed forces and capability. You can never rule out that any other entity or nation will attempt serious attacks or to invade in 50-100 years (or longer) as a result. In case a huge scale war happens again, all member nations - including yours - need capable and experienced military men and women to counter the threat. Having them start their training after the facts, will result in your defeat. And it will exactly be people like you who will be the first to run and leave the others behind, all the while crying that no one is there to protect you. So don't get too comfortable in the relative peace you have been able to enjoy for decades, and surely don't take it for granted. Because that is what you're doing. And you should be ashamed for it.
We are trying to defend america too, it is that very attitude that lead to WW2, as George's dad george once said " we will not have another munich" referring to the conference with hitler that had "secured peace in our time". Also the military is used as a way to ensure we can meet our responsibilities and promises overseas. We promised Japan that we would defend them in exchange for their disarmnement. We promised South korea we would be there to defend them against the north koreans, we promised France and germany we would help defend them against communism. Today we are promised to many people. I don't think that we do the bidding of other countries though.
I would advise them NOT to join up. The US military hasn't fought an actual declared war since WWII. I see no point in offering ones self up to be slaughtered in some foreign land.
I'll just leave this here:
After going to college, but not going into the military, I regret not joining up.
If I was in high-school again with the current perspective, I would have joined the air force or the navy and would have asked to train in diesel engines and electronics (in the navy you can learn to become a nuke operator, which pays major $$$$ in civilian life). I would have kept doing this while taking classes on the side (paid by the military) to get my bachelors/associates. After about 4 - 6 years, I would have surveyed my options and decided whether to stay or leave.
Give today's college prices, it's almost insane to bother paying for college and going into debt. If you want a Bachelors, then it's much cheaper to get the armed forces to pay for it (and you receive your check every 2 weeks, pension and comprehensive health-care).
So while my friends would have been trying to stay afloat in the red-ink, I would have been far better off financially.
You'll also get deployed and have an opportunity to go somewhere interesting. You'll most likely end up living in a different country if you get deployed for at least some time and you won't be a tourist.
Then there is the concern of you being killed in combat or some other engagement. True, this can happen, but from my personal life I was almost flattened by cars at an intersection at least twice (and these are the ones that I do remember). You're not immortal in civilian life...
P.S.: Oh and if you ARE interested in a college degree, go for something that will actually end up paying you (STEM, for example).
I did it, somewhat, the way you're describing and others have tried. It's hard to take classes while in the military. Often you can get the lower level English, Math, or other such courses but to take your degree classes you really need to be where the college is. It is especially hard in the Navy when you're underway for 9 months or so and you have watches on top of your normal everyday duties. So my recommendation would be to get your degree out of the way (think ROTC) and then join.