Defending and Fighting for Your Country Term Paper

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Defending and Fighting for Your Country

In the movie Boyz in the Hood (1991), the father tells his son, "Don't ever go in the Army, Tre. A black man ain't got no place there." The father is talking to his son from about racism in the military, but there are other reasons not to go. In this essay I will argue that for several reasons it is not worth it to enlist in the military. The living conditions are terrible, the pay is no good, divorce is frequent, soldiers get post-traumatic stress disorder, death happens everyday, and the wars are not worth fighting.

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The only people who live well in the military are the officers. They have good beds, better food, and better living quarters. Officers only give orders. They don't do the work itself. Enlisted people do all the dirty work. Officers can order you to work 20 hours a day if they want, and if you are enlisted, you have to do it or be punished for not obeying an order. Enlisted have to do whatever they are ordered to do -- even if they know they'll die from it. My cousin Jamal was in the Navy. He told me when the ship due for inspection, all the sailors have to work long hours, scraping slime and muck off the bilges and doing painting and repairs. They turn off the heat to work on the pipes and the pumps, so if it's wintertime, the sailors work (and sleep) in the cold. Kitchen and dining workers get up at 4:30 A.M. so they can have breakfast on by 6:00 when everybody else gets up. These same people work until 7:00 at night. They don't get time for a life. In hot places like the Persian Gulf, the sailors work on deck in heat 135 degrees F. Why would anybody want to live like that?

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Kids that are poor think going in the military is a way to get ahead. They think it's an opportunity and maybe easier than going to college. Instead of paying for tuition, they get paid to serve their country. Charles Rangel, a democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to do a study of who goes in the military. Rangel said, "A disproportionate number of the poor and minority groups make up the enlisted ranks of the military, while most privileged Americans are underrepresented or absent" (Demographics of Military Enlistment after 9/11 web site). The study the GAO do showed it was true. Young people in the ghetto want to make something of themselves. The Army run ads on TV all the time about finding out how much of a man you are by enlisting. They make it look you'll be a hero. They claim the benefits are great. They're not. And the pay is lousy compared to what you can make on the outside. A new recruit earns $2,416 his first two years. If he stays 26 years and works his way up to an E-7 pay rate, he can earn $14,196 (Military Pay Charts web site). You could make more than that at McDonalds! Of course, a recruiter would tell you that you don't have any expenses. Everything is given to you, so the money is free and clear -- even the freaky haircuts. That might seem great to some people to be taken care of like that, but lots of people that would like to get out are afraid after a few years in the Service. My cousin says they told him he can't make it on the outside so he'd stay. The fact that they provide everything gives them too much power over you.

And that brings up another thing. You might sign up for three years, but if there's a war going on, they don't have to let you leave at the end of that time (Oaths of Enlistment and Oaths of Office web site). There's lots of people right now in Iraq who've been sent back three or four times. They're not letting them out.

Divorce in the military has become a real problem. An article in People magazine says more than 50% of G.I.s are married, and since the war in Iraq started, the divorce rate has jumped way high. When one person is away for months on end, the person at home has to do all the work and take care the kids. The one who is gone is all alone is trying to stay alive and looking at "suffering, wounded, dead bodies" (People, 17 Oct. 2005, p. 128) and he's supposed to be cool about it. He might see everybody else get killed. The one at home do all the worrying. If the toilet is plugged up or the furnace is broke, he's in Baghdad and can't help her. By the time he comes home, she has learned to get along without him. She and the kids have a schedule that doesn't fit him. He has to adapt to being home, which might be hard when she doesn't know what he's been through and all the killings he's seen (or had to do). He knows he might have to go back, too. No wonder between 2001 and 2004, the divorce rate in the Army doubled. In 2001 enlisted people got 4,513 divorces. In 2004 they got 7, 152 divorces (People, 2005). If you want to stay married, it's not worth it to go in the military and maybe your family be ruined.

Another problem for soldiers is post-traumatic stress disorder. People get home and they sleep all day, listless and agitated at the same time, and losing their memory. Sudden noises make them panic and start screaming that a missile is going to kill them. The person thinks for a few minutes he is back in Iraq or Afghanistan or Vietnam. The big worry is not being able to go back to a civilian job because of jumpiness, crying and nightmares. The military doesn't do much for people that suffer afterwards from combat. They accuse them of "malingering" and punish them, even though they fought for their country honorably (Sherman, 2006). Soldiers are supposed to suffer in silence in the military. But Walter Reed Army Institute of Research says 30% of soldiers who come home from Iraq will have mental problems. The death rate is 1 in 9. Those that live get brain injuries from roadside bombs and explosions. The symptoms are similar to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The military tells these people to "suck it up" (Sherman, 2006, p. 11).

The statistics on death really make you stop and think. All told, Americans killed in action are 2,757,196 (Price, 2003). This includes all the major wars but not the minor ones that only last a few days or weeks. In Vietnam, the longest war (90 months), one in every four soldiers died. Total loss was 47,369 lives. In World War I 126,000 Americans died. In World War II, 295,000 Americans were killed in action. The Korean War took 33,651 (Price, 2003). Why? Why does anyone want to go and die like that? For what?

In the book War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning, a book by Chris Hedges (2001), he's a war correspondent, has lots to say about war. He thinks the reason war has continued throughout the ages is because it does something for people. He says a lot of people lead empty lives without meaning or purpose. They long to fill the emptiness, so they accept the myth that war is something grand and noble with a cause to uphold worth dying for. If it weren't for this myth, nobody would join the military to do "the important work of defending our great country."

Without the myth, the government couldn't get Congress to appropriate money to back wars, or campaign in the media to gain the support of people at home.

This is the myth:

America is all that is good and decent and honorable. We got to defend freedom and our way of life at all costs. America is the greatest country on earth. We fight on the side of God and the angels. If an enemy threaten us, we have every right to kill them, and if we are injured or die, our sacrifice is an honor and a privilege because death was for a just and noble cause.

Our soldiers are brave heroes. The enemy's soldiers are cowards and evil, not even human beings. Our enemies hate our way of life. We'll save the world from tyranny and take freedom to the rest of the world.

It's powerful. And all countries have the same myth. Hedges (2001) says, "It allows us to believe we have achieved our place in human society because of a long chain of heroic endeavors, rather than accept the sad reality that we stumble along a dimly lit corridor of disasters" (p. 23). The whole thing is a big… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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