Permalink to My Stepson Wants to Join the Marines … Should He?

My Stepson Wants to Join the Marines … Should He?

 

When my stepson came to his dad and me and told us that he wants to join the Marines, my first reaction was one of worry and a little dread. I wanted to express my fears about his safety, but I didn’t. I held them in check. That’s because, while I am a mom, I’m also the daughter of a U.S. Marine.

My dad was career military, being stationed on beachheads in Turkey and Iran where he worked in the engineering division making maps. He joined the Marines in 1956 and he retired in 1977. His time in Vietnam came at a price, as he was exposed to Agent Orange—he has endured years of disease and disability. He suffers in ways only those who know such pain can understand.

Still, my dad holds his head high and loves the Marines. When he goes out to dinner in Jacksonville where he and my mom still live, he always scans the restaurant and picks out a young military couple or a group of guys talking about their upcoming deployment, and he quietly makes his way over to them, leaning heavily on his cane, and picks up their tab. When my mom goes to the commissary on base, she often pays the bill of a young woman with children who’s in line with her.

I’m proud to have a father who was a U.S. Marine and who still serves the best way he can. To this day, he lives and breathes Semper Fi.

So, after reflection, the questions I posed to my stepson when I finally got past the initial motherly panic were: Is this what you really want to do? Are you prepared to fight, kill, and die for your country? Because if you’re just going in for the benefits and you don’t want to make the sacrifice that you’ll be called to, then you’d better not join. Are you truly willing to put your life on the line under orders you might not understand or even agree with?

He, of course, said yes to all. But the last question caused me to pause. I support my stepson’s decision, but as a conservative in the era of Barack Obama and a Democratic Party that is hostile to the military, I wonder if it is the right decision—not because I’m afraid of my stepson getting into war but because, to be honest–and I don’t like saying it–I do not trust the commander in chief.

My question to you is should a person even contemplate trust in the commander-in-chief when joining the military? Does devotion to country supersede who’s in the White House even though the president is the one calling the shots (and more so as Obama circumvents Congress)? Would you join the military or want your child to join under the command Obama? Do you think this presidency is different from any other, and should it cause one to be concerned about military service?

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Members have made 123 comments.

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  1. Profile photo of Misthiocracy Member

    If worried about your son’s safety, I think now is the perfect time to join the military. The current commander-in-chief is loathe to send meat soldiers into battle, preferring to use drones instead.

    Furthermore, as robotics becomes more and more advanced, there will be fewer opportunities for meat soldiers to go into actual battle.

    • #1
    • January 22, 2013 at 10:16 am
  2. Profile photo of EJHill Member

    Your son will take an oath to the Constitution, not the President.

    My son, too, is looking at the USMC. The ethos of the Corps is one of the last outposts of traditional American culture.

    By the way, I’m sure if your father were to read your post he would surely point out your one lapse of grammar:

    I’m proud to have a father who was a U.S. Marine and who still serves the best way he can.

    There’s a tense problem there. The word is not was, the word is is. Neither age nor infirmity nor duty status can change the fact that your father IS a Marine, now and forever.

    A Marine doesn’t die. Those that aren’t guarding the streets of Heaven have simply gone to Hell to regroup.

    • #2
    • January 22, 2013 at 10:25 am
  3. Profile photo of Cornelius Julius Sebastian Thatcher

    Let him. It will virtually gurantee he never becomes a liberal. USMC is a great bunch. I am Army, but was attached to 1st MEF for the first few months of OIF. Marines kick it old school. I wish the Army was more like them. 

    • #3
    • January 22, 2013 at 10:26 am
  4. Profile photo of The King Prawn Member

    The questions you posed, while good ones, will have the answers worked out in basic training. Even those of us who joined the military for the benefits develop a bedrock patriotism while in the service (at least 20 years ago we did.)

    As to the questions at the end, I say yes, the military is still a great vocation. One of the beauties of seperating our military from the government (as much as it is separate) is that it retains some autonomy. Those who serve may swear obedience to the CinC, but they swear fealty to the Constitution. Besides, who wants a whole generation of the military that is in lockstep with Obama and his kind?

    • #4
    • January 22, 2013 at 10:28 am
  5. Profile photo of Lord Humungus Inactive

    I went through this. My kid serves. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Ya gotta let him go, Mom. I know it ain’t easy.

    • #5
    • January 22, 2013 at 10:28 am
  6. Profile photo of Paul Dougherty Member

    I, like many, are looking for reason’s to hope for the future of this great nation. The institutions that keep us together and educate, build, adjudicate, legislate, and regulate are all showing signs of failing. The Marine Corps is not one of these, as of yet. I need a Marine Corps. We need a Marine Corps. It is not everthing that is virtuous, but the vast majority of those who serve within its ranks sincerely strive to be. That is enough. I cannot tell you if the Marine Corps is for your step-son, that is for him to discover. I can say that I have yet to meet the person who regets having served. They may be dismayed at circumstances that have occured, but regret joining? No. They exist, I am sure, but I haven’t met them.

