Yeah, at least you KNOW you are joining or are being invited to join the military.
This means that you can, well in advance of signing up, learn about what you are in for.
Veterans are readily available and will gladly tell you what they've been through--this, before you even sign up. And military veterans are not subject to reprisals or retaliatory lawsuits by telling you what they've been through.
I was in the Army, and served in Iraq for 11 months (OIF3).
Also, I can only talk about Ft. Stewart. This was my first and only duty station in the States. Ft. Stewart (The Rock of the Marne, hooah) has a unique culture unto itself. Now it's no walk in the park and Army culture (for the junior enlisted, anyway) is degrading, demeaning, controlling, and yes there is a lot
of abuse that takes place, mostly by unqualified and poorly trained NCOs.
They once made me pull guard duty, in a 5'X5' OP on top of a building near Sadr City, in the middle of the Iraqi summer, 130 degrees outside and you're in in full battle rattle (you vets know what I am talking about), in four hour shifts going twenty-four hours a day, four on, four off, like that, and I did that for ten weeks. Talk about sleep deprivation and exhaustion and little food and raw fear. Just my battle buddy and me, our radio, binoculars, battle rattle, and a lot of water. Getting shot at sometimes too, drive-bys, an occasional RPG fired at the OP, all that.
I also got to go on Freedom Rest; once I finished my ten weeks in that OP, my COC treated me to a few days R&R in one of Saddam's old palaces in the Green Zone.
Veterans go through a lot. My buddy Lopez got the brains of a man named named Walters literally blown all over his body when a shaped-charge IED removed everything above Walter's neck. Just blew his head clean off, and it removed the left arm of his TC. Walters was driving the Humvee, and Lopez was directly behind Walters. Lopez was covered in Walter's brains and skull and blood. Lopez was so freaked by that incident that he wouldn't speak for a couple of days, even though he got out of it without a scratch. Had some hearing loss, but that's it. After that, the NCOs didn't make Lopez do any more patrols.
I myself used to work in a BAS as a medic and saw a lot of wounded. But I was very fortunate; I only went on a handful of patrols (as my PT scores were never so high, I was used as a backup medic for patrols and only had to go out of the perimeter when we were short-handed) and never saw any major combat or anything. A lot of gory injuries though, mostly on Iraqi civilians.
In abusive religious groups those who leave the fold are usually treated as non-entities and castigated; "shunning" can be a very effective form of social control. In the military, you're not ostracized or anything by those still on active duty if you choose not to re-enlist. Usually, everybody will congratulate you for finishing your contract and getting out honorably. There are no negative consequences, real or implied, for those who choose leave the military.
So I don't consider it a slap in the face, as I certainly do not miss the Army, But is it a cult? No. I knew exactly what I was getting into when I swore in. In fact, compared to what I was expecting (something like the opening section from Full Metal Jacket
with the crazy DI) BCT at Benning was a piece of cake. But when you get out of BCT and AIT, and into your unit, then it's a whole other ball game.
Edited 7 time(s). Last edit at 08/06/2008 05:34AM by zeuszor.