The Volunteer Army: Who Fights and Why

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A good read if you have the time and want a better appreciation of where a good number of our enlisted come from. The only thing I would add is that even though the recruits described have unimpressive backgrounds, they tend to perform magnificantly once they hit the fleet. For those of us that come from priveledged/educated backgrounds, it's a real eye opener to see how many smart, competent kids there are out there. Being an officer seems to get a bad rep on this forum, but it's an honor to get to lead these guys.
I see exactly the same phenomenon among doctors as among the enlisted. Everyone is at least a little patriotic, but most of us were looking for something unique, a little adventure, and a way to pay for medical school.
What also struck me about this article was the fact that so many people have so many different reasons for joining. All those stupid surveys the military has you do...and they really don't capture the diversity of the recruits or all of their many motivations.

I initially joined because it sounded like it would be interesting, provide for some unique opportunities, I enjoyed being part of the ROTC program, and because I really didn't know what I wanted to do after college so it seemed like a few years as an Officer would give me some good experiences to build on for the future.

I think all of those objectives (including figuring out what profession I wanted to be part of) were met for me over the last few years and I met some great people along the line.

As I recently fulfilled my initial term of service and separated to attend medical school...I have really contemplated the reasons I would sign up a second time, as the first time had nothing to do with the money (I had a 2/3 tuition waiver and some other scholarships in college, so I didn't need the military to pay for it, I just had fun doing it).

I have had the adventure, seen the sights, and served my country. Been there done that, so this time around I feel more motivated by the money (also have a family now to take care of), but I still would enjoy being part of the military family, giving back to the Soldiers, and traveling a little more (even if it isn’t always on my own terms). I guess it makes me nervous this time, because money plays a bigger role in my decision...such is life I suppose.

I am/was as patriotic as the next guy...but I don’t think military service is the only indicator of patriotism. I was much more dedicated to the Soldiers in my platoon and company than anything else.