    • #6
    • January 22, 2013 at 10:31 am
  7. Profile photo of Black Prince Member
    Denise McAllister

    My question to you is should a person even contemplate trust in the commander in chief when joining the military?

    Absolutely…we shouldn’t be mindless automatons. “I was just following orders” won’t cut on the day of judgement.

    Denise McAllister

    Does devotion to country supersede who’s in the White House even though the president is the one calling the shots (and more so as Obama circumvents Congress)?

    This question can be interpreted different ways. I think the question that you really want to ask is whether joining the Marines is devotion to country or to the President. I personally think that it’s devotion to the President since he is the Command in Chief.

    Denise McAllister

    Would you join the military or want your child to join under the command Obama?

    Substitute “Josef Stalin” for “Obama” and you’ll get your answer.

    Denise McAllister

    Do you think this presidency is different from any other, and should it cause one to be concerned about military service? 

    This presidency is very different. Anyone thinking about joining the military should have grave concerns.

    • #7
    • January 22, 2013 at 10:40 am
  8. Profile photo of Black Prince Member
    Misthiocracy: …as robotics becomes more and more advanced, there will be fewer opportunities for meat soldiers to go into actual battle. · 23 minutes ago

    I don’t think that Denise’s issue is safety—it’s about ethics and morality. Is it ethical for a citizen to engage in lethal force to further the aims of a decidedly an unethical Commander in Chief?

    • #8
    • January 22, 2013 at 10:44 am
  9. Profile photo of JimGoneWild Member

    Not every Marine has a combat occupation, fights or goes to war. There are plenty of skill positions in the Marines that don’t involve combat status. I bet they need language experts, electronic technicians–jet engine mechanic was a 5 year commitment because of the training needed so it was very hard recruiting them. Go with your son and speak with the recruiter. In fact, talk with all the recruiters from all the services, you never know what you might find out. For example, the Army allows high school graduates to be helicopter pilots, most people don’t know that. Knowledge is power.

    • #9
    • January 22, 2013 at 10:48 am
  10. Profile photo of Black Prince Member
    EJHill: Your son will take an oath to the Constitution, not the President.

    This may be true in theory, but what will actually happen in reality?

    • #10
    • January 22, 2013 at 10:53 am
  11. Profile photo of Misthiocracy Member
    Black Prince
    Misthiocracy: …as robotics becomes more and more advanced, there will be fewer opportunities for meat soldiers to go into actual battle.

    I don’t think that Denise’s issue is safety—it’s about ethics and morality. Is it ethical for a citizen to engage in lethal force to further the aims of a decidedly an unethical Commander in Chief? 

    I still think it would be a pretty safe bet that the current Commander In Chief won’t order the Marines to engage in lethal force during the next four years.

    The Air Force maybe, but not the Marines, for many of the same reasons the other posters have mentioned about why the Marines are so good.

    In short, I have trouble imagining President Obama admitting that he could ever need the services of the Marines.

    • #11
    • January 22, 2013 at 10:54 am
  12. Profile photo of D.C. McAllister Contributor
    D.C. McAllister Post author
    Black Prince

    I don’t think that Denise’s issue is safety—it’s about ethics and morality. Is it ethical for a citizen to engage in lethal force to further the aims of a decidedly an unethical Commander in Chief? · 7 minutes ago

    Edited 5 minutes ago

    I think this does get at what I’m asking. I understand their oath is to the Constitution, but so is the president’s, but he undermines the Constitution and yet is still the commander in chief. As someone who loves the Marines, this is a very real ethical dilemma for me, though I know my stepson would love serving and it would be good for him and those around him. I just don’t want him used by the president as the Black Prince has described.

    • #12
    • January 22, 2013 at 10:55 am
  13. Profile photo of D.C. McAllister Contributor
    D.C. McAllister Post author
    EJHill: 

    By the way, I’m sure if your father were to read your post he would surely point out your one lapse of grammar:

    I’m proud to have a father who was a U.S. Marine and who still serves the best way he can.

    There’s a tense problem there. The word is notwas, the word isis.Neither age nor infirmity nor duty status can change the fact that your fatherISa Marine, now and forever.

    A Marine doesn’t die. Those that aren’t guarding the streets of Heaven have simply gone to Hell to regroup. · 29 minutes ago

    You are absolutely right! Thank you for the correction. I should go edit it.

    • #13
    • January 22, 2013 at 10:55 am
  14. Profile photo of Black Prince Member
    Misthiocracy

    I still think it would be a pretty safe bet that the current Commander In Chief won’t order the Marines to engage in lethal force during the next four years….In short, I have trouble imagining President Obama admitting that he could ever need the services of the Marines.

