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Patriotic Article
By Van E. Harl

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The Military Does Not Want Broken People
(April 10, 2010)

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I was in Elk City, OK at a gun show a while back. Having been in the retail and wholesale gun business before entering the Air Force, I have a good working knowledge of the firearms industry. Sometimes it is interesting to listen to people at guns shows try to pass themselves off as an expert. I was standing at this table where two men were trying to impress each other with their limited knowledge of a couple of guns sitting on the table.

After a while they started talking about a young man they both know and started listing many of this person's shortcomings in life, to include run-ins with the law. One man stated “that the judge should just make the kid go in the army”. The second man agreed. At this point in the conversation I asked the two men if there were veterans, they both said no. I then advised them

Van E. Harl
Van E. Harl

that the military really did not want their young friend. For sure my big Air Force did not want this young man and all the personal baggage he had accumulated in his short life.
I know there are stories that have floated around since the Civil War about men in trouble with the law having the choice to join the army or go to jail. It may have been an option in the past but it just does not work that way anymore. The military has gotten a whole lot more sophisticated in the past thirty years and we need people who are smart and trainable. There is very little room for rock-painters and deck-swabbers in the military these days.

An infantry solider does not only take his rifle into battle, he takes his computer into combat also. And he has to be able to use and interpret the data from that computer in real-time, because lives are on the line. Betty Stephens of Warr Acres, OK stated in the “Oklahoman” (newspaper) that our country should put convicted prisoners in the military and sent them to Iraq. We tried that in WW II and wound up putting Private Eddie Slovak (a convicted felon and ex-con) up against a wall and shooting him for failing to follow orders in combat.

People who fail to get a basic high school education, fail to stay out of trouble with the law, or fail to stay away from drugs – whether they get caught or not (this includes alcohol and tobacco) have already giving up on themselves. Why should the military take a very expensive risk on a person of that caliber, who has a better than even chance of given up on the military quicker than they gave up on themselves?

I taught high school in Mississippi and it was a never ending struggle for my students because of their extremely poor reading skills. So when it came time to take the military aptitude test to see what a student would qualify to do in the service, my students scored very poorly. In many cases they could not make the minimum score to qualify. What really amazed me was that almost all my students believed or at least expressed in class that it did not matter how well that preformed in high school because they could always join the army. To quote them, “the army will take anyone.” Well I am afraid that the army cannot use the under-skilled, life's failures.

Now don't get me wrong, if the US is ever invaded and the east and west coasts go up in a mushroom cloud I can guarantee that the remaining military will take just about anyone who still has their trigger finger in tack. You will not be joining for GI Bill education benefits, in fact you will not even be volunteering: you will be drafted.

Do not be mistaken, there is already a draft process alive and well in this country, for political reasons we choose not to use it “now.” In time of crisis our government will take anyone they need to defend this nation. The less qualified ones will most likely get to be the early cannon fodder and the smart ones stand a better chance of being in a military career field that has a higher survivability rate. Paying for your gas at a convenience store, versus holding up that store with a handgun will have a major impact on your potential military career and who gets to come home from their war.

Aim high, get an education, and just wave at the nice policeman.

By Van E. Harl
Copyright 2007

About Author:
Major Van E. Harl, USAF Ret., was a career police officer in the U.S. Air Force. He was the Deputy Chief of police at two Air Force Bases and the Commander of Law Enforcement Operations at another. Major Harl is a graduate of the U.S. Army Infantry School, the Air Force Squadron Officer School and the Air Command and Staff College. After retiring from the Air Force he was a state police officer in Nevada.

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