I was still rubbing the sleep out of my eyes this morning when I caught the headline on the hard-copy Lowell Sun sitting outside my neighbor's door -- an article about the recent surge in military recruiting. Here's a link: http://www.lowellsun.com/todaysheadlines/ci_11161698
Well, my first order of business was to eat crow, becuase I've said before (both in speech and in this blog) that the media won't touch military recruiting stories now that the news is, well, good. In fact, I ran into SFC Hilton (the guy quoted in the piece) on Merrimack Street two weeks ago and we talked at length about that very subject; it was directly from him that I learned that all four services were above-goal for the fiscal year passed, and were already well ahead of track in the new one.
What's nice about the article is that it lays out the fact that there are many reasons young people decide to serve that go way beyond the standard these-people-must-have-no-options liberal shibboleths. In fact, the article included the statistic that only 2 in 10 people out of the general population are even eligible to serve in the military (I'll bet you didn't know that!)
Unrelated to the article, but worth mentioning here, is something about the GI Bill that anti-military protestors often bring up -- a large percentage of people who contribute to the Bill (by paying in $1200, or $100 from each of their first 12 paychecks), never collect the money, which can be more than $30,000 in educational benefits.
There are many reasons for this, and it's not because the Pentagon is conspiring to cheat people out of the money. A huge part of it is that you can only collect the benefits once you've left active duty -- many 18 year-olds come in, sign up and do the buy-in, but then earn their Bachelor's Degrees while on active duty. Others leave active duty but never go back to school. Another big factor to remember is that many who sign up upon entering are junior officers who already may have a Bachelor's and even a Master's, but decide to buy in "just in case," and never wind up going back to school full-time.
The point is that there many reasons that people never collect the GI Bill. Those reasons involve personal choice and ample active duty educational benefits -- hardly the picture painted by conspiratorial anti-military types who would have you think otherwise.