Monday, October 09, 2006

Before You Enlist

This is a 15 minute video that you should watch if you or someone close to you is considering enlisting. Don't believe everything you hear in those recruiting pitches.

Click the arrow in the center of the screen to watch the video.


Anonymous said...

Pretty sweet how a pack of Princeton snots can find a half dozen disgruntled losers and make a video. For every 1 of these examples there are at least 20 more that got the education they wanted, became apprentices and masters in the skills they received, and found a better life than what they had. Some even stay and make a 20+ year career of it.

I enlisted, finished my bachelor's degree for free (with military Tuition Assistance) after work hours, used my skills and my GI Bill to get an Airframe & Powerplant license and stayed in the reserves. Next year I'll finish my MBA that I started with what was left from the GI Bill.

The rush I got from doing my job was much better than anything I would have experienced as a UAW worker back at Deere. Best part of all, I was accepted as a part of the team, despite the dark color of my skin. And I stayed in the reserves so I could still be a part of that team.

Recruits should talk to people from their hometown that joined and served a full first term enlistment. Don't base a decision on what quota a recruiter wants to fill and certainly don't base it on a video written by privileged Ivy Leaguers playing with their MecBook Pro.

Dave Barrett said...

Thanks for your input. I agree that young people considering enlistment should listen to as many different sources of information as possible before making their decision. I am sure that is the reason the video was made and that is why I am encouraging people to view it.
Why the nasty tone toward the video in your first paragraph? The people who made the video think that the information recruiters provide is imcomplete and unbalanced. What can be wrong with giving young people as much information from as many different sources and viewpoints as possible?

Anonymous said...

Dave, I watched this last night and I had the same emotional reaction as anon 11:57 with one exception.

I saw the guy that said he didn't have any skills beyond that of a janitor, and I actually laughed. I was reminded of the 19 year old guy that complained so much about his knees that we had him sweeping the floors from a rolling chair. He said all those long hours on the flight deck hurt his knees. He was bucking for a medical disability. Then we found him running around playing football with his buddies outside his apartment. He's probably singing the same song to his buds back in Appalachia.

My issue with the video is that it is so one-sided that it ignores that a reality may exist. It attempts to be a documentary. It's just not credible.

I'd be the first to say to watch what recruiters say. I would have found myself working in the engine room of a submarine and been just a nuke program quota for a recruiter if I listened to what they were selling me. If that's what I wanted, I would have taken it.

Instead, I did exactly what I wanted to do in the Navy and took advantage of all the benefits and training I could get, most of it totally free. Like me and anon 11:57, there many many more stories like ours.

I've had friends get Wharton and Stanford MBAs to become VPs of Fortune 500 companies, friends pay for Boeing 737 type ratings to become airline captains, friends roll into high level civil service careers, friends become astronauts and fly shuttle missions, and I've seen others take their skills start $1M+ companies.

And that's not to include the folks from my service that became President, Cabinet Members, Ambassadors, Members of Congress, Governors, Secretaries of the Navy, Secretary of the Air Force, Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Vice Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Chiefs of Naval Operations, Commandants of the Marine Corps, Nobel Prize Awardees, and Rhodes Scholars.

They all learned a little more than how to be a janitor.

Saul said...

Regarding anonymous and Huck's comments, the point of the video is not to disparage anyone's military service or to say that it's automatically a dead end for everybody. It does say that the talk of training and social mobility that recruiters promise is statistically not all that beneficial to the majority. Though there are plenty of exceptions, some of them very successful and rightfully grateful for the things they worked for and achieved, most people leave the military in the same social class that they joined it in. Most of those veterans who became presidents, ambassdors, etc. already came from privileged backgrounds to begin with (again, there are some exceptions). Not only that, but due to various reasons, among them PTSD, physical injury, and other forms of illness, Vietnam era vets on average earn less than non-vets from the same economic background. 200,000 homeless vets? Are they all just a bunch of losers? This article from the Christian Science Monitor from last year talks about the difficult situations that some Iraq veterans are facing since they've come home. These people are not losers. A lot of vets have a very tough time, and they deserve our support.

It could be that the statistics are different for vets who have served in extended combat tours against enemies fighting a guerilla war and those who served in peacetime. It could be that if you served primarily in peacetime your chances of having a positive experience are much greater. I don't know about Huck's or anonymous's experiences, and I absolutely mean no disrespect, but this is a legitimate question worth looking at statistically. It's even possible that talking to vets who served in peacetime (or mostly peacetime) might even give some wrong impressions to young people who are about to go serve in this war.

What is absolutely the central point of this video is that it is trying to get young people not to sign up to go fight in the war in Iraq. A lot of young people are ending up dead, wounded, and traumatized for no good reason. Though the administration thought that the war would be over in a few weeks, it has turned out to be a disaster. The army has to struggle to find enough troops to maintain such a large fighting force there, and on top of that, since the war started recruitment numbers have gone down. The army has tried to partially solve the problem by breaking its contracts with tens of thousands of soldiers and forcing them to stay beyond what they signed up for. And to try to reverse the recruitment decline, the army has now started a huge advertising campaign to try to get more young people to sign up. Flashy ads, video games, etc etc.

But all the ads and promises are not going to change the fact that we're an occupying army in someone else's country, the situation there is worse now than when we got there, and it gets worse the longer we stay. They don't want us there, and they're not going to stop fighting us. All of the intelligence agencies agree that staying there has made the terrorism situation worse. We shouldn't have been there in the first place. There's no need to put any more young Americans in that situation.

As far as anonymous's comment that the video was made by a bunch of Princeton snots, please take a look at the credits before you make such an accusation. The main production team is from a professional company that has been around for 18 years. The American Friends Service Committee is an anti-war Quaker group that has been around for many decades. The other groups who participated or supported this project, as listed on the website, are: Veterans For Peace (VFP), Iraq Veterans Against the War, Gold Star Families for Peace, Military Families Speak Out, the Coalition for Peace Action and other groups. Not a bunch of snot-nosed Ivy League brats.

You can read about them and their positions here and here.