negative reaction with applying to s.a.

Discussion in 'Service Academy Parents' started by Vista123, May 6, 2012.

  1. Vista123

    Vista123 Member

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    We had a slew of first communion parties this weekend. My son who is applying to a service academy had his fist experience of push back when asked his college plan. (this was NOT from close or even extended family-all family members have been supportive). He got a lot of "I don't beleive in war so you shouldn't apply to...." from family friends and neighbors. He just smiled and nodded (he is not a big talker) and just said that he was looking forward to the opportunity and hoped to get in and then wandered off to shoot baskets with the other teenagers. I was a bit taken aback and didn't know how to respond (other than to pour myself a glass of wine). These are VERY kind people and I dont want to get up in their faces, yet I dont want my son to feel bad about his convictions. Can anyone share their experiences and provide tips and suggestions on appropriate ways to respond?
     
  2. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    U aren't the first to get that kind of pushback. When people hear I'm retired air force or that my son is at the academy, and they give me that kumbaya stuff, I smile. Then i tell them that I don't like war either. But there are those in the world that cherish war. And they'd love to force our people into war and change our way of life. That's why we have a military. To defend our way of life and to help allies when someone tries to harm them.

    And don't forget to remind them that if it wasn't for our men and women who volunteer to be in the military and risk their lives, there's a good chance that they wouldnt be celebrating communion. I've been to countries where u aren't allowed to have freedom of religion, speech, or information. Even the internet is censored.
     
  3. FlyBoy1993

    FlyBoy1993 Member

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    If it is what your son wants to pursue, and he believes serving his country is a noble, righteous cause; then it is up to him. Service academies are an incredible educational opportunity, both academically and life-experience wise.

    I had this discussion with our DS- "If you are not ready to stand behind the decision of serving your country, if the detractors bother you, then maybe you are not cut out for the military. Nobody but you knows that. You might get laughed at, teased, threatened, or even assaulted; but in the grand scheme of things, is the responsibility of being a Soldier/Airman/Sailor/ Marine what you want? Those obstacles pale in comparison with what you will face as a leader of fighting men and women. They also are little more than a butt pimple when compared to the honor and pride gained from serving.

    Be honest with yourself and ask what matters most to you...

    As far as how I would have responded, this jarhead( enlisted) would have told the 'friends" that we support our son's decision to pursue military service. If they didn't respect that, then I would probably make some remark questioning their status as a vertebrate being. Then the wine would flow...
     
  4. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012

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    When I was a senior in high school many moons (okay, like 4 years) ago, I got a fair amount of confused and sometimes negative responses from a lot of my peers. I went to a fairly good private school, and going into the military was thought to be "beneath" what kids there were supposed to do.
    They also just didn't "get" it: most people didn't realize that going to USNA meant going to college (and one that's not too shabby, at that), they thought it meant I was going to Iraq like three months after graduation. Even if I was enlisting and going off to war, their understanding of the military was extremely limited at best. So, whenever possible, I did the good future MIDN thing and calmly explained the whole process and why I thought that going to USNA/being in the military was something worth doing.
    I got other, more negative remarks too ("So you want to kill people?"). I pretty much brushed it off because, hey, whatever. And now I have an awesome, decently-paying, wicked cool job after graduation and, judging by my HS classmates' facebook statuses, they don't, so win for me.

    I thought my parents--who were definitely NOT thrilled with the whole daughter-going-to-service-academy-thing--handled it great with other parents.* They were questioned multiple times by other parents, including concerned parents of some very close friends, about how they could "let" me go to USNA. Again, a lot of this was out of ignorance.
    Their response was generally "She's 18, so it's her choice. Even if we wanted to stop her, we couldn't, so instead we support her decision and can't wait to see her go on and succeed in this next stage of her journey." (Succeed is a relative term)

    *They're great. Seriously, if I came home and said I was dropping out of the Academy and wanted to clean toilets for a living, they'd wince, briefly complain, and then grit their teeth and support me 100%.
     
