“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends”(layman’s terms “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend”) ~John 15:13
I recently read an article called “America’s Love Affair with Uniformed Men is Problematic” in a British magazine called The Economist. The magazine features heavy coverage of the United States. It appears as tho the author is named simply as Lexington. This was a topic I felt needed to be addressed. I wanted to be a voice for the soldiers and their families who choose not to speak up in their defence against people like this. Whether or not Mr Lexington reads this is a another story.
Who am I and what are my qualifications to do this? I am an American woman who was married to an American soldier that served 2 tours in the Middle East. I also have had numerous family members and ancestors who’ve served in the military. Not to mention the numerous friends who have or currently do serve this country and the numerous friends who are and have been married to a soldier.
I open this by saying that this piece is precisely why many people don’t trust news outlets in all forms these days.
The first glaringly inaccurate statement is, “In 1990, 40% of young Americans had a military veteran for a parent; in 2014 only 16% did.” While those figures may be true, did it occur to this author that the reason for the drop is because 1) the draft had been in effect from 1940 – 1973 which was during the times of war? 2) also the world, as a whole, has been at peace for the most part over the last 40 – 50 years.
WWII was from September 1, 1939 to September 2, 1945, the Vietnam War was from November 1, 1955 to April 30, 1975, and the Korean War Conflict was from June 25, 1950 – July 27, 1953. In 1940 the Selective Training and Service Act was enacted and was the country’s first peacetime draft. According to Wikipedia, “From 1940 until 1973, during both peacetime and periods of conflict, men were drafted to fill vacancies in the United States Armed Forces that could not be filled through voluntary means.” Since that time, of course fewer and fewer soldier were needed. Is it any wonder the stats this author noted were significantly less in the 24 year span?
“…many see their service primarily as a way to make a living.”
From the Go Army website, the rate of pay depends on your experience. Basic pay(not including bonuses, allowances and other benefits) is as follows and increases as you climb in rank and years of experience;
- Private (E1)
- <2 Years Experience – $19,198.80
- 4 Years Experience – $19,198.80
- 6 Years Experience – $19,198.80
- Private (E2)
- <2 Years Experience – $21,520.80
- 4 Years Experience – $21,520.80
- 6 Years Experience – $21,520.80
- Private First Class(E3)
- <2 Years Experience – $22,629.60
- 4 Years Experience – $25,509.60
- 6 Years Experience – $25,509.60
- Specialist or Corporal(E4)
- <2 Years Experience – $25,066.80
- 4 Years Experience – $29,185.20
- 6 Years Experience – $30,427.20
- Sergeant (E5)
- <2 Years Experience – $27,338.40
- 4 Years Experience – $32,029.20
- 6 Years Experience – $34,279.20
- Staff Sergeant (E6)
- <2 Years Experience – $29,840.40
- 4 Years Experience – $35,697.60
- 6 Years Experience – $37,166.40
Yes, there are more levels but they are more administration personnel. As you see, to start out, as a Private(or an E1) is $19,200 per year. That’s roughly $9.23 per 40 hours or close to minimum wage depending on where one lives. Now if this Economist understands American economy, he would know that’s barely enough, depending on where one lives, to get by on. To get to Staff Sergeant level and higher, a soldier has to do a lot of physical and educational work.
I know this because when my (now ex)husband and I reconnected after his first tour he was an E2 Private. When we divorced nearly 10 years later, he had only gotten to Staff Sergeant(E6) status. In that time he put in an awful lot of work. Many nights after working an 8 hour day he was on the computer for about another 5 hours working to move up the ranks. Even tho he was in the National Guard(a part time version of the Army), this was not enough to sustain a new family living in a fixer upper home with a mortgage. He needed to work a full time job and even that was barely enough. The ones who use “…their service primarily as a way to make a living” are much higher up the ranks and even they aren’t rolling in the money as this author makes it sound.
As for the thank you letters from the “beloved chumps” back home. While many children may not be able to fully grasp what a soldier’s life is like, most teachers explain what they do, which for the younger children is what they can understand. They keep us safe and protect our way of living in a free society. An American soldier sacrifices more than anyone and asks for nothing, I repeat NOTHING, in return.
When my (now ex)husband got his gear after his first deployment, I helped him unpack it. As I went thru his stuff, I found a large envelope. Inside that envelope I found numerous cards by children of all ages. Children he never met. Each one had their own unscripted message to a soldier they didn’t know.
On his 2nd tour he received small handful decorated pillows that were also made for a soldier they never met. That soldier who was a stranger to them treasured every pillow, every card he had. That soldier, who fed hungry children in the Middle East, laid down his life for his family, his country and his friends.
That soldier deployed the first time as part of a hodge podge sort of deployment. He didn’t go with his comrades that he trained with. He went with others who were plucked from their units across the state. When it was his unit’s turn, he didn’t have to go. He went because he knew what they were going to be facing over there. He had the experience and he wanted to be there to protect his friends. One would think that feeling the breeze of an RPG flying past you or watching a suicide bomber blow himself up in front of you would be enough to give a soldier pause, but no, not that soldier or the countless others like him.
I have never in my life come across a service member who “…accepted the sentiment unblushingly.” or “need(ed) to feel appreciated.” Every one of them humbly accepted the expression of gratitude they were given.
Do Americans look at our military men and women with rose colored glasses? You bet! We know we couldn’t do what they do or go thru what they go thru to protect family and strangers alike. We couldn’t lose a limb or our minds for those who love us and those who hate us and still carry on in life. Mr Lexington, could you?
First Thought for the day: Before believing wholeheartedly what a writer writes, be sure that writer hasn’t putative spin on their topic. Fact check their information with multiple and reliable sources. There way to much fake news and misinformation out there.
Final Thought for the day: My sincere gratitude to all service members and their families past, present and future. I don’t look at you with rose colored glasses nor do I put you on a pedestal but I do look at you with gratitude for what you sacrifice for my family and friends.
***Please be sure to read more of my posts