After seven months working for the Army, I've had ample time to mull around ideas, observe soldiers, civilians, the workings of the military. I wonder, what could be done to make this better? It seems that there's left quite a lot to want when you look at our troops.
The military has become a posse of people who've had hard knocks in life (either through poverty, unemployment, or intelligence), those who played too many shoot-em-up video games, the guys who never want to grow up or true military-soldier types. It's not the mish-mash of the days of the draft, when you might have sensitive and macho working hand in hand.
Our society has become more and more stratified in the recent past, and so we communicate with people who are like us, imposing our values only on those who already agree, not able or willing to have conscious discussions with those who might be dissident to our ideas.
I find this sad. Who best to learn from, than those who are different?
I would be a proponent of mandatory military service. For at least one year. Everyone, regardless of life situation... I think it would force us to see some of the invisible people in society, to stop looking with disdain on the soldiers, to examine our reasons for going to war, whether they are worthy or not. And to appreciate our ancestors who went to WW1 and WW2, scared and unable to shoot, and yet, they did their job.
No one should be exempt from this. If we are willing to send someone else's kid to die, we should be willing to send our own. We should be willing to go ourselves. It's part of being American.