  5. NavalOdyssey2016

    NavalOdyssey2016 Member

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    I hate how ignorant people are about the military and wanting to "go out and kill people", yes there are a few but the majority do not. I find the best thing to do is smile and go on with your life because it's your choice. General Douglas MacArthur has a FANTASTIC quote that reads, "The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war."
     
  6. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    When people say "I don't believe in war" I always answer with "oh, you mean you don't think it exists?" It's such a simple response but it always puts them on the defensive. Easy and fun!
     
  7. SimpleMan

    SimpleMan Member

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    I've gotten a few disparaging responses over the past year and a half as I went through this process. Everything from

    • "Oh well, college isn't for everyone... I'm sure you'll do fine in the Army"
    • "But you got into <insert the names of a few top-25 colleges here>. Why would you want to go to West Point?"
    • "So you favor warfare?".

    To the first one I just nodded sympathetically at the person since they were one of my teachers and clearly and sadly out of touch with reality.

    To the second one I played the Forbes magazine West Point #1 ranking card (unseemly, but appropriate to quell a status monger's inquiry). I know they Googled it because they mentioned it next time I saw them and said "Awesome! Good luck!"

    To the third one I tried to be polite and extricate from the conversation, but it was an older woman at a church event that I was somewhat trapped at and she basically sought me out again to start the conversation a couple of times, becoming more strident in her tone. I finally said "Actually, ma'am, if anyone is against the existence of war it is the soldier, since they in many cases have the most to lose. It seems to me I can sit here in this town and complain in abstract terms about the state of the world, or I can take concrete steps to help make it better. You know our church places the concept of 'service' in high esteem. Mine is a solid commitment to service. In fact, that's why it is called "The Service". And if helping to build schools and deliver water to villagers ravaged by local thugs is reprehensible to you, then I apologize." She wandered away. Not sure if she felt I was out of line, or impudent, or if she saw that maybe there was something in the gray area between the black and white terms she had framed things in. I see her at church each week and she avoids eye contact, which I find unfortunate, but I'd like to think she felt somewhat ashamed of having taken things to that place.

    In general you are not going to change anyone's mind on how they feel about your service if they are locked in on their opinion. But I don't think you should necessarily feel bad about responding in a calm and reasoned manner if they won't let it go. Just my take...

    P.S. to:
    I wish I had this quote in hand for my third one. MacArthur said it better. :)
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2012
  8. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    Great quote from MacArthur and I agree 100%. I am from a very small liberal town and no one knew what the Naval Academy was. They all thought I had enlisted in the Navy. I, and I think alot of folks, have had similiar confrontations. I think your son dealt with it well for a young 17 year old looking at pursuing the SA path. Trust me, as a former Marine officer who saw it all over in Iraq and Afghanistan, no one wants peace more than those in uniform. And the honest truth, the majority of the missions the military does is peace keeping missions, providing humanitarian aid, and operations other than war. Even in the currents wars, this is what our forces are doing day in and day out. That aspect is often overshadowed.

    I remember flying home after my tour in Iraq and a woman started talking to me. She went on to brag about her DS going to a very liberal boarding school not far from where I grew up. She said, "My child will never join the military." I remember sort of laughing and smiliing and then stating, "Well I guess that will be his decision to make down the road. I had my choice of colleges to include the Ivies, but I chose the Naval Academy and I chose to be a Marine. No one forced me, I had options, but I would never change a thing. I hope you take a minute to remember that you and elitist family have these options because of the amazing service members I have the opportunity to lead on a daily basis." She didn't know what to say and just got up and moved. I smiled at her and told her to have a great day. I have to admit it was fun!
     
