The Geek & The Chic

Monday, May 15, 2006

Sold! To The Highest Bidder!

For sale: Patriotism. Enlisted soldiers only. Must be in good standing with the U.S. Army with eligibility to re-enlist while currently deployed to a war zone. Desire a "willingness to accept a large bonus!" to do so a plus.

The original sentence that came to my attention actually read, "...demonstrating their dedication to the army, the unit and their willingness to accept a large bonus!" It was written by an officer. I was being asked to include the sentence in the newsletter I edit. The sentence offended me and I told Command that. I was told, very nicely, to put it back in. So I did but I am not at all happy about it.

I asked my husband what he thought about that sentence. He took it in stride but said if the dollar amount had been included, it would have been really tacky. My problem with the sentence is that it cheapens everything it said until that point. Like Pavlov's dog... dangle the money in front of someone and you can get anything you want. Worse, I think it's an insult to the soldiers who choose to re-enlist because they're choosing the army as a career. And those are the soldiers who stay in after their original obligation is finished because they believe in what they're doing, they see the difference they're making in people's lives and they're proud to serve and even more proud to call themselves Americans.

Is money the deciding factor in these decisions? Maybe in some cases it is but I strongly doubt it's the only factor. Let's think about this SIR: Is the $15,000 the Army is willing to pay my husband worth another year's deployment? As my husband pointed out, the army can't pay enough to ask these soldiers to do what they do. Re-enlist, get sent to a war zone and have people shoot at you. It's really all in a day's work for them but not for you, is it SIR? Because you get to sit behind your desk and order my husband and others like him into the fray. How much do you get paid to do that?

In that one line, my thoughts about the future -- our future-- changed. Up until then, I had thought Husband should put in his 20 years and call it done. Now I'm not so sure. I'm not so sure I welcome the prospect of yet more deployments to who knows where for how long. I'm not so sure the retirement benefits are worth the worry and stress that seem to be part of the army spouse job description. The decision is my husband's and I will support him no matter what he decides. What I do know for sure is that my husband's patriotism cannot be bought. For any price.


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