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Old 09-28-2007, 04:17 PM   #21
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Orchidflower,

When I joined the Navy in the late '60's, it was almost a right of passage for males between 18 and 26. I went to OCS and found my (about) four years very worthwhile. I came from a family in which my dad and all uncles were in the military during WWII and one in Korea. Would I have joined up without a war going on? I don't know really, but probably so.

I can say this for a fact: nowhere else can a recent college graduate get the broad exposure to the expensive toys nor the responsibility these things require. Yea, there were long periods of complete boredom. But when it came time to detect and fire on submarines (sorry Nords), or fire the guns at shore, surface or air targets, con the ship in company or other ships or bringing it alongside for berthing, it made my heart pump! God help me Brewer, I loved it. (Of course memory fads quickly about the sorry CO on my first destroyer or those independent steaming mid-watches at 8 knots.)

I remember when I got my first engineering job when I got out, I thought, "Is this all there is to working as an engineer?" I just felt so confined. I found better, more interesting positions after grad school. But nothing ever got the adrenalin flowing like my time in the Navy. And I'm convinced that the time spent as a division officer on destroyers formed many of my personal traits that led to my quick promotion into a management position in megacorp. (Well, that and the fact I am a better manager than an engineer. I guess I spoke management's language.)

Too much rambling I suppose, but this is one thing that gets me fired up. I don't know about being a JAG on the excitement scale, but your son is bound to come out of it stronger than he goes in.
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Old 09-28-2007, 04:19 PM   #22
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Joining the military as an officer allows one to be placed in a position of leadership and responsibility at a much earlier age than a person in the civilian world. My son does not fit your question because he chose the ROTC route to receive his BS in Mech Eng. After he was on active duty for 3 years he was accepted into AFIT (Air Force Institute of Technolgy) where he received his Masters in Aeronautical Engineering. As an Capt with only 6 1/2 years active duty, he is managing R&D projects on space projects where as a civilian engineer it might take him more than 20 years to get to that position of responsibility. He will be in an excellent position for a follow-on career in the civilian world if he so desires.
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Old 09-28-2007, 04:48 PM   #23
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I think Rustic hit the nail on the head. Each person joins for different reasons. As do those who stay. I can say from what I've seen officers receive a lot more responsibility at a much younger age than their civilian counterparts. As others have said the pay and benefits are not all that good when compared with a civilian job, but the responsibility is amazing. A perfect example was provided by a man who was #2 in charge at one squadron I was assigned to. He said, "Where else can I be under 30 years old and be the assistant Chief of Police for a city numbering over 50,000?" This man went on to be the commander shortly after that. He was still under 30 and was the Chief of Police. Most civilian agencies he might be a Lt or Captain, at best.
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Old 09-28-2007, 05:14 PM   #24
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I guess it is just one of those things that if you do not get it, forget it! But seriously, well no, IMHO thats it!
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Old 09-28-2007, 05:42 PM   #25
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Well, I tried to get that kid of mine to join right after high school figuring all the things you guys have mentioned. And the discipline he would get...wow! I knew all the things he would get out of the service would benefit him in the real world--if nothing else than all the benefits that come with having served (VA benefits and all the other stuff).
But, no! My precious angel would go left if I said right...soooo, now he is 29, finishing college this year and applying to the service (what did Mama tell him before). They give him something like $5,000 either a year or a semester thru law school, and then he gives X amount of years to Uncle Sam.
So, now he has wised up and applying. If they keep him out (some congenital hearing loss is there), he, at least, tried.
I am just glad he is formulating a plan A and B that is on the track to where he wants to end up eventually, which is the political arena. Guess it takes some boys a long time to grow up?
I hope he gets in, but he may not. I know he will be so disappointed if his hearing holds him back, but he is prepared with a plan B in case.
Everybody seems so positive about the experience. I know one of MY biggest errors was not going...and I did consider it. What a mistake that was!!!!!
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Old 09-29-2007, 05:24 PM   #26
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I'm just surprised at all the college grads who join upon graduating. I had NO idea so many joined the service AFTER graduating. The only ones I met in college were going to school thanks to Uncle Sammie's benefits after doing their 3-4 years in...while I slaved away in law offices as a secretary to get the money up to go. I haven't any reservations about my son going in at all, but I am still in the learning stage.
OK, everyone has already mentioned being part of something bigger, wanting to prove oneself, and wanting to pay off those student loans. Those are all good reasons.