  9. JMS

    JMS Member

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    Interesting thread... My son is at the start of all this (hopeful for 2017) and has had lots of opportunities to tell people about his academy hopes. So far have not had any negative reactions. We are in a place where all the branches have a pretty big foot print, and that may be part of it, but even with extended family/friends all over the country, all the reactions I am aware of have been positive, or, at worst, something like 'boy that is a tough place to get into.' Even those whom I think of as 'pacifists' seem to understand that there are buffoons in the world that need to be corralled.
    In any event, the negative people will be there in any career. Just don't let them rent space in your head.
     
  10. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    Graduating Student in my daughter's class to parent. How come she gets a presentation from a guy in a white suit giving her a scholarship? I got a lot of scholarships and I didn't go up on stage. Most of them just don't understand.
     
  11. debcst

    debcst Member

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    Vista, where do you live?

    We live in a liberal midWestern university town with no military presence to speak of for hundreds of miles. Very few in our town have anything to do with any branch of the military. We find ourselves in a position to (gently) inform a lot of people about the service academies.

    Perhaps it is similar for you- people just don't know anything about this.
     
  12. mellowgator

    mellowgator Member

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    most people are surprised to hear my dd is going to west point. they don't see her as a soldier. but most people don't know my dd like i do.

    she loves to run. during xc season she got up every day to run at 5am. every summer i sent her to camp in north carolina and she loved the camping and hikes. she also was very concerned that she'd get a roommate who stayed up late and wasn't serious about school.

    i think the military will be a great fit for her and i couldn't be prouder. but it is hard to hear my own mother telling me there's no way my dd will make it. i have to admit i never thought she'd get in. but as she passed each hurdle i began to believe in her more and more.

    her coaches have been wonderful and after experiencing junior weekend and her official visit i'm certain she found the right fit. the heck with all the naysayers.
     
  13. pilot2b

    pilot2b Candidate Appointee

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    I've been fairly quiet about applying and getting appointed to the Academies, partly because I wanted to avoid the potential negative reactions that others have encountered. My family and close friends were very supportive however.

    A number of casual friends at school knew I was doing something related to the military after high school yet didn't totally understand the whole college vs. enlisting concept when they asked for an explanation. Since I'm in a rather liberal area of the country, this sometimes didn't go very well. Recently, a bullitan board with the names of selected seniors who were awarded various scholarships and the amounts was set up in school. It definitely dropped some jaws when they saw the amounts listed beside my name. :yllol:
     
  14. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    I can remember last year when my son was sitting in our living room with a few of his friends talking about college. My son explained that hew was going to school with a 4 year Army Scholarship. His friends asked him what he had to do for for the Army in rethurn for the scholarship, he explained that he would be required to serve in the Army for a minimum of 4 years AD. The other kids looked at him and said that it was really to bad that he would not be able to have a job for 4 years and would have to enter the work force in 4 years far behind them becauses they would be working.

    My son laughed and had to explain to them that he would be getting paid when he entered AD and that he would leave the service with 4 years of management experience. When they asked him how much he would be paid he just told them to google it, it's not a secret, they were suprised.

    As I listened to this conversation it amazed me at how little some people know about the military. All of a sudden these kids were began to talk about what a great opportunity it was.
     
  15. singaporemom

    singaporemom Member

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    We have a no free speech zone when in my home. If they want to criticize my sons' choices, they are asked to refrain...which they always object to. I state that in my home I am the MOTHER of two young men who will be fighting for their freedom, and could pay the ultimate sacrifice for their children who have chosen an easier path. They may take their comments elsewhere.

    Outside of the home, when they start their kumbaya crap, I thank them for paying for my children's education. That makes them mad.

    When they make it seem like my kid couldn't get in anywhere else, and settled for the Navy Academy, and we HAD to choose the free ride....I state that of the 1.3 million dollars in scholarships that he received, he chose the one that required the greatest service project of all.

