Why doesn't the military celebrate its former members' accomplishments more?

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by goaliedad, Nov 26, 2013.

  1. goaliedad

    goaliedad Parent

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    I was reading the following:

    http://news.yahoo.com/man-no-fear-trying-catch-woman-stadium-022841816--spt.html

    when I began wondering...

    I see lots of military promotional material promoting what someone becomes once they don the uniform, but not a lot of material about what that experience does to influence someone for a lifetime.

    This man has been out of the Marines for a long time, but I'm pretty sure his putting his own personal safety in immediate danger wasn't something that comes naturally to most without being trained to put the safety of others first. He isn't the first hero of this type, but for some reason the military can't seem to put this idea that they create "better people for a life time" out there to promote both enlistment and their continued funding as a social good.

    Yeah, I guess most parents (or the kids themselves) aren't thinking about what their kids will do when the kid is 61 and facing a suicidal person leaping off a high place, but the concept of a long lasting positive effect is very important - more than just getting a start to a career or whatever they are selling these days.

    This is a "soft sell" that seems to be missing in the longer term promotion of the military on all levels.

    Am I missing something here?
     
  2. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    You're missing the fact that you're 50-ish years old. What resonates with you and what gets the average kid in the door of a recruiting office are very different things.
     
  3. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    You also run the risk of someone saying "Hey, prior employer (whatever service you chose), don't try to steal the spotlight, like you had any part in this."


    Sometimes the service had no part in it, and it's not the service's place to say otherwise.
     
  4. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    If so, we would have to acknowledge misconducts of former members.

    Had a classmate of mine arrested for paying someone to kill his ex wife.
     
  5. goaliedad

    goaliedad Parent

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    Victory has 1000 fathers... What is wrong with 1001?

    If you are going to take the blame for the failures, (justified or not) why not get credit for the success?
     
  6. goaliedad

    goaliedad Parent

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    A lot of us 50-ish guys have teen-ish kids who could use some more motivation to get our kid in that recruiting office...

    Yeah, I want to see my kid get some skills to get the next job (what the military is selling), but the parents of this generation of teenagers sometimes forget is that the military is what made their own fathers solid citizens.

    The message is "What do so many of our great citizens have in common? They learned service to their community and fellow man while serving their country." When you see the veterans of so many wars (and times lacking conflict) doing so much for their fellow man, it is hard to be critical of the institution. While the association = causality is a weak argument, it sells a lot worse things.

    I know you understand but are just playing the devil's advocate here. I suspect so many (on the inside) just assume that people understand the concept that this great institution is great because it has positively affected so many people. This 50-ish parent didn't grow up with a dad who talked about his time in Korea (very typical for that war and even for WWII vets). My FIL also never talked about his military time in Korea - at least until well after my daughter got the military bug (independently of any of us). I came into the whole "military" discussion (which she started) agnostic on it. My interest was more of wanting her to find something productive to do. I've since become more educated on the impact our military as an institution has had on our society since that time. I don't think mine is an uncommon experience. Fortunately, I was agnostic. Had I been antagonistic, the outcome could have been different. Many of my generation grew up seeing the negative effects of military experience on Vietnam era vets. And they can be antagonistic towards the idea of a military career.

    Yeah, mine is but one experience from the outside. I was just wondering if others (who didn't grow up on the inside) had the same kind of experience.
     
  7. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    Don't know if I have the same experience of the institution. Perhaps I just never thought about it in that regard. But I do know, the people I know who have served are among the finest human beings I have ever met. And the era they served didn't seem to matter. Buck Privates up to Navy Admirals they would all go out of their way for others, were always gracious, always served the community, while working hard to provide for their own families as best they could.
     
  8. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    You're incorrect. Their fathers were solid citizens, and they're what made the military.
     
  9. goaliedad

    goaliedad Parent

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    We travel in different circles, my friend. I grew up on a street with plenty of adults of the age to have served in WWII or Korea. Many model citizens, but to a man, they never discussed their military years, nor had any public display of having served. In hindsight, I suspect that their military experience probably shaped their character, but I had no direct clue growing up to this relationship.

    In my adult life, I actually worked for a company that had a reputation for hiring many vets, but didn't work with too many of them myself (was specific to the particular locations I worked at). And those were of the Vietnam Era. They talked of their experience more, but not in terms that were necessarily favorable to the image of the military as a developer of people. Looking back, I don't think these folks had the same broader perspective of what the military actually did for their lives, as they probably hadn't gotten to that point where they look back on the positives of that experience. It was Uncle Sam who had disrupted their lives through the draft and then going to school afterwards with a bunch of "kids" (not realizing that they grew up in the military) because they missed out on those years.