    I disagree. It is not a safe bet. All bets are off when it comes to Obama. Obama is a Josef Stalin in the making. Yes, our situation is that serious.

    • #14
    • January 22, 2013 at 11:00 am
  15. Profile photo of Misthiocracy Member
    Black Prince
    Misthiocracy

    I still think it would be a pretty safe bet that the current Commander In Chief won’t order the Marines to engage in lethal force during the next four years.

    I disagree. It is not a safe bet. All bets are off when it comes to Obama. Obama is a Josef Stalin in the making. Yes, our situation is that serious. 

    I think it would be more likely that he would try to purge the Marines before he’d ever try to use them.

    • #15
    • January 22, 2013 at 11:07 am
  16. Profile photo of Devereaux Inactive

    Something different, Denise.

    Every Marine I know learned leadership, self-control, clear thinking, aggressive attitude (not necessarily behavior) and self-confidence. I look about and find a HUGE number of organizations are run by … Marines. It is not accidental that one of the common statements in the Marine Corps is: “It’s hard to be humble when you’re the finest.”

    Let him go. He may or may not stay, but he will learn much and it will stand him in good stead for the rest of his life.

    • #16
    • January 22, 2013 at 11:14 am
  17. Profile photo of The King Prawn Member
    Denise McAllister
    Black Prince

    I don’t think that Denise’s issue is safety—it’s about ethics and morality. Is it ethical for a citizen to engage in lethal force to further the aims of a decidedly an unethical Commander in Chief? · 7 minutes ago

    Edited 5 minutes ago

    I think this does get at what I’m asking. I understand their oath is to the Constitution, but so is the president’s, but he undermines the Constitution and yet is still the commander in chief. As someone who loves the Marines, this is a very real ethical dilemma for me, though I know my stepson would love serving and it would be good for him and those around him. I just don’t want him used by the president as the Black Prince has described. · 20 minutes ago

    “This too shall pass.”

    By the time your step-son gets through the delayed entry program, basic, and any MOS schooling required Obama’s second term will be half way over.

    • #17
    • January 22, 2013 at 11:21 am
  18. Profile photo of Black Prince Member
    The King Prawn

    “This too shall pass.”

    By the time your step-son gets through the delayed entry program, basic, and any MOS schooling required Obama’s second term will be half way over.

    Hummm….so once Obama’s term is over everything will go back to normal and we won’t have anything to worry about. I’m not so optimistic.

    • #18
    • January 22, 2013 at 11:48 am
  19. Profile photo of Great Ghost of Gödel Inactive

    Completely non-responsive to the questions (sorry!) but I can’t think about the USMC without thinking of Stan Ridgway’s odd, but oddly moving, musical tribute.

    • #19
    • January 23, 2013 at 1:19 am
  20. Profile photo of Byron Horatio Member

    No, he should join the Army! Ok, I only jest. But if he has a good head on his shoulders and isn’t a criminal, he should be fine. I’ve had the honor my first two years as an officer to meet and train with a number of Marines. My best friend left the Corps and is a cavalry officer with me in the Army now. He is truly one of the most honorable and decent people I’ve ever met. A true war hero and tanker in Fallujah and incredibly humble. He joined the Marines 10 years ago in Puerto Rico and didn’t know a word of English. Doesn’t regret a thing.

    • #20
    • January 23, 2013 at 1:20 am
  21. Profile photo of Simon Templar Member

    There are more questions that you also need to consider: Does our country need a strong Marine Corps? If so, whose mother’s sons should serve? If somebody has to make the other SOB die for his country, why should it be only my neighbors’ sons and daughters? Are danger, sacrifice, and duty only for the less fortunate?

    Don’t we hope to turn America around? In the interim we need a few good men and women to serve.

    The Marines need bright patriots to bear the soldiers load – the weight of a nation. I don’t know whether or not your step-son should join the Marines, but I do believe that somebody’s son needs to be out there on the pointy end of the spear. Hopefully in 4 years or less, we’ll again have a country and CinC worth serving. Your concerns are valid; but theoretically (and that is a huge presumption with Dear Leader at the helm – remember Libya?) the Generals and Admirals can block most attempts by Obama to blatantly abuse his authority. 

    By the way, I have reason to know that as a Marine’s daughter you’ve also served – Semper Fi.

    • #21
    • January 23, 2013 at 1:24 am
  22. Profile photo of Ragnar Danneskjöld Member

    Absolutely, if you want to learn your stepson to learn for himself why conservatism works he should either enlist or commission (the way the officer pipeline is currently backed up, he probably won’t hit the fleet for another 2+ years). He can learn how change happens because of the strength and professionalism of individual Marines on the ground, not because of bureaucrats removed from the action. 

