April 12 2008

variation of gun-totin chaplain cover
Great newspaper article of the book, Gun Totin Chaplain and interview with author.

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Kelly Thomas

Comment in a letter to Airborne Press: Why are they joining? I think it's because they have nothing better in their lives. They're mostly from mid-America where there are no more jobs for them. No factories or mines and very few small farms anymore. And most schools don't inspire young people to go on to higher ed.
File picture shows US soldiers walking past a fire set to clear undergrowth during an operation outside Baquba. The number of Iraqis killed in March rose to 1,082, up 50 percent on the February figure amid a spike in bombings and clashes between Shiite militiamen and security forces, officials said Tuesday.

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Response: Think it's a little more complicated than your comments. First of all, the military has spent and are spending millions of dollars on Madison Avenue for advertising to entice these kids. It is true, that most come from socioeconomic categories that as much as we hate to say are lower middle class or lower in terms of opportunity. (Wow, we hate to admit that we have a class system in America--I do anyway).

Let's face it, we have developed a caste system in that our military officers are college educated, often from the Academies, paid for by the taxpayer, of course. Military officers come from middle class or upper middle class families, while the enlisted come from the lower socio-economic classes.

In many ways, the military is a good deal: good pay, perceived benefits, and often just the discipline that kids need. If you ask many parents So, why do they join? I think that some of it is the feeling of their invulnerability. They don't think in terms of war, but in terms of adventure. If I were a youngster who did not have stellar prospects and not knowing what I wanted to do, then the military would definitely be a possibility. All I could see would be, "I want to be an airborne ranger."

There are many other questions that have to be answered for the military. The biggest one is that the Volunteer Army has been so sold as successful, that it is hard for the American public who cares, to think in any other terms. We don't have the moral or political will to do what we ought-institute some sort of National Service. Until we have a crisis truly and another course has to be considered, we will continue on in what we're doing.

Maybe we need to get to the point of overwhelming crisis-repetitive tours that are intolerable and low enlistment so we cannot afford the Volunteer Army, etc. If this happened, we might see another course of action, i. e., the draft.

And, let's don't forget patriotism and tradition for some of these kids-although maybe a small number but they're there. These kids who are serving are good soldiers from what I see. I, for one, appreciate their sacrifice.

In the long run, most of the kids who have chosen the military are going to feel that there service to the country, even in a sorry war, was worth it. They did something that many of their peers did not.KT

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