Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Economy's Loss is the Army's Gain

This article in the Washington Post details the recent upswing in enlistment numbers since the bottom dropped out of the economy, and unemployment hit sixteen-year record highs. My own daughter, who has been unemployed or underemployed for the last year, is considering enlisting in the Navy if she can't get any other full-time employment soon.

The expectation (perhaps premature, given the current events in Mumbai) that we will be out of a wartime military, complicated by the lack of jobs here in the United States, particularly for young people, is directing young job seekers to the only place that's hiring---the Armed Forces.

This is concerning, for me as a parent and for me as an American. Must we always solve the economic troubles caused by fat, aging, rich guys with the flesh and blood of our young people? Is that the only way that America can ever hope to drag itself out of the depths---by sacrificing the safety and innocence of the current generation of its youth?

I've tried to convince my daughter to hold off on the military. Don't get me wrong. I come from a military family with a long-standing honorable history of military service. But the war right now is not particularly honorable nor upstanding, and I'd rather she not make that part of her karma. Besides, if Obama can keep his promises about rebuilding infrastructure, there will be many direct and ancillary jobs created as a result. Things will get better. Right now, though, it's a race against the financial clock for a lot of kids who have bills to pay now. What are they to do in the meantime? Mine has the option of getting parental help, but a lot of kids out there don't have parents who can help. And they may be forced---whether they believe in this unholy endeavor in the Middle East---to participate, whether they want to or not.


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