    • #22
    • January 23, 2013 at 2:02 am
  23. Profile photo of D.C. McAllister Contributor
    D.C. McAllister Post author
    Aaron Miller: If the President ever broke the last constraints of American law and tradition, your stepson’s life or freedom would be on the line as either a civilian or as a soldier. 

    This is a very good point for me to think about. I take to heart all the advice expressed here, and all the good that can come from serving. I’ve seen it throughout my life. I don’t question the military (any more than I don’t question teachers when I criticize the teachers’ unions). Like has been stated above, there’s a danger here with this president. But like you said, Aaron, we’re in danger either as soldiers or as civilians if Obama turns on the Constitution. Why not have someone as strong and good and, yes, conservative as my stepson in the Marines when we’re in trouble. It’s just this nagging gut feeling of caution and distrust in the president, and honestly, I hate that—as an American—I even have those feelings!

    • #23
    • January 23, 2013 at 2:55 am
  24. Profile photo of Byron Horatio Member

    You may or may not be surprised at how utterly apolitical most people are in the military. I rarely ever hear politics discussed, much less the president. The atmosphere within the military does not change that drastically from one administration to another. 

    • #24
    • January 23, 2013 at 3:15 am
  25. Profile photo of donald todd Member

    Semper Fi.

    It sounds as though your stepson is about to make an adult decision. Excellent.

    One of the previous respondents noted that Marines are Marines whether on active duty of not. Excellent.

    I would warn him about the initial group of cruise directors, but that is something one learns on one’s own, and very very quickly.

    • #25
    • January 23, 2013 at 3:28 am
  26. Profile photo of Edward Smith Inactive

    Oooh!

    If he is the right kind of person (I suspect he is) and gets the right kind of training, he may well come out of the Corps not only with real friends for life, but real marketable skills for prosperity.

    As to what President he goes in under – if soldiers only enlisted when good Presidents were in office, we’d not have had much of an armed forces.

    BTW what passes for this now?

    Ruptured-Duck-23-April-2012.jpg

    JimGoneWild: Not every Marine has a combat occupation, fights or goes to war. There are plenty of skill positions in the Marines that don’t involve combat status. I bet they need language experts, electronic technicians–jet engine mechanic was a 5 year commitment because of the training needed so it was very hard recruiting them. Go with your son and speak with the recruiter. In fact, talk with all the recruiters from all the services, you never know what you might find out. For example, the Army allows high school graduates to be helicopter pilots, most people don’t know that. Knowledge is power. · 4 hours ago
    • #26
    • January 23, 2013 at 3:50 am
  27. Profile photo of Giantkiller Member

    As a 28-year rustpicker, I have to say that the Corps is probably the only branch I would recommend your stepson join now. The Army and Air Force are not what they once were, which is especially depressing. Budget cuts, aging ships and aircraft, and political correctness are rapidly ruining the Navy, though there is still some esprit. The Corps has its share of knucklehead leaders, but at least they are Marines.

    • #27
    • January 23, 2013 at 4:32 am
  28. Profile photo of The Mugwump Inactive

    One of the characteristics of a president with a normal sense of morality is that they agonize over sending men into battle. Lincoln was known to groan and thrash about in his sleep to the point where the body guards outside his door broke down in tears. Lyndon Johnson was so distraught over hearing “hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?” that he aged twenty-five years in a span of five. George W. Bush was known to weep openly at military funerals.

    Barack Hussein Obama is suspected of having withheld support from Americans under fire in Benghazi leading to their deaths of four men including our ambassador. He has offered no credible explanation, showed no genuine remorse, nor adequately answered the families of the love ones who were lost.

    My answer would be no. 

    • #28
    • January 23, 2013 at 5:02 am
  29. Profile photo of Robert E. Lee Member

    Take your son on a tour of the local VA hospital. Show him what happens after he’s volunteered to serve. Show him what the government will give him after all his hard work. Then, if he still wants to join, at least he will go into it with his eyes open.

    • #29
    • January 23, 2013 at 5:15 am
  30. Profile photo of Lord Humungus Inactive
    Fricosis Guy: This works both ways, folks. 

    My dad has had terminal Bush Derangement Syndrome since 2000. However, in 2002 at age 70, he came off the bench for the GWOT, pulling TDY in hardship posts that they couldn’t otherwise fill. His last assignment was in the Horn of Africa, working with the Marines in Djibouti.

    My dad may have been disgusted by Bush 43, but he never confused that disgust with his respect for the office of the President, his commitment to his commission, or love for our country. We would do well to do the same. · 9 hours ago

    Central Scrutinizer: Ladies and gentlemen, our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines do not serve our president. They serve our country. · 24 minutes ago

    This is sooooooo cooooool.

    • #30
    • January 23, 2013 at 5:22 am
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