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OT: Son and the Army. I just don't understand.

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  • OT: Son and the Army. I just don't understand.

    I feel sort of strange posting this one but since some of you guys have military experience and also have kids in the military I thought you may be able to help me out by explaining this to me.

    My 18 year old son wants to quit college after only 1 semester and join the Army. The Navy and Air Force are not up for consideration. He wants to join the Army soon.

    IMHO, his timing is horrible. I want him to consider the Navy and Air Force. He's been talking about joining the Army since before high school graduation in May.

    I've also told him that if he's just wanting time to figure out what he wants to do with his life then he could live at home and work a few different jobs until he discovers some field of work he likes.

    Joining the Army is a noble move but I can't understand why he wants to do this especially at this time. It's not that he wants to make a career out of it. He wants to sign up for the shortest amount of time he can.

    Any ideas? Any advice on how to get him to reconsider?

    I've told him I'll back him 100% as long as I feel he knows what he's doing and what he's getting himself in to.

    A lot of tears have been shed over this in the past 36 hours. Any ideas would be appreciated.


  • #2
    Try to convince him to stick it out to get his degree. Then he can join with a guaranteed commission as a second lieutenant. With a degree the officer training is much easier and shorter. Beats enlisted.
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    • #3
      I got a 18 year old son. He has been connected at his mothers bosum since a baby. Since the money is officially cut off and she still has a $175,000 house to pay for He won't be staying there much longer.
      Like you I offered to move him in and help him get started.
      He won't even call me or answer mine.

      At least you have a relationship with your kid.

      I am a gruff old codger. I don't think he has anything but the bad things in his mind about his father. He remembers things like his older brother punching me in the groin (karate class lesson #6) and me picking him up by one foot and whipping the tar out of him with my belt till he peed hisself. His brother may have been 14 or so? (hey it worked in class) Things like that and what his mother told him I guess I'll never make friends with him. His older brother still hates me. ANd his sister. Ya know the topless dancer in Atlanta? I didn't mold either into what they are today. No chance to. His mother told him she got pregnant just to teach me a lesson. Now that really messes up a kid too.

      Not sure how to fix what hath been wrought. Somethings I am good at, other things terrible.

      Just make sure your son knows your true feelings, then support him in "his" life.

      David Cofer, Of:
      Tunnel Hill, North Georgia


      • #4
        I don't know but it sounds like someone has persuaded him to want to join maybe peer group pressure.
        Precision takes time.


        • #5
          My daughter joined the army last year. She signed up to work on tank turrets. So far she loves it. She is in germany at the moment,I think(hope). Haven't heard from her in a couple of weeks. Last she said was she might get tranfered to a different unit. It's the best thing that happened to her. Don't get me wrong, I'm nervis as hell that she'll go to Iraq. But either way, she is the happiest she has been in her life. I support her 100% even tho we don't always see eye to eye.


          • #6

            Enlisting in the service is not that bad – they can provide him with many opportunities.

            I admire him for wanting to serve his country and if he chooses not to go that’s okay too. Actually, he sounds like someone you can be very proud of! Whatever his decision is I wish him well.


            • #7
              Who knows, I joined in 66 as 'nam was ramping up. I got 'fooled' by the local ASA recuiter, 'no asa in nam'!! How right, but wait, 509th RRG is where? Saigon!! hehehe.

              ASA = drafted twice..4 years in the army. Duh. Army Security Agency

              509th RRG Radio Research Group...whose radio's wave proprogation were we studying?? Nuf said.


              • #8
                My elder son is heading to officer training school in the Air Force next month. In school he has the equivalent of an E-5 (Master Sargent)pay grade. He is already a pilot, already has a spot in flight training (to learn "uncle sam's way") and has a guaranteed spot in a C-130 Reserve Squadron in the Midwest.
                He expressed interest in the Air Force earlier, but until he had his degree, had his pilot licences and ratings, and was a proven commodity, he couldn't be sure where he would end up. I'm glad he waited. I'm biased, but I think he'll make a great officer. The only thing he might have changed was to take advantage of ROTC in school.

                In my line of work I have seen a lot of kids enlist. (I served surrounded by Army, Air Force, and Naval bases for 25 years.) Every one of the kids came out better off than they went in, and a bunch who joined up for the shortest time went back to make a career of it. (See exception at end of post.)
                My advice was always, "Get your degree first," but most just went in and enlisted. A lot of them just didn't want the responsibility of being an officer.
                Some ended up never getting the specialty they were promised. (It "never opened up."} Some were put in programs they selected, but washed out and ended up as ground pounders toting a rifle, or swabs in duties that were on the bottom of their lists.
                What finally happened? - almost uniformly positive attitudes, and they all came back proud of their service.

                The question I asked my son, and all the young men and women who talked to me about it was this: "Do you wan't to serve your country?" If that isn't the main reason to go, disappointment is likely.

                If your son answers yes to that question, and won't go to ROTC, then make sure he leaves certain of your unqualified support.