    And yes, your experience with vets, associating their citizenship with their service is the desired outcome here. I don't think you can drive that message home enough, as some of us didn't get the same experience and make that same connection.

    And these days, with the news stories about vets having problems readjusting to civilian life (certainly understandable), it is always good to hear the positive stories. The military goes a long way to apologize for the lack of VA support, etc., but what about going on the offensive about those who came back and did well as a result of their experience?
     
  10. goaliedad

    goaliedad Parent

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    Chicken/Egg.
     
  11. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    No, it's not. Not even close. You speak of the military like it's some special machine into which people are fed and they pop out as great citizens on the other end. That could not be farther from reality. The military is nothing more than the collective efforts of people, shaped by leadership. Out military stays excellent because we bring in excellence. It got excellent because great citizens joined in the 20th century and brought with them the ethos that shapes who we are now. The people made the military. One need only to look at militaries around the world to find proof of that.
     
  12. goaliedad

    goaliedad Parent

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    Disagree.

    We bring in young people, including officers (leaders) (90% <24 years of age) who have the potential for excellence. There are few young people who have truly achieved excellence in their lives despite how much we think of our children.

    Together they have built themselves into something greater than the sum of their parts as citizens. The process is self reinforcing and self perpetuating. That is what the system is. And our system is what makes our military institutions better than some other countries that you allude to. Their shortcomings in their institutional structures and practices can defeat the best of individuals coming into the institution.

    It takes quality input PLUS an institutional history (great founders help here) to create an institution that adds value to both their product and their participants. This is also true in great private enterprises. Leadership is a cooperative effort, the cooperation being the thing that defines the institution. You see this in sports coaching "trees" (assistants of great coaches going onto success in other franchises). You see this in corporations that seem to spin off a long list of leaders to other corporations. And I see this in our military.

    Bottom line - a shared struggle (developed by the inputs) hardens good inputs into more successful outputs. You need the institution to add greatness to good inputs.
     
  13. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Many were drafted and many volunteered. I won't get in to what I think of labelling a group of people as "the greatest generation" but I will say that many of them saw the U.S. become a true power, and worked through a number of major crises. Their children had it easier, and in my opinion, felt entitled to the prosperity they benefitted from.

    That said, it's not the military's role to claim "we had a role in that".... because someone is very likely to say "no you didn't."

    On top of that, having been a PAO, I know the military piles on its stars. Save a kid from a burning vehicle, no matter if it had to do with some internal compass or your training, you will be invited to every big event, go to ever dinner, every sporting event, etc. And I know, that gets very old for the service member.
     
  14. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    You're talking yourself in circles. There is no such thing as "the military" as an institution. What there is is a few hundred thousand people working toward goals. We are an excellent military because, by and large, we being in exceptional people and expose them to other excellent people, and we all work within an ethos. By your theory, you could bring in a gaggle of garbage and turn them into exceptional citizens. That is not the case. Far from it, and it's a lesson we re-learn every 20 years or so.

    You probably know more about the military and its people than I do. I must be way off the mark.
     
  15. goaliedad

    goaliedad Parent

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    I guess you like the sport of toying with me. When I talk of the "military" as an institution (which you did in the last sentence of your post), I talk of the individual services as a collective, so as not to start a shouting match because I left of the Merchant Marine or somebody else...

    Not talking in circles. There are just some behaviors in organizational development that are self-reinforcing. People behave more consistently in a selfless manner when exposed to others who do so. This applies to good and bad behaviors, your gaggle of garbage (behaving in selfish manner) will end up stinking even more.

    I hope we can agree that the act of bringing people with common traits of leadership (service to the organization above self), reinforces those traits over time and makes each individual component stronger in those traits after they leave. However, without the institution (or other similar institutions), these individuals would not grow in the same manner. To that end I suggest that the institution bears much of the credit and doesn't seem to take as much credit as is due.

    And I'm not buying the Americans being an exceptional people, if that is what you are saying. Can't be explained through biology, genetics, or nutrition last I checked. And quite frankly, most exceptional people don't think of themselves in that term. Those would be egotistical people. We Americans have some exceptional institutions (both good and bad) and have evolved as a society differently than much of the world. We'd like to think of ourselves as better (sure makes us feel good, doesn't it). However, it is that very act of feeling good about ourselves that is the enemy of our evolution as a people. Patting yourself on the back is the first step towards complacency which is the end of progress. It is OK to look back a long way (in time) and say that we've come a long way, but to say we've made it says that the journey is over and that is not what perpetuates excellence. An exceptional people is something that is worked upon every day and is never satisfied with what it is.
     
  16. Chockstock

    Chockstock "Forever One Team"

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    Great observation
     

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