It still surprises me every time I receive a standing ovation while wearing my uniform in the airport, or whenever someone offers to pick up the check because were simply put “soldiers” I use to feel proud, in fact on my first tour to Iraq I was moved to tears when walking through the airport terminal to begin my tour. The sad truth is that a larger portion of the United States Army deserves no such special treatment.
As I’ve served a tour in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and three years in America I have come to realize that American Soldiers are not as the army puts it “Army Strong”. The definition of a soldier according to Merriam-Webster is “one engaged in military service and especially in the army” while the dictionary definition has remained unchanged a majority of the unspoken qualities have begun to vanish, that is why the definition of a soldier has been changed for me since my enlistment in the U.
S. Army in many ways. Before I joined the Army I imagined millions of highly trained professionals in combat doing their specific jobs while simultaneously destroying all enemies foreign or domestic. Now I see lazy men, women, and young adults who have figured out how to do just enough in the Army to live comfortably without doing any real work. It seems now that soldiers are even coming from Basic Training undertrained, less willing to follow orders, and softer than any before them.
Which to me is no big surprise because of the new nicer Army’s training standards. As Mockenhaupt says “Young people are fatter and weaker. They eat more junk food, watch more television, play more video games, and exercise less. They are more individualistic and less inclined to join the military. ” (3) If soldiers were ever needed to shape up and fly right today is the day their needed with the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, America needs her brightest and best children to answer.
Not the weak and weary. “Today’s soldiers must synthesize more information than any American fighters before them, combining their knowledge of tactics with an awareness of the cultural landscape and an appreciation for the strategic implications of their actions. ” (Mockenhaupt 4) Even after joining the Army I had such high esteem for the Sergeants or Drill Sergeants as I first called them in basic training, the strong professionals who are the proclaimed backbone of the Army.
Although as my military career progressed I met Sergeants who surely must have been in better condition physically and mentally when they were promoted, much to my demise as time went by I saw for myself that getting promoted was nothing more than a good ol’ boys club, the ones who were in positions closest to the highest ranking people in the company always were the first ones promoted despite their capacity for leadership Rocha quoted a combat soldier saying “… e don’t do anything we trained our soldiers to do, … for the most part we look at each other every day and ask the same question which we can never answer: Why are we here? ” (1) Even though the soldier quoted was referring to combat, the same goes across the board no matter what the circumstances.
The soldiers who are now sergeants have changed so much they are no longer capable of training newer soldiers to be proficient in their jobs, or even sure of hat their job is anymore. If this trend is to continue this way, with each generation of soldiers becoming less and less competent, more and more obese, than what’s to stop soldiers from completely destroying themselves, instead of leaders giving horrible answers like the soldier from Rocha’s interview who stated “we make up bullshit answers for our soldiers under us to keep them motivated, but I think they know that I’m lying…. (1) The leaders need to look back to the unprinted definition of a soldier, the definition that made them want to join the service, the definition inscribed on the hearts of all leaders and service members, remembering that their profession is more than just a paycheck. I have laid out some of my reasoning for why the definition of a soldier has changed.
The youth of America’s subtle changes in weight, interest in athletics, Desire to remain individuals rather than be a part of something larger, like the military has all compounded into crushing blows to the quality of young people who join the military. Soldiers have so many ways in which they could change for the better, becoming inspired by the older generations who chose this job because it gave them a certain satisfaction, or looking at their job with a sense of pride rather than just dollar signs. It is my hope that the soldiers I leave my Army to desire to be called soldiers, not just employed.