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What If Veterans Told Their Children the Truth?


By davidswanson - Posted on 30 October 2011

What struck me in reading Cville Weekly's excellent new profile of an Afghanistan War veteran, and in writing this profile of another Army veteran who never made it into (foreign) combat, is how many times I've heard the same story.  Kids grow up admiring their parents' and grandparents' military "service," then join the military, and then afterwards find out how traumatic and horrific their family members' experiences were.  What if veterans told their kids the truth early on, in an age-appropriate manner as their children grew up?  Some studies say a majority of recruits are from military families.  What if those potential recruits had known the truth prior to having to learn it first-hand?

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I served for 21 years - most of it in the Reserves and Guard, but got out as soon as Bush announced his Candidacy for President.

My Father served. I joined to just get out of the house and experience something new.

My children are ready to graduate from High School. They are interested in joining the military. I was a Navy Corpsman, a Medical Service Specialist and a Flight Medic. I've let them know exactly what the military is all about. The good and the bad.

I've tried to guide them towards a career that will allow them to receive really good training yet minimize their being stationed in combat zones.

They don't believe that it is like "Top Gun" or "Stripes" or other movies that glorify the service yet ignore the trauma. They know what it really is.

The same arguement could be made for parents who went to college and only glorified the "good" parts. It isn't a party, and it's harder than High School. Yet how many kids party every weekend and can't wait for spring break - thinking that their grades aren't important?

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