I just got informed that my 17 year old son wants to join the National Guard. I knew he had been thinking about joining the military because he wants to go to flight school and fly those cool planes. I wasn't overly concerned about this because I am well aware that most pilots do go this route to get trained. I just figured he would start University and then apply for a ROTC scholorship with the Air Force or Navy. Now out of the blue he comes up with the National Guard, because you can join up at 17 with parental permission. After speaking to the recruiter, I can see some pluses to this because he will be able to get his first two years of University completely paid for, become an officer then transfer to the AIr Force or Navy at the end of 3 years to finish his education on an ROTC scholarship with them while also going through flight school. There is a downside however, once he graduates High School and completes advanced training, if the US continues on the same path that they are on with Afganistan and Iraq and decide to possibly go into Korea or Iran, then he could very easily be snatched out of University to go serve overseas.
So my question for all parents out there, what would you do? In this case Dad has already signed the paperwork, but he cannot join up unless I do as well.
Location: Near Liz's favourite home, Windsor Castle, Berkshire, U.K.
Re: What is a Mom to do
It's very hard being a parent and especially a Mother - I know that well and Mother and Sons always have that special bond.
However, if it is what your son really wants to do, you have to let him go. If you stand in his way, for what I understand are very valid reasons, i.e. his personal safety, he may grow to resent you for it.
Children are only on loan to us and we have to raise them as best as we can whilst they are in our midst so that they can learn to make their own decisions and get on out there in the big wide world.
I know many parents over here in Britain who get angry because once their children have grown they then decide to emigrate to Australia etc - to the other side of the world and the parents think it is wrong. Why, it is their lives and they have to be free to make their own decisions.
As to the future with your country and going to war, who knows. None of us know what is going to happen.
If it is what he wants to do, let him do it, respect his wishes and be proud.
Went through the same thoughts when my son wanted to join. The only problem you have is that when he turns 18, he will do it with or without your support if this is truly what he wants. You can't force them to sign papers (recruiters wont allow it and no child I know of, would let you force them into it), nor can you KEEP them from joining by not signing the papers. When he is 18 he will join anyway.
I was not happy about the war situation but I wanted to support my son's decision. I have receive alot of hate mail and nasty comments since he joined. Been accused of forcing him. (stupid)
He signed up just a few weeks after his 18th birthday, but I would have signed in order to support him. My grandmother told me she went through the same thing with my dad. She signed for him when he was 17 and yes, he went to Vietnam, but he was determined to join, and he would have waited till he was 18 and still ended up there.
Unfortunately, we can't always make our kids life choices, although we would love to sometimes, but we can deffinately support those decisions. My son is going to Iraq in November. No, I am not happy about it, but I know joining the service was HIS choice. I have been asked how I could ALLOW him to join. My answer, "how do you stop an 18 year old from signing those papers?" You don't. Stand by him. He will make that choice and if he has to wait till he is 18 to do it, he will do it without your support. It is such a difficult decision for them to make, and for us to live with, but they do grow up and they make choices, (not always what we want or what others want).
My daughter joined the Air Force (at 17) but doesn't leave till sometime in October (no date yet). My husband's daughter has been in the Navy 6 years and has never been in harms way. My neices husband has been in Iraq twice (he is still there).
My sons orders could change, you never know. Your son may never get sent over, you never know. Love him, support him. I know it's hard, but he will live his life in his way with or without your support.
Seems to me that your fundamental job is to make sure that he understands--as best a 17-year-old can understand--what the fundamental job description is when you join the military. That is, the mission of the outfit you are joining is to go to war. Period. All the rest is simply a means to that end.
Try to get across to him that they will train him to fly and pay for his education not because they are wonderful, altruistic people, but because they need to hire people who will be ready to fight. There's nothing wrong or bad about this, but so many young people are lured by the career opportunities that they lose sight of the core purpose of the organization they're joining.
Our oldest son, who also learned to fly those cool planes and is now an airline pilot, went the civilian route precisely because, in his words, "I understand the real job description in the military, and it's not for me." I asked if he felt the military was fundamentally bad, and he said, "No. Of course not. I simply don't trust the civilians who are calling the shots to make good decisions." Turned out to be prophetic, IMO.
As long as he understands this, then, as KG says, it's pretty much going to be his decision. Let's face it, in a short time he'll be 18 and an adult under the law.
All of the folks above have it 100% correct, and especially CelebrityCruiser. As another one who has "been there, done that" I too went in at 17, and a few years later found myself in Vietnam. I survived, and as stated above, believe that the education, and dicipline have helped me my entire life. I wouldn't trade a minute of my life, and wouldn't change a thing. My parents weren't thrilled about my decision to become a "Marine" at 17, but as stated above, had they not signed, I would have gone in just one year later.