                The EXCEPTION I promised: Young men and women tight together on ships were a mess. Maybe it's better now, but for a while (1990's, mainly) the official line was, "There is not now, nor can there ever be a problem." As a result people got away with a lot of abuse of rank - because nobody would do anything about it. It would admit there was a problem.

                [This message has been edited by elbryant (edited 12-04-2004).]
                Ed Bryant


                • #9
                  Let him join the Army, there will be no greater thing to make him want to go back to college and get his degree. My friend is over in Iraq right now for his 2nd tour, when he was there during his first tour he kept talking about how he wanted to go back to college and finish his degree. He said the same thing when he was in Boot camp, he couldnt wait to get to college.
                  Now his 2nd tour has delayed his start on his masters degree, but sure enough when he gets back, he'll go.
                  It wasn't just him, everyone in his unit around the same age developed the same attitude.


                  • #10
                    I did most of my enlistment in joint-service operations and bases. I was a linguist. Gave me a real front row seat on the different services. The Marine usually had his own concrete reasons for his choice, and the type of personality that wouldn't have admitted a mistake anyway. The Army often wondered out loud why the hell he'd walked past the Air Force door - in this career anyway, especially when he* noticed how much better the facilities, assignments, and general living conditions were for the Air Force and Navy. I absolutely would not want to get into a fight over which service is "best". None is better than the other - according to the majority in each. And they all have necessary roles. But all I can say, having been there, is "since you asked..." I do second the suggestion of getting a degree first and applying for a commission. He wouldn't be happier - just making more money, eating better meals, and dating up the scale a bit.
                    The retirement benefits are a whole lot better, but most don't go that distance anyway.
                    I left community college to join because I wanted the linguist job and the assignment in Athens, Greece. Never regretted it. Ironically, it was my grades at languange school and performance reports in the Air Force that gained me admission to the University of Michigan. My high school and JC GPA was about 1.5. The military can be a good opportunity, but I'm afraid that the only people, like myself, who will tell you so are ones who went into it for just that reason. I wouldn't sign a single line of paperwork until I was concretely guaranteed of the linguist position. A hell of a lot of guys will sign on a verbal promise and it's a huge mistake. Anyone can very legitmately weigh in here that we're overlooking the aspect of military service that is just that - "service". I agree, but I don't think it's what is on PGMRDANs mind right about now, and I can really respect that.

                    * forgot to add an apology for the pronouns. I'm just one who feels the English language is a lot less cumbersome when the masculine is just assumed to be inclusive.

                    [This message has been edited by bluebeard (edited 12-04-2004).]


                    • #11

                      Yes, I was 30 months on oki in JSPC...Joint Sobe Processing Center. 1967-69. Got to know all 4 branches, army, navy, air force, and marines.

                      The navy had 3 of 4 shifts on their section and one marine shift.

                      Talk about 'hair raising'. One nice afternoon at work, com center calls me and says 'navy has a flash'. Huh?? navy?? 4 days later I am sitting on a hill that faces the DMZ ... No, not the one in Vietnam!! The one still active. You should have seen the Navy man jump when I handed him the message. My buddy in Gilbert Az luckily had pneumonia and had to go to the hospital and missed the ship out date otherwise he would have POW status now at VA.

                      Navy usually got so little traffic that army staffed the 'distrobution' center for them.

                      Long day that.


                      • #12

                        If your son doesn't want to get a college degree now, dont push's too expensive to do if it's not what he wants.

                        Personally I would't be too supportive of the army either. I know too many people that have served their country and returned as assholes. Something changes.

                        5/8 of my uncles were in the Army. They are all the hardest working men I know...the army is great for this, you will come back and be able to work circles around the average person. Of the 8, four enlisted and became lifers. All were (at retirement) or are officers now. The other four were drafted during either Korea or Nam. Two of the drafted and one of the lifers are great loveing people. All the others are cold as ice, better than you, etc. Two of my uncles have divorced themselves from the family and haven't been seen in many years even though they live only a few miles from their parents. Oh...the three that left the army have been in counseling since returning.

                        If it weren't for my uncles, I probably would have joined...but I saw what it can do to a person.



                        • #13
                          he may be fooled by the notion they are hero's. Served during nam' only heroes are dead ones.


                          • #14
                            Cofer, maybe you've already done this, but have you tried writing a letter to your son explaining your past regrets and that you still love him ?

                            Since I don't know more details, perhaps it wouldn't do any good in this situation, but it might be worth a try. Folks are often able to write sentiments that are difficult to say in person and the result can be contemplated by him over time. And I can tell from your posts that you are very good at writing.

                            Sorry to intrude on your personal life, but it is sad indeed to have your own blood holding such hard feelings.


                            • #15
                              Well... Check the waters before you jump in. Military is not for everyone.

                              You might suggest ROTC. Can check it out in college, if you like it - go though the program and be an officer. If he likes what he sees, the military will help people throught school. Not just army, there are 6 good services.

                              If you want to join and be an enlisted - then may be consider the college/ROTC and be an officer? Might be more opportunity for him later......