A meeting was held recently at the Santa Maria Public Library to discuss the presence of military recruiters on the Santa Maria High School campus.
Originally, the meeting was scheduled to be open to the public. At the last minute, it was changed to a closed meeting. The only record of what happened was printed in local newspapers.
The focus of the meeting was to educate on the background of the recruiter on campus. If the reason for the meeting at Shepard Hall was to inform attendees of the background of the recruiter on campus, why wasn’t the recruiter or a representative from the military invited to attend, and why was it closed to the public at the last minute?
I served proudly in the U.S. Army for almost 10 years. I have three children who are currently serving in the Army. Two of my sons have multiple deployments to a combat zone. I have a proud and lengthy history of family members who served in the military. I had 14 uncles who served. I can actually trace my 13 ancestors who came to America from Germany who served during the Revolutionary War. To say it’s a family tradition would be spot-on.
As a former educator, I encouraged all of my students to go to college. We all know the cost of an education today will set a person back a small fortune. Many families start educational funds for their children when they are born. Those who are not as fortunate have to look for other resources to help pay for college. One source potential students look to is a student loan or grant. Depending on which ones they qualify for, many of these have to be paid back. This leads to college graduates having debt when they graduate.
There is a certain population of students who don’t have a desire to attend a four-year college, but are looking for broader opportunities and experiences. That’s serving in our armed forces.
Today, a potential enlistee can have access to the post-9/11 GI Bill, which will pay for their education and give them a stipend to live on. Not only does the military provide an opportunity for someone to get an education paid for, it also teaches someone a skill they can use upon leaving the military. Many people who use the GI Bill do not have any debt upon graduating from college.
The average person who serves in the military is far more mature than their civilian counterpart. A military veteran learns discipline, personnel management skills, critical thinking, time management, financial security and a host of other attributes their civilian contemporary may not have. It is also the military member who through their service protects the right of students, parents, faculty members and nonprofits to hold their meetings in protest of recruiters on school campuses.
Of all of the presidents, 26 served in the military. Throughout the last 243 years, hundreds if not thousands of local, state and national lawmakers served in the military. The vast majority of astronauts who have gone into space were veterans of the military. I think of the explorers who served in the military. Has anyone heard about John Goodenough? He invented the lithium-ion battery. Wilson Greatbatch invented the cardiac pacemaker. Norman Woodland invented the optical scanning barcode. George Westinghouse has a host of patents credited to his name.
Don’t forget the actors and musicians who served in the military. Clark Gable, James Stewart, Ronald Reagan, Audie Murphy, Glenn Miller, Kris Kristopherson, Henry Fonda, Chuck Norris and Elvis Presley.
Serving in the military is an honorable vocation I wish we would respect and revere far more than we do in today’s society.