It's also been mentioned that it's the route to a commission, and I think that's the #1 reason for attending college before joining the military-- to join as an officer and not to have to depend on the bureaucracy to get selected for officer training. I've sat boards for over a hundred officer candidates and I'd hate to have to depend on some guy like me to let me go to a service academy, OCS, or some other commissioning program.

Another reason was advanced by a Civil War historian studying Pickett's charge. Men form up and march into gunfire because they're alongside a brother, a cousin, a childhood friend, maybe even an uncle or their father. They'd rather get shot than to dishonor themselves among these people. Maybe it's testosterone poisoning, but it's pretty powerful stuff.

Finally, FWIW, joining the military gives a 20-something unrivalled authority & responsibility (and accountability). Unless you're starting your own business, I don't think that most college graduates get the same degree of experience at resource management, leadership, budget, safety training, risk management, and weapons release authority.

Of course they're also entitled to unbelievable degrees of boredom, bureaucracy, danger, and the chance to get their assets shot off. Hard to find all those things at a civilian "my first career".

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From previous post on this board it is obvious that Brewer has nothing but disdain for the military. It appears he is a part of society that believes nothing is worth fighting for, and the military should be disbanded.
Hey, Rustic, I've managed to get along better with conscientious objectors than I have with some shipmates. They hold the same strength of their convictions that we do, although at least one of us is probably misguided. Brewer couldn't hold those opinions unless we were around to defend his right to hold them, and neither could millions of other Americans. I don't have to agree with their sentiments, but I'm proud that I served in the military so that they didn't have to. Hopefuly he'll never have to go through an experience that makes him want to join the military. Even better would be for them to find a solution that makes us irrelevant, but until then I'd rather be the guy in a glass case labeled "Break In Case Of Emergency".

Ever read Joe Haldemann's "The Forever War" and its sequels? He's a Vietnam vet too.

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Without talking with him, I am going to venture a guess that the Marine's cultish philosophy of "once a Marine, always a Marine" appeals to him.
Seems as if all the ex-military who answered this appear to be pretty satisfied with their lives. That's positive and takes a load off my mind...not that I was very worried.
Absolutely. USMC was my first choice until I discovered submarines, and the Marine commercials still give me chicken skin.

A homeschooled 18-year-old friend of mine, whose light burns extremely brightly, is joining the Marines as an infantry grunt (a machine-gunner wannabe) because his older brother has nothing but praise for his 2+ years of experiences (including Iraq). Oh, and he also has zero money for college and can't conceive of why someone would waste perfectly good scholarship money on him.

The Marines are taking him even without a GED (which they'll arrange for him to get after recruit training), just an ASVAB score above 50. If he'd been willing to sign up last month they would've paid him an extra $10K.

He has no plans to stay past four-- just to get in, get out, and get his GI Bill to college. He laughs when I tell him to have an answer ready for that day they ask him "Wanna be an officer?"

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But when it came time to detect and fire on submarines (sorry Nords)
Eh, no offense, only an observation that the second step can't proceed until successful completion of the first. Ever read the "10 Rules of ASW"?

Let's just say that I took equal amounts of red, yellow, and green pyrotechics to sea and was perpetualy running out of green flares before anything else even got close.

If it was you who had to watch a green flare soar over your bridge, uhm, well, sorry about that... I was really aiming for the carrier on your other side!

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If they keep him out (some congenital hearing loss is there), he, at least, tried.
It's not the hearing that's a problem... it's the listening...

I'm surprised at how bad one's hearing can be and still qualify for most military jobs. The only hard-line physical disqualification seems to be childhood asthma.
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Old 09-29-2007, 05:55 PM   #27
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OK, everyone has already mentioned being part of something bigger, wanting to prove oneself, and wanting to pay off those student loans. Those are all good reasons.

It's also been mentioned that it's the route to a commission, and I think that's the #1 reason for attending college before joining the military-- to join as an officer and not to have to depend on the bureaucracy to get selected for officer training. I've sat boards for over a hundred officer candidates and I'd hate to have to depend on some guy like me to let me go to a service academy, OCS, or some other commissioning program.

Another reason was advanced by a Civil War historian studying Pickett's charge. Men form up and march into gunfire because they're alongside a brother, a cousin, a childhood friend, maybe even an uncle or their father. They'd rather get shot than to dishonor themselves among these people. Maybe it's testosterone poisoning, but it's pretty powerful stuff.

