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Should my kid join the army

Dad's daughter thinks about a life in the military

for The Brooklyn Paper
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My 17-year-old daughter declared that the army is in her future, and now I am questioning how she reached that conclusion — and if I’m unpatriotic because my gut reaction to this pronouncement was “No, no, no!”

That’s because when I think of the army, I think of service, training, deployment — and a couple of things called guns and missiles. And that scares me. Apparently it doesn’t scare her.

So how did a liberal, pro-choice, Jewish feminist chooses to enlist.

It’s not like my family has a long military tradition, but my father did proudly serve in the Navy during World War II (it’s even possible he was so eager to enlist that he might have signed up a little before his 18th birthday. One of his great disappointments was the failure of the Navy to send him overseas).

I’m sure I’ve told her about those Thanksgivings when I was little when two young sailors would appear at our door in their dress blues, with white caps in hand, sent to us by the U.S.O. from Great Lakes Naval Training Center. Different recruits arrived each year, always polite and from some faraway state, a little homesick, missing the holiday with their families. This was symbolic of my father’s sense of connection and duty to the Navy.

But I want still to blame all the action movies she’s watched featuring smart, attractive Americans who always triumph over the terrorists and drug lords. But I also wonder if there are ways I may be at fault for this thought getting into her head. It’s not like I wear a flag pin all the time, but am one of those guys who takes his hat off and sings along with the National Anthem and I remember saying the pledge of allegiance, hand over heart, looking at the flag, every day at school. I talk with my kids about the Constitution and things that make our country great.

Even though I dread the possibility of losing my first born to a roadside bomb in the Middle East or a helicopter accident on some training grounds, I haven’t tried to talk her out of military service. Instead, I talked to her about the pros and cons of the other armed forces and what it would take for her to go to West Point.

Of course once my little girl turns 18, there’s nothing I could do if she wanders into the Armed Forces Recruiting Center and signs her name.

She wants to do something important and I’ve come to understand she has a strong sense of patriotism and a desire to serve her country, and maybe that is my, um, fault.

But I know for a fact that if a day comes when I see her in uniform, polished shoes, and pressed lapels, I will still feel scared — but I’ll be very, very proud.

Read The Dad every other Thursday on BrooklynPaper.com.

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Reader Feedback

steve from downtown says:
Better the military than college away from home. Good luck.
July 19, 2012, 9:37 am
Dick Cheney from Wyoming. says:
On the plus side, it's hard to find any stats on women's combat deaths, because it is still the case that women are barred from front line combat. So her odds of serious injury are probably not much moreso than any heavy physical labor.

On the minus side, her odds of being sexually assaulted by a fellow soldier are 1 in 5, and 1 in 10 for actual full on rape. Quite likely these numbers are higher, for it is often her CO who is doing the raping and who do you report it to?

But don't worry. Rape builds character, or so I am told.
July 19, 2012, 10:52 am
Pat I. says:
Scott-

You're the kind of liberal I wouldn't mind having as a friend.

I heard West point grads will almost always wind up in combat. if I'm wrong here, please let me know.

Another choice might be The US Naval Academy...or the Airforce Academy. Both are free and offer educations that are second to none.

Best of luck to you.
July 19, 2012, 12:47 pm
manhatposeur from manhatland says:
typicaly I am about whymisical musings but as a former marine, I can only wish your kid the best and that she gets to see the world.
You realize how the world is so interconnected, life can be very fragile-especially with the military, but that doesnt triumph over how amazing, rich, and wonderous the people and the Earth is. Just may strengthen her liberal upbringing and she may gain a stronger resolve.
Besides most of those so called conservative pundits are mystified and frigthened beyond United States- they even think english speaking Canada is too alien for them.
July 19, 2012, 3:14 pm
Charles from Bklyn says:
As a Jewish person, if I hear one more Jewish person sound off the wimp liberal routine I am going to puke. Knock it off and be a man. Your daughter has obviously found strength in life and is ready, like so many Jewish people of today and yesterday, to fight for life, freedom and democracy. My God ... don't celebrate your weakness like it's a guiding light of reason. This type of thinking has hurt our people far too much before.
July 20, 2012, 3:52 pm
Rufus Leaking from Bay R says:
She's safer in the military than in Chicago.

There were no combat deaths in Afganistan last week, but there were 15 shootings in Chicago.

At least in Afganistan, you can shoot back!
July 22, 2012, 11:24 am

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