Proud to serve: We're soldiers, not victims
Sometimes, people who aren't members of our tribe seem not to know what to think of us. Give America's soldiers your support, not your pity.
Imagine the following scenarios:
1. You're a sergeant riding shotgun with an Army convoy in Iraq. An improvised explosive device – IED – explodes next to your vehicle and showers you with sand, rocks, and flames. Seriously burned, you pull yourself from the damaged gun truck and wonder what will happen next.
2. You're a crew member of a C-5 Galaxy lifting off from Baghdad International. You hear a loud bang and see warning lights: GENERATOR OUT, LOW PRESSURE ... FIRE. A surface-to-air missile has destroyed one of your engines.
3. You're a young airman billeted at Khobar Towers, Saudi Arabia. As you take a shower, you hear a security policeman running down the hall shouting, "Get out! Get out!" That's because he's spotted a truck bomb. A tremendous blast tears open the building and kills 19 of your comrades. Survivors help carry the dead to a makeshift morgue in the chow hall.
America's warrior class
Most Americans will never face situations like this. Less than 1 percent of the US population has served in Iraq or Afghanistan. The all-volunteer military has given us a motivated, highly professional fighting force. But it has also created a warrior class distinct from the rest of society.
Perhaps it has to be this way. According to the group Mission: Readiness, which is made up of retired senior military leaders, 75 percent of Americans ages 17 to 24 are unfit for service. Most are physically unfit, and others have criminal records or inadequate education.