Finally, FWIW, joining the military gives a 20-something unrivalled authority & responsibility (and accountability). Unless you're starting your own business, I don't think that most college graduates get the same degree of experience at resource management, leadership, budget, safety training, risk management, and weapons release authority.

Of course they're also entitled to unbelievable degrees of boredom, bureaucracy, danger, and the chance to get their assets shot off. Hard to find all those things at a civilian "my first career".


Hey, Rustic, I've managed to get along better with conscientious objectors than I have with some shipmates. They hold the same strength of their convictions that we do, although at least one of us is probably misguided. Brewer couldn't hold those opinions unless we were around to defend his right to hold them, and neither could millions of other Americans. I don't have to agree with their sentiments, but I'm proud that I served in the military so that they didn't have to. Hopefuly he'll never have to go through an experience that makes him want to join the military. Even better would be for them to find a solution that makes us irrelevant, but until then I'd rather be the guy in a glass case labeled "Break In Case Of Emergency".

Ever read Joe Haldemann's "The Forever War" and its sequels? He's a Vietnam vet too.


Absolutely. USMC was my first choice until I discovered submarines, and the Marine commercials still give me chicken skin.

A homeschooled 18-year-old friend of mine, whose light burns extremely brightly, is joining the Marines as an infantry grunt (a machine-gunner wannabe) because his older brother has nothing but praise for his 2+ years of experiences (including Iraq). Oh, and he also has zero money for college and can't conceive of why someone would waste perfectly good scholarship money on him.

The Marines are taking him even without a GED (which they'll arrange for him to get after recruit training), just an ASVAB score above 50. If he'd been willing to sign up last month they would've paid him an extra $10K.

He has no plans to stay past four-- just to get in, get out, and get his GI Bill to college. He laughs when I tell him to have an answer ready for that day they ask him "Wanna be an officer?"


Eh, no offense, only an observation that the second step can't proceed until successful completion of the first. Ever read the "10 Rules of ASW"?

Let's just say that I took equal amounts of red, yellow, and green pyrotechics to sea and was perpetualy running out of green flares before anything else even got close.

If it was you who had to watch a green flare soar over your bridge, uhm, well, sorry about that... I was really aiming for the carrier on your other side!


It's not the hearing that's a problem... it's the listening...

I'm surprised at how bad one's hearing can be and still qualify for most military jobs. The only hard-line physical disqualification seems to be childhood asthma.
Wow, Brewer1234, -1200 of IQ or at least call to serve.
Called out by Nords. Wow. Calling him trailer park trash. Unreal. j/k

But all kidding aside, the current military is better for the wisdom and experience passed on by those before them in my estimation. They as volunteers, are meeting standards never seen before and getting the job done. I did not serve, but for those who did and those I worked with, it was clear that you deserve respect and even those who would not serve also must sit in awe of a soldier who has something they will never have.
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Old 09-29-2007, 06:10 PM   #28
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The only hard-line physical disqualification seems to be childhood asthma.
When I tried to go back into the Reserves after Iraq started I was advised GERD is also disqualifing, no waivers, no exceptions, period.
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Old 09-29-2007, 06:27 PM   #29
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But I cannot agree that it is a good thing to have these people in the military for years and years: a waste of talent, IMO.
There's no doubt that society pays a really big opportunity cost for having a military. We talk about the dollars spent on defense, but the opportunity cost of the talent we spend on defense is also considerable. Everyone who joins the military is somebody who isn't inventing a new flavor of Gatorade, working on the next high-output battery, analyzing securities to figure out another arbitrage angle, or putting the new coversheet on the TPS reports.

The military, like cops, produce nothing--except the environment that makes everything else possible.

"I study war and politics, so my children can study business and commerce, so their children can study literature and the arts."
(John Adams in a letter to Abigail Adams)

It's almost a "Maslow's Heirachy", but at the societal level

And what type of folks do we need to join up? Unfortunately, they need to be very solid ones. While very few of them will have an opportunity to become famous by bringing great credit to the nation, nearly everyone in uniform has multiple opportunities every day to bring discredit on the uniform and the country. The young troop who assaults a local in a foreign nation can very well affect national policy. The fact that many of us here even know the names of William Calley, Charles Graner and Lynndie England is strong testimony that a miscreant in the wrong spot can do incredible damage to the reputation and objectives of the United States. The services have room for the bright, the average, and the not-so-bright, but there's no room at all for those who won't work or who behave dishonorably.

