Democrats, especially Joe Biden, like to point out the enormous missed opportunity our country had, post-9/11, to instill a service ethic among Americans. We could have created a stronger AmeriCorps, instead we were told to go shopping. Then we started a unpopular, poorly planned war. John McCain argues that Abu Ghraib and the use of torture has made many young people refuse to even consider the military as a career option. So it’s no wonder that serving in the armed forces — once a class elevator, a path toward education and opportunity — has become a last resort:
In each fiscal year since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, statistics show, the Army has accepted a growing percentage of recruits who do not meet its own minimum fitness standards. The October statistics show that at least 1 of every 5 recruits required a waiver to join the service, leading military analysts to conclude that the Army is lowering standards more than it has in decades.
“The across-the-board lowering of the standards is buying problems in the future,” said John D. Hutson, a retired rear admiral, dean of the Franklin Pierce Law Center, and a former judge advocate general of the Navy. “You are going to have more people getting in trouble, more people washing out” of the service before finishing their tour of duty.
Do we need to add “military service” to the list of jobs “Americans won’t do”?
(Related thought: I tend to think offering people a second chance is another benefit of military service, so I’m not against the criminal waivers discussed in this piece, but the overall lowering of standards means that second chance isn’t worth much.)