Support him, and watch him grow into someone that you'll no doubt be very proud of.
I have no doubt that Kyle would benefit greatly from the things that he can learn in the military. He is already a good kid which says a lot for him in this day and age. I have known for sometime that he has ambitions to become a pilot, which indicates that military service more than likely would be included in his career path even if he doesn't decide to stay in the military until retirment. My biggest concern is I want to make certain that he finishes school and when I spoke with the recruiter she could not say for certain that this would be the case. Also since he wants to fly planes, I am not exactly sure that the National Guard is the way to go. I think he would be better off to start with the branch of the service that he could go directly into the career path of his choice. I already know that in the National Guard according to the recruiter there is no schooling for someone that wants to go into flight school.
I was specifically talking about high school. Obviously, I would much more prefer that it also included University as well. Now being from Florida, I would love to see him attend Emery Riddle in Daytona, as I know that school has a great reputation for their aviation training.
I will tell him to speak with the Air Guard reps before making any firm decisions. If he follows my advice then I will feel better about his decision.
Tamie, I don't understand your recruiter saying that he couldn't guarantee that your son would finish high school. You need a high school diploma to be accepted into the military. My daughter signed quite some time ago and she graduates next month. I have never heard of such a thing. Call a main office and ask them about this. I can understand if he meant University but not high school.
According to their website:
If you are interested in joining the Air National Guard, you must:
* Be between the ages of 18 and 35 (you can be 17 with a parent's signature).
* You must have a High School diploma, although in some instances GED certificates can be accepted.
* Pass a physical.
* Take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), which will determine career paths available for consideration. To learn how to get a good score on the ASVAB, go to the ASVAB section.
I am a little concerned that the military personnel who posted saying how great an idea this is really skimmed over the down side. They acknowledged the possibility of going to war, but not the possibility of losing your own life or taking the lives of others...... just 'War is a part of life." I am a military brat myself and have seen my dad be sent off to fight just because some civilian politicians decided we "needed to", not because our country was threatened. Not a very good reason to get other peoples' sons killed IMHO. I agree that you cannot keep him from doing this, but as an earlier poster said you must make sure that he knows EXACTLY what may be involved.
Celebrity Cruiser said it all. The military can be a very good thing. We have a son who chose the same path-- to enter the Army instead of college right after high school. I will never forget the day he came home and informed me he had signed up for the Army. I was in in shock..I said the "real Army". I couldn't believe it. My first thought was what was he thinking. We had wanted him to enter college, but we also wanted him to be happy. He made his choice. We supported his decision 100 percent. He spent four years in the Army, and after 9-11 he was sent to Afghanistan. He is now 23 years old and is in college. He wants to be an anesthesiologist. The training and discipline he received in the army has helped him in many ways. He is now a very disciplined college student. It's funny to hear him talk about the immaturity of some of the students in his classes. He kept in touch with many of this teachers from both Intermediate and High School during the time he was in the Army. When he was home on leave, he would go and speak to the students about his experiences in Afghanistan. Our son is an outstanding young man and we are so proud of his accomplishments.
My husband was also in the Army and served in Viet Nam. After returning, he used the
GI Bill which put him through the University of Texas. He has no regrets.
Tami, I know it is so hard. Just support your son he sounds like a wonderful young man. He will make you proud.
I have a question about the ASVAB test. I know I took it when I was in high school. I took it because it meant I got to get out of class for the day but also to get the information that it could provide. However. like the SAT test this to has to have changed. When I took the test it was scored on a percentile basis. So, my lowest score was in the 91st percentile and highest was 99th percentile. So obviously, there were a few recruiters that called me. Now with those kinds of scores one would expect they would be more than happy to talk to me about oppurtunities available to me as an officer and how I could get University training through the military, but NOOOOOO, they actually told me I was not officer material along with telling me that I was not smart enough to even consider going to college. Needless to say since I was taking college courses in high school and making A's and B's in those classes, you can imagine what I had to say to these recruiters. I was not opposed to joining the military before this as I had grown up in a Navy town and thought highly of the military and officers that I knew through my High School friends, which were Navy Brats. Anyway back to my question, what exactly does this test tell the people reading the results?