(For whatever all that is worth!)
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Old 09-29-2007, 07:04 PM   #30
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I joined the Marines right outa high school. I knew I did not want to waste the money I had saved paying for college, and that I would probably just goof around with incredible hot Asian chicks at school anyway hehe.

I just kinda woke up one day and wanted to be a Marine, wanted to challenge and define my man hood I guess. One of the best choices of my life too I think.

I do not think I would have retired by 30 without the Marine Corps, that said I would not want to do 20 years either, but I have massive respect for those that do.

Like Brewer I do not trust big government either, and I kinda think that we are screwed until people become loyal to their country and not their party line. That being said, there is a instant kin-ship among veterans, and they are some of the finest people I have ever met. I do not think the military itself is bad, I think for the most part they are great people, many of whom were probably bad people made good people by the military.

But anyway enough of my views, I do understand why young men decide to join, it is almost like falling in love, you just KNOW that you have to do it
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Old 09-29-2007, 09:10 PM   #31
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I do not think I would have retired by 30 without the Marine Corps, that said I would not want to do 20 years either, but I have massive respect for those that do.
I used to tell my troops, "If you want to do 20 you aren't training hard enough. You should be worn out by 15."
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Old 09-29-2007, 10:14 PM   #32
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I have been trying to come to grips with precisely why I joined up. I grew up in a military family. My father retired after 20 years with the Navy at the beginning of my senior year of high school. He served in Vietnam. Both of my grandfathers were in WWII; one was killed. My aunt was in the Navy and so was my brother. I grew up with the belief that my entry into the military was almost inevitable, that I was born to be "a warrior for my people". That said, if it had not been for the fact that they sent me through college (the U.S. Naval Academy), I might well have skipped it.

I am proud that I served. It was difficult and I think I did a good job. And I think that, at the time, it was necessary. (I was an engineering division officer on a ballistic missile submarine during the "evil empire" days of the Cold War) But even when I was on active duty, I was skeptical about the leadership of this country and the demands that leadership made made on the military. I have been opposed to the war in Iraq from the start and I believe that the military has been ill served by the chickenhawk neocons in Washington. When the enemy lands on the shores of the US, you can count on me to be there to help repel them, but I simply cannot support the invasion and destruction of a country that posed no realistic threat to the U.S.

Sorry to wander off topic. To the OP, I would say simply that there are many and varied reasons for joining the military. It is an honorable profession and it can greatly enrich the life of your son. If he chooses the military, I would ask that you support his decision.

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P.S. - Brewer - I have always believed that investment in tanks and fighter jets does not count as CAPEX, because it produces no measurable return on investment.
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Old 09-30-2007, 02:24 AM   #33
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When I tried to go back into the Reserves after Iraq started I was advised GERD is also disqualifing, no waivers, no exceptions, period.
I am surprised they wouldn't let you back. I did 2 tours AD starting in 1966, then went into the reserves. Developed GERDs while on the first tour of AD (they didn't call it that back then). Called back to AD after the 9/11 affair. Released when I turned 60.
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Old 09-30-2007, 03:37 AM   #34
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There is no way to know why he made that decision in particular. It probably is not any one thing. It could be a combination of things... adventure, patriotism, etc.

I am a veteran. I am glad your son is considering Military Service. Our country needs people to be part of the military organization to keep us safe. It is very important! Unfortunately, there are many governments around the world that would do us harm if they felt they had half a chance! We must never forget that.
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Old 09-30-2007, 06:29 AM   #35
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I am surprised they wouldn't let you back. I did 2 tours AD starting in 1966, then went into the reserves. Developed GERD while on the first tour of AD (they didn't call it that back then). Called back to AD after the 9/11 affair. Released when I turned 60.
When I got out the second time the DOD regulation allowed my return, so for personal reasons I had to completely exit the military. When I attempted to go back in less than a year later they changed the regulation. Initially if you had a small Hiatal Hernia, as I do, you could enter. Under the current regulation if you have GERD there is no hope of going in, unless the ailment is corrected. So I guess I could go back in, but I'd have to talk a doctor into performing a procedure that really isn't necessary, since my GERD is well controlled with meds, and I would have to give up some of the VA disability I receive.

