Calming parents about active duty


10-Year Member
Aug 11, 2006
West Point is becoming an increasingly realistic prospect for me, and my parents are becoming increasingly concerned. I'm asking this to assuage my father's fears: He is under the impression that was an officer, regardless of my branch, I'll be intentionally ordered to fight/go on patrol/etc. I understand that in Iraq (even though we're supposed to be out by 2010) anybody who drives somewhere can be in a violent situation. But do soldiers who branch, say, finance (not my dream right now) get sent on patrol or anything like that? I know that artillery (though that's a combat branch) guys get sent on patrol in Iraq like infantary.

I really just want to be able to tell him that I could graduate from USMA and potentially avoid unusual danger. If my parents knew that was a possibility (is it?), they might be a little more accepting of my decision.
If you're looking to avoid danger, you're looking at the wrong school.
I'm definitely not an expert but I remember someone from church who was enlisted in the army and was deployed to Iraq saying that finance/payroll/money convoys are targeted, as well.
Eveyone in Iraq is in danger - a young woman from our area was a 22 year old Sgt who ran a dining hall. An IED got her in October.

Look just tell your father you could be hit by a bus, or taken out by a drunk driver. There is a risk in everything you do in life, you can't stop living.

On the other hand I can see where he is coming from. Everytime I hear of a young life lost I look at my young daughter and wonder if she really really knows. She says she does but at 17 how can you really? Sometimes as a parent it makes me want to cry. Give your dad a hug and ask him to support you- he is natrually afraid but I am willing to bet he will support you and be proud of you.

She was at an interview with our senator's review board yesterday. As her father and I were waiting for her a staffer walked by and waiting for the elevator, asked if she was our daughter. We replied she was. He said he had a few words with her and thought she would do well. Then said it is a remarkable thing these young kids are willing to do, to offer to serve. Told us we should be very proud and we had done a fine job raising her.

So, Harrison, right now your Dad sees you and his love for you and the potential for danger. That is natural. Reassure him that he has raised you well, you are OK with the risks and that there are risks everywhere in life, not just Iraq.

Also, no one should even consider basing their decsion to attend an academy on the basis that we have a plan/or might be out of Iraq by the time they are commissioned. 4 years is a long way away and if we aren't in Iraq we very well may be somewhere else.
It is normal for your parents to be concerned, they love you, but they need to remember it is your life to live not theirs.

I am proud that my son is choosing to be in the Army and is willing to serve his country, but of course I think about the danger often. My husband and I have talked about it several times. What it comes down to is this; we raised him to believe he could be anything he wants to be and if he wants to be a soldier then we will support him. Twenty three years ago my father-in-law talked my husband out of the MOS he wanted when he joined the Army and to this day, my husband regrets not doing what he wanted, instead of what his Dad wanted. My husband swore he would never do that to any of his children. This is hard for me to say (I am about to cry) but I would rather have my son be happy and live his dream for 10 years than be unhappy with his life for 100 years.

If you are trying to pick a branch based on danger level you shouldn’t join the military. We are fighting a different kind of war now. There is no “front line” like there used to be. JMO
DMeix said:
If you're looking to avoid danger, you're looking at the wrong school.

Heh-heh. Funny how those of us in or formerly in uniform think the same way. :thumb:

I agree 100% with DMeix. While I certainly empathize with your father's concerns (my parents had them, and I served in peacetime, for pity's sake!), the fact remains that you are choosing to go into the Armed Forces, and that means you have a pretty good shot of being in places with people who want to send you home in a plastic bag.

All I can recommend is reassuring your father that a) you are going into this with your eyes wide open, b) you're an adult now, making adult decisions, c) four years is a long time for things to change in the world, d) you will be getting the finest equipment and training money can buy, e) that despite the utterly slanted news coverage, the casualty rate today is far lower than it was in past conflicts, and finally f) that if you look at it, the chances of your ticket being punched is not that great.

Hope that helps.
I have been at both ends of this. My mom actually went down to Ga Tech and signed me up for classes. They thought I was coming until I didn't answer roll call the first day of classes. By youngster year, she had forgotten all about it and was a true Naval Academy mom.

When my son wanted to go to the Academy I questioned him a length to ensure he was applying for the right reasons. Ever since he was six years old, all he has ever wanted to do was be an astronaut. I wasn't sure that he was not looking at the Navy as a mere stepping stone to his ultimate goal. He halfway convinced me that he wanted a military career. By his youngster year, I was a confirmed Naval Academy dad.

The night the Iraqi war started and CNN was showing the first Navy launch off the Abraham Lincoln and I knew that it was him in the F-14 that was headed for downtown Baghdad, I, again, did some serious soul searching. When he became a test pilot and started talking about how neat it was to push the known limits and take aircraft where they had never been before, once again I was doing some serious soul searching. I'm sure, when he attains his ultimate goal and is sitting on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral, I will again do the same.
Each time, like WAMom68, I rationalize that he is doing exactly what he wants, what 99.9% of his contemporaries would love to be doing, and what I, myself, would be doing if I were his age and had his qualifications.

It's probably the most difficult thing one can do as a parent, but we have to let go and allow them to live their dream, and support them every way we are able.
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Thank you all for your input. It's comforting to see that some of you have gone through this too.

Don't think I have any illusions about what soldiers do. While I don't hope for them, I have every idea of the terrible things that could happen to me.

I definitely feel like I would regret not going just because my parents didn't want me to. But I realize that I'm making them sacrifice without giving them a choice.
Hopefully they'll see that I can't be discouraged, but they definitely aren't going to let me go without a fight :)
This is something we all deal with at some level. As with any military job, there is risk. We do our best to minimize it. We all try to cover each other. If you had to be in a dangerous situation, who would your father want covering you? I would say the US military.

It is a risk, but we accept it. I can accept it because I know I am serving my country, protecting my buddies, and get to do something exciting (hopefully).
Harrison said:
I definitely feel like I would regret not going just because my parents didn't want me to.

That's just as bad, if not worse, than GOING simply because your parents want you to. Neither way works out in the end.

But I realize that I'm making them sacrifice without giving them a choice.

At the risk of sounding cold, they did that to you for years, and in your best interests. Now the tables turn. It's part of life.

Woe be unto me when my girls get older and my actions come back around to bite me! :frown:

but they definitely aren't going to let me go without a fight :)

They have no right to make you have to fight them over this. This is YOUR career and future you're dealing with, and while I can certainly understand their concerns, if they make this too difficult they may wake up and discover one day that their kid is gone in more ways than one. I've seen it happen.

I've never understood the animosity. It's not like you're applying to the local community college for a degree in basketweaving, for heaven's sake. :confused:
I can think of no easier and faster way to educate your parents and yourself about what West Point is about than by watching the excellent PBS DVD entitled, "West Point, the first 200 years". You can order it from Amazon for less than $18; it will be the best bang for the buck you'll ever get. Here's the link and description:

After you and your folks have watched the video you'll both have a much better understanding of why West Point is unique, what it does, and what life is like there. You might find your parents are much more supportative once they understand the tremendous past, present, and future significance of the place. Good luck!
DMeix said:
If you're looking to avoid danger, you're looking at the wrong school.

/thread. You should be more worried if your parents were not concerned.