Over 181,000 people joined the U.S. military during the fiscal 2007 recruiting year. This is more than joined the military during fiscal years 2006 and 2005. All four of the services met or exceeded their recruiting goals for 2007, as did four of the six reserve components.
Why are all these people joining the military? Why, in spite of multiple duty tours, ever-increasing deployment terms, an increase in sexual assaults, post-traumatic stress disorder, the breakup of military families, and the suicide rate, and almost daily reports of U.S. military personnel being killed or maimed in Iraq, are so many men and women joining the military?
It could have something to do with the military:
- Spending over $4 billion a year on recruiting
- Raising the maximum enlistment age
- Accepting lower entrance scores on aptitude tests
- Granting more medical waivers
- Giving more moral waivers
- Permitting ex-convicts to enlist
- Relaxing the physical fitness requirements
- Loosening weight restrictions
- Allowing non-citizens to gain their citizenship after one year of active duty
But it could also have to do with the military:
- Giving enlistment bonuses
- Providing tuition assistance
- Granting educational allowances
- Assisting with student loan repayment
- Offering assignment incentive pay
Then there is the career training, the world travel, the thirty days of vacation every year, and the free medical and dental care. And who can forget the GI Bill, VA loans, and the generous retirement benefits.
After the September 11th terrorist attacks, many people joined the military because they believed the president when he said: “Freedom was attacked, freedom will be defended.” Others, ignorant of the blowback we reaped after decades of an interventionist foreign policy, joined the military because they thought they were actually going to take part in defending the United States against unjust aggression. Some actually supposed that by joining the military they were participating in a religious crusade against Islamofacism.
But what about now? After almost five years of needless destruction, senseless deaths, and billions of wasted dollars, after all the lies of the Bush administration have been exposed, after the principle of “blowback” has been thoroughly explained and proved, after the genocide that the Iraq War has become — why do American men and women continue to join the U.S. military?
There are some things that they know. They know that they may be put in harm’s way. They know that being deployed will take a toll on their family. They know that they may be put into a situation where they will have to kill or be killed. They know that there is no end in sight to the war.
There are also some things that they may not know but should. They should know that many generals with much more military knowledge and experience than any recruiter they know have denounced this war. They should know that by joining the military they are helping to carry out the foreign policy of an evil empire that stirs up strife and creates terrorists. They should know that the military does very little to actually defend the country. They should know that if they die fighting in Iraq that it will be for a lie.
So why do thousands of people continue to join the military? In most cases, the decision is a financial one — just like the decision to sell crack or become a prostitute. But until joining the military receives the same stigma as those activities, enlistments will continue. Because we are in the middle of an unpopular war, because there is no draft, and because the majority of people who join today’s military do so for financial reasons, the conclusion is inescapable: They are mercenaries, they are contract killers — they are killers for hire. “The love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10).