My biggest issue with that is the problem was diagnosed on active duty. The government did not discharge me, so the BS excuse that they can not guarantee I can receive medicine downrange so I can't come in makes no sense. If that were the major reason for the change they should have discharged me when diagnosed. The other two reasons for disqualifying is the issue prevents a person from performing their job and the government does not want to pay to keep someone healthy when they came in sick. Again if it prevented me from performing my job they should have discharged me when I was diagnosed. The last argument does not apply either, as they have to treat me for life anyway, if I chose, since I was diagnosed on duty and receive the disability for it. All of my arguments were tried at various levels to no avail, so all I can do is sit on the sidelines and watch.
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Old 09-30-2007, 11:43 AM   #36
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I AM NOT TRYING TO START ANY ARGUMENTS HERE, but would like to ask this simple question: Why would anyone be so anti-military while living in the United States? Do they not realize that they might be working under another countries power if we did not defend this country? That we have to defend what we have?
Call me stupid, but I just do not get this one at all. I understand what being a pacifist is all about, and, like Sally Field said, and I am paraphrasing, "if the mothers ran the world, there would be no G** D***** wars!" BUT we ARE a big power in the world and need to defend our position (or lose it). What am I not seeing?
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Old 09-30-2007, 11:56 AM   #37
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Well said Gumby.

I graduated from college in 1968 and basically if you could fog a mirror you qualified for the draft. Rather than be drafted in the Army I was accepted to Navy OCS. Would I have gone in without the draft hanging over me? Maybe because I was 22 and wanted to get away from home. My DF was a glider pilot in the Army Air Corps during WWII and my FIL was on a tin can in the Pacific participating in many battles. My FIL told me that you were subject to be drafted up to age 36 during WWII. My father was 30 when he went into the service. Those were different times.

Even though I was injured and discharged with a disability I'm glad I served. To date I had had five shoulder surgeries and diabetes and pancreatic cancer that may be related to my limited Viet Nam service.

Like Gumby I have been against our war in Iraq from the very beginning but have the utmost respect for the men and women who volunteer to serve. As an officer you are given responsibilities at an early age. I was 24 and responsible for safeguarding the most secret documents and material in the military including SIOP and two man control material.

If someone has the desire to join the miliary after college I say go for it. Your time will not be wasted and what you learn will stay with you the rest of your life.

Just my two cents,

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Old 09-30-2007, 11:56 AM   #38
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Well said Gumby.

I graduated from college in 1968 and basically if you could fog a mirror you qualified for the draft. Rather than be drafted in the Army I was accepted to Navy OCS. Would I have gone in without the draft hanging over me? Maybe because I was 22 and wanted to get away from home. My DF was a glider pilot in the Army Air Corps during WWII and my FIL was on a tin can in the Pacific participating in many battles. My FIL told me that you were subject to be drafted up to age 36 during WWII. My father was 30 when he went into the service. Those were different times.

Even though I was injured and discharged with a disability I'm glad I served. To date I had had five shoulder surgeries and diabetes and pancreatic cancer that may be related to my limited Viet Nam service.

Like Gumby I have been against our war in Iraq from the very beginning but have the utmost respect for the men and women who volunteer to serve. As an officer you are given responsibilities at an early age. I was 24 and responsible for safeguarding the most secret documents and material in the military including SIOP and two man control material.

If someone has the desire to join the miliary after college I say go for it. Your time will not be wasted and what you learn will stay with you the rest of your life.

Just my two cents,

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Old 09-30-2007, 12:04 PM   #39
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As a pro-midthink type, I suspect Nords comment of chastisement has highlighted the issue very well.

Brewer and ladelfina can feel safe and pacified only as long as folks like Nords, Wags and many others who've served in the military with life at risk to secure our pacifist's comfy existence. And right to speak freely.

I'm surprised that so many posters have been positive in their response, it seems some of the more anti-military posters have eschewed comment. As they should, since you question was directed to reasons to join, not reasons to hate our military.
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Old 09-30-2007, 01:50 PM   #40
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I AM NOT TRYING TO START ANY ARGUMENTS HERE, but would like to ask this simple question: Why would anyone be so anti-military while living in the United States?
I believe you are not trying to start an argument, but there's no better way to start one than to pose a question like this. I hope that the thread can stay positive despite the red flag waiving (which will result in stars-n-stripes waiving, which never ends well).
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