    :biggrin:
     
  16. Lynpar

    Lynpar Member

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    Vista, I just hope those same people happen to end up at your high school awards night and your kid is presented with the big check or as in our case the presenter mentioned the estimated value price range of the Academy Appointment along with an explanation of the application process. You could hear a gasp throughout the room. :thumb:

    I wanted to get up do a dramatic fist pump and run around the auditorium and high-five all the moms and dads along the aisles. However I sat there clutching my tissue.

    Side note: Have another parent in the next row operate your video camera for you. You will not be able to operate it properly no matter how many times you have done so in the past. The neighbor mom whose son got accepted to Julliard had the same problem. We should have switched cameras for the awards presentation and then we would both actually have a video.

    Similar short story. My Father was a design engineer for a major weapon manufacturer. He was representing his company at some sort of trade show or fair and a woman came up and gave him the whole warmonger anti-gun spiel. Mind you this was a NATO supplier and not Walmart selling handguns. He calmly told her he understood her position but they had found rubber
    bands and water pistols ineffective against terrorists. :shake:

    It is all a matter ignorance and perspective.

    I can't you how many times I have said " no my son is not at the academy for the Marines". After awhile you just go with it and smile and find you have no need to explain or impress them and certainly not apologize or explain in anyway.

    But boy did I love awards night! Best mom night EVER! :redface:
     
  17. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    With all due respect to parental pride and sensibilities, mostly it's not worth being upset about. It's certainly not worth being petty about and shoving it in peoples' faces. It makes the service academy and military community look bad to say things like "thanks for paying for my kid's education." I hope no one actually would say that to someone. That's not in keeping with the honor and decorum of the Academies and military officership. I understand that people get their feelings hurt when folks don't applaud their hard-working kids' efforts. But petty jabs aren't the answer.

    The world has all types, as you all know. The freedoms we enjoy in America mean that others are under no obligation to respect, honor, or even acknowledge our military. They are free citizens of a free nation, and we cannot demand their respect. We can try to earn it, and we can try educate them on the amazing opportunities the academies and the military offer. Beyond that, it's their choice.

    Cadets and Mids don't fight for anyone's freedom. Sadly, it's been quite awhile since we military folks have really defended American freedom outright. But what we have done is shoulder a heavy burden and borne great responsibility so that our peers are free to live lives of their choosing, just as we have.

    In the long run, those folks aren't worth worrying about. The "big check" or "value of an academy education" at awards night is neat well-deserved, but remember that pride goeth before a fall and many a recipient (including those to whom I've presented such accolades) have failed to fulfill the task. So bask in the joy humbly, and be impressed and let others be quietly impressed. Just remember that it's a beginning, not a victory lap, and the finish line is not assured.

    They say the best revenge is to live well. I'm 30, I've never been unemployed, I've had more amazing experiences than I can recount (and some I legally cannot for at least 25 years), and I make the civilian equivalent of $103,000. Your kids will likely have similar opportunities.

    The opinions of others aren't worth your blood pressure. It all shakes out in the end.
     
  18. EDelahanty

    EDelahanty Member

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    Scout Pilot knocks it out of the park. While the scholarship money is important, especially at a fancy private school, it's secondary. There are plenty of strong ROTC cadets not on scholarship who will become good officers. If you must gloat, do it in private. In ROTC your children develop self-discipline and physical fitness, as well as other invaluable skills in planning, organization, and leadership.

    I remember fuming over the fact that my son would not be recognized at his high school's awards night. I don't know whether or not the event organizers were anti-military, or unfamiliar with the competitive process to win a scholarship, but they weren't interested. As for young Delahanty, he could not have cared less about the accolades. My indignation turned to relief when the Dodmerb DQ's arrived several weeks later.
     
  19. Lynpar

    Lynpar Member

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    Oh sure last two posters take the high road, somebody has to. Nope, I am sticking to my shallow mom moment on MOTHERS DAY !
     
  20. FlyBoy1993

    FlyBoy1993 Member

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    Candor has its place, too. Bravo, Lynpar...:thumb:
     

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