Libbynan, I am more than aware of the potential consequences of joining the military and the threat of having to go overseas. I have a friend who just got back from Iraq and is suffering traumatic effects from watching someone in his command being killing in front of him. My son has talked about joining the military for sometime now and next year there is absolutely nothing that I will be able to do to stop him. What I am trying to weigh here is if it is best to allow him to go ahead and follow his plan now which will ensure me that he will serve out his first year stateside and only leave him with two more years on his contract with the service instead of 3 or delay his ability to sign the papers now and possibly have him immediately sent overseas right after basic training. I am pretty much resigned to the fact that either way he is going to do this, the question is when. Also, when he joins I want him to get what he wants out of his experience which also means going into the branch of the service which will be able to get him where he wants to go.
Celerity Cruiser, is the ASVAB test given before or after the papers are signed?
When I was speaking to the recruiter I was not wanting to work with any weapons at all. I actually wanted to get into a health science field (not a doctor) so I was more than qualified for what I wanted to do as I did go on to college and get my degree. I would have just prefered to not have to pay those student loans off after graduation.
When your son gets to the stage he is at now, you have to count on the fact that you have instilled him with life skills that will allow him to function in any arena..plus at 17, it looks "cool" to fly those "cool" airplanes
My son graduated from the Air Force Academy and is currently a captain and he gets to fly the "coolest" of all fighters the F-15...He wanted to do that since he was 9 and joined the CAP, worked sweeping out hangers on weekends and studied real hard..
The service has more upsides then down...Yes, my son has been to Iraq several times on rotation and yes his mom and I worry about him, but he's doing what he really wants to do and he is so lucky
As a father, I would say support him but I truly understand your concerns, because his mother had the same concerns, she wanted him to go the non military route and get a job flying for the commercial airlines, but we both our very proud of our son's committment to his country and his self discipline
Make him get an eye test before he signs up. If they find any fault with his eyesight he might not be able to make flight school. I don't envy you that decision. No way would I want my son in the military in any shape or form.
tamie--Pray that he makes the decision that is right for him, pray for his happines, pray for his safe return should he need to go overseas. I do agree with Kuki though that most 17 year olds don't have their lives all figured out.
Just found out Thursday that a great friend at work who is a sargeant in the Army Reserve is leaving on Mother's Day for Iraq.
Hey, my dad served as a recruiter for 5 years....... I know what is said and what is left out. I have no problem with the military, per se, just with the civilians who hold their lives in uncaring hands and have a certain political agenda.
I understand that your son is getting close to 18 when he can do as he likes; but as Kuki pointed out, very few 17-year-olds really know all that much about life and what they want for the long run. By the time he is 18 he may change his mind. I wouldn't want to be in the position of hearing, "Why did you let me do this?" Largely because I HAVE been in that position. What my kids are doing at 35 and 31 has nothing to do with what they wanted at 17.
All I'm saying is be sure he is getting the ENTIRE picture and ALL the information.
I don't have any children but I can offer some perspective from my postition.
I have to agree with Kuki. How many 17 year olds really know what they want as a career? You, being an adult, are better prepared to weigh the risks and rewards of a teenager's decisions.
Flying "cool" planes is not enough of a valid reason, IMO, to join the service. Making the grade in flight school is not easy, they just don't hand out those certifications like handing out high school diplomas.
He can always join when he's 18 if he wants. I'd make him wait.
Thanks for all of your opinions. Kyle started flying planes when he was 14, so I know this is not a passing whim on his part he really does want to fly planes. I know he would like to fly the "cool" planes but if he winds up flying cargo planes he would still be happy. It takes a huge amount of money to go through enough flight school to be able to get a license to fly commercial planes, which being an average family we do not have the means to help him get there.
Yeah, the National goals are rewritten every four years because we have an election every four years and the ones who win rewrite them. And we all know how accurate the intell on Iraq was........ Most people in the military, like my late father, like the structure and the discipline and the travel and take their chances on the conflicts. But when you grow up with it, like I did, you learn early to take a pretty cynical view of the civilian command structure. Thirty-six years after marrying "out", I still think the main trouble with the world is that there are too many civilians..... and politicians.
I think the one major lesson that Vietnam taught this nation was that sensible people learn to separate the war from the warrior. I think it is to our credit that this lesson seems to have stuck, and those in the military who are returning these days don't suffer the sort of rejection that the Vietnam vets did. Even those who think Iraq is as wrong as Vietnam are not taking it out on the fighters. This shows a certain form of national maturity.
That said, please don't feed us the old line claiming that every order from the civilian leadership to fight is a gilt-edged defense of our most critical national interests. That one hasn't passed the smell test for four decades.
And continuing to beat that tired drum--explicitly and implicitly--is one reason military recruitment is a little on the thin side these days.