reply to post by Juston
While a great deal of what you have said is correct, I think a few very real problems were downplayed in your initial post
I graduated from the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego in December of 2003, and because the school of infantry was not picking up classes at
Christmas time I was assigned to assist my recruiter for a couple weeks after my boot leave.
During that time we lost a couple of poolees (individuals who had signed enlistment papers but not yet begun their term of active service) who said
they were needed at home for financial reasons.
In fairness to the staff sergeant, he didn't try to bully, shame, or scare the poolees out of their decision.
(Some will. I've heard recruits threatened with a dishonorable discharge, which counts as a felony, but in reality only a general court martial can
dishonorably discharge you, and only for certain offenses. Virtually everyone who is punatively discharged before basic training receives either a
general discharge under honorable conditions or an OTH (General Discharge Under Other Than Honorable Conditions, which has very little weight outside
of the military, as long as its not for drugs- drug pops get a different reenlistment code and some employers apparently will turn you away for that,
although I've never seen or even heard of it actually happening). Some will even tell you that you'll end up serving the rest of your contract in
the brig and get fined 10,000 dollars. These threats are particularly common before your last "moment of truth" in basic, and in the rare event that
a recruit refuses to train.
But my recruiter tried to reassure them that the insultingly low pay that congress offers our warriors for doing some of the most difficult jobs in
the world (roughly the equivalent of working 40 hour weeks for the federal minimum wage) would meet all of their family's needs, and he let us tell
them how being away from their family wouldn't be so bad, but when that didn't work, he cut them loose.
But then he turned to me and my buddy who had just come back from boot (after the poolees he was talking to left) and said "you know I've got to lie
to these MFers to get them to enlist, and I don't even want them here."
My point is not that recruiters or anyone else in the military is evil. My point is that they have a mission to accomplish, and that mission has
nothing to do with keeping you out or letting you out of the military. That goes for your recruiter, your drill instructor, your doctor, and even your
chaplain. Within the bounds of reason, their mission will trump your well being every time. In some regrettable cases, their mission will trump your
well being well beyond the bounds of reason as well.
For instance, your goofy half-educated navy doctor may refuse to do an MRI that might put you out of the Marine Corps, even though you experience
strong and persistent lower back pain just from carrying a pair of canteens on your belt. So you'll have to choose between refusing to train or
attempting a 20 kilometer hump with a bad back. Word to the wise though-when you come hobbling back into Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton, don't cuss or
say I told you so, because you still won't get your MRI and you'll come dang close to being NJPed (NJP=Non Judicial Punishment) for disrespect.
(yeah I'm a little bitter about that one, sorry to carry a grudge).
There is also a serious deficiency in standards, both in terms of physical performance and intelligence.
Servicemen are far above average physically by American standards, but that's not saying much, since
the average American eats 3700 calories a day, over a third of it
in the form of fat
, andmore than half of us don't perform the CDC's
recomended level of leisure time physical activity, and almost 1 in 4 of us report ZERO liesure time physical activity when questioned.
even get into the 4+ hours a day we spend watching TV.
To join the Marine Corps, you are supposed to be able to do 2 pullups without getting off the bar, 35 situps in 2 minutes, and run 1.5 miles in 13:30.
That would earn you a low B from my 9th grade phys ed teacher (who would hold your ankle to stop you from kipping on your pullups and would not allow
a reverse grip on the bar- the DIs let both of those things slide).
And the fact is, a lot of guys can't actually do that when they arrive at basic. I don't know if their recruiters lied about their Initial Strength
Test results or if they just got sloppy between MEPS and Basic, but after my platoon took the IST in boot we sent 8 guys to porkchop platoon- that was
almost 10% of the platoon.
That's part of why you work so hard in boot of course, but we never dropped anyone from our platoon for falling out of a march (unless they had to be
sent to medical recovery platoon. When we went up the Grim Reaper (one of the last serious physical challenges in boot) a couple of us actually had to
go back down to drag the stragglers up. So when I got to the school of infantry I saw 03s (infantrymen) falling out of 10k humps- and we weren't even
I always wondered exactly when the Marine Corps gets around to either changing or getting rid of those guys, because I never saw it happen. They all
went out into the fleet to do their thing, still not able walk up a god dang hill under training conditions, and I have a pretty good idea of what
would happen if they actually had to take a hill from the enemy.
We also had a chronic bed wetter in our platoon. Instead of dropping him for his medical condition they ordered us to wake him up every hour on the
hour and walk him to the head. I hope they did the same for him in the fleet or that kid's gonna have a case of trench foot somewhere other than his
foot, if ya know what I mean.
Then there's the intellect thing.
I kid you not, while I was billeted as prac recruit (responsible for tutoring other recruits on basic military knowledge) I had to spend 15 minutes
teaching one recruit how to pronounce the word Colonel. Thank god we didn't have any asian recruits because I had to make him speak in "engrish"
for a few minutes to help him get it- the idea that not all words could be sounded out went right over his head.
One of the guys seemed like he might have some kind of palsy. His speech was slurred and his arms just kind of hung limp and jangled around when he
marched. I tried to teach him the general orders for sentries by having him repeat after me, but he wasn't able to hear and then repeat more than 3
or 4 words at a time. Finally the DIs got to the point where everywhere we went they just made him stand in the corner and face the wall, but he
couldn't even do that right- he'd start to wander around in small circles, and when the DIs yelled at him he'd look at the corner and then at them
like a confused dog until somebody physically turned his body back towards the wall for him. Our DIs tried very hard to get him dropped, but it took
several weeks. They finally got him on the road to a psych discharge right before weapons issue.
I see where you're coming from, because there are a lot of people who think that the US military has shortcomings it can't correct, and that it
orders you and other recruiters to work around this problem by lowering standards and lying, and that viewpoint isn't entirely accurate or fair.
It is however true that the US military faces some challenges, many of which originate outside of the military, in our society itself. In order to
overcome such challenges, the military needs more support and cooperation from our society (and vice versa perhaps). If we can agree on this, then it
seems that it is in the best interest of the military not to allieviate concerns, but rather to draw attention to them.
You can correctly say that the military still maintains physical standards which are well above average for Americans. But then it sounds like nothing
needs to change.
Or you can correctly say that the average high school graduate is physically unfit for military service, and that while this may not be compromising
our security in any immediate way, it does reduce the pool from which recruiters can draw, which mathematically necessitates a higher success rate for
recruiters and therefore more spending on recruitment and retention.
So I would encourage you to consider not just saying, "things are a lot better than people think" but saying that along with something like,
"things could be a lot better though too, and if we make them better we'll be safer and save money".
[edit on Fri 19 Jun 2009 by The Vagabond]