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?