Why Students Aspire To Become Veterans

Joseph Ehmann, Sports Editor

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This summer Weston Ranch student Mimi Laseinde won a $1000 essay contest

writing about challenges veterans faced after returning home from the Vietnam War.

 

As we honor the brave men and women who’ve served in our country’s military branches on this Veterans Day weekend – Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marine Corps. – here is a question worth considering.

Why do people choose to join the military?

Unlike countries like Israel and Norway, where military service is a requirement of citizenship, in the United States, we have a volunteer military. And since the U.S. draft ended in 1973, many of our veterans, who are age 45 and under, joined as volunteers. This means it was their choice to become veterans.

Because it is a choice, some people choose not to serve their country in this way.

Since 2008, U.S. voters have elected a president – a Commander-in-Chief – who has not served in our country’s military. This is a relatively new idea in American history. After all, our first president was a general who lived out his life as a veteran and a farmer at his Mount Vernon home until his death in 1799.

So, what is it that draws students and young adults to join today’s U.S. military?

I can answer that question.

Since the Eighth Grade, I have had a fascination with the military. It seemed like I was made for it.

By the end of my sophomore year, I decided to join the United States Marine Corps. It was inevitable.

This term, like many other students at Weston Ranch, I took the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery or ASVAB test in the school library. It is a step that brings you closer to your goal. We received our scores yesterday.

I can’t wait for the challenges and adventures that this new life will bring. And, most of all, it will include the honor to call myself a Marine.

What makes other teens want to join the military?

Karina Loya told The Prowl that serving in the U.S. military is a family tradition. It’s what you do.

For Jose Revuelta, it was the opportunities that military service offered that made signing up seem appealing to him.

Adam Daniels said that he wants to push his limits – mentally, physically and emotionally – to see what he’s capable of achieving.

Among the students that I speak with, most said it was their inner desire to serve their country that influenced their decision to join the military after high school to eventually become veterans.

On Veterans Day, we are supposed to pause and acknowledge those who’ve answered this call. It is also important to remember how we, as a country, have done that acknowledging.

Over the summer, a part of a Vietnam Memorial called “The Moving Wall” visited Stockton.

Before it arrived, Weston Ranch student Mimi Laseinde wrote an award-winning essay about the veterans who served during this controversial time in history. Many Vietnam veterans were shunned when they returned to America because of attitudes against that war. Laseinde’s essay addressed the challenges that the American combat soldier faced abroad and the challenges that they faced when they returned home.

Veterans today continue to face challenges both during and after their service has ended.

According to a recent survey from the Wounded Warrior Project, an organization that supports veterans and service men and women who’ve been injured in combat, 77 percent of nearly 34,000 people surveyed said they experienced a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) since returning home. When it came to finding work, 13 percent surveyed said they were unemployed.

People may second-guess the actions of Commanders-in-Chief who send service men and women into harm’s way. But rather than diminish our veterans, this questioning should cause us to honor their service even more. These are men and women who’ve decided to risk their lives not to serve a political leader or political party but our nation.

So, despite any challenges that lie ahead, I still believe that there is nothing better than answering the call to serve my country.

Prowl staff contributed to this article.

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