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Merrilee Morse
05-13-2012, 11:30 PM
Okay, talk me down off this ledge. Background: I have spent years in the Mennonite fellowship, and even before that, I disliked the military and the whole military mentality. It didn't help that I watched my brother Roger slowly die of cancer after exposure to agent orange in Vietname as our government turned their back and refused to accept responsibility. The Mennonites finished the job. I hate the military, hate war, you get the picture. So my son DJ who was raised Mennonite and has been told for years I did not raise him up to be cannon fodder, has come to me and told me, yeah, you guessed it. In truth, he has not done well with college, and he feels confused and directionless. He honestly does not have clue one what he wants to do with his life. Part of me thinks the discipline of the military may be the very thing he lacks in his life, and would buy him time to find some direction. Another part of me feels like, this is a nightmare, please wake me up. I would honestly like to hear your thoughts, positive, negative, whatever. Is this a good idea for him or not?

Amanda Williams
05-14-2012, 12:15 AM
Not much to add and typing one handed because of a nursing baby, but my husband joined the Army Reserves 18 months ago and it has been a wonderful experience for us. He is the old guy, of course, but has enjoyed it. He is currently at an officer training course and will be until August, leaving me home with five kids. Still, we wouldn't change things... He actually wants to be deployed, what an adventure! ;)

Dawn Gilmore
05-14-2012, 12:50 AM
My own husband recently told me something I never knew. When he graduated from high school, he intended to go into the military, had been talking to a recruiter, the whole nine yards. His mother was opposed to it, and pressured him to go to college instead. He wasted several years in college, where he had no desire to be, nor direction for his life, and did poorly because he had no motivation to do well. We've just this year (20+ years later) finished paying off all the school loans. He's worked in basically dead-end jobs for most of the past 22 years. He resents his mom's interference, because he feels like if she hadn't interfered, he'd have gone into the military, received training in some field, learned the discipline inherent in military training, and be in a much different place in life.

The most ironic thing of all of it, is that since he lost his most recent job (in February) he's finally decided what he wants to do with his remaining working years, and he's back in college... only this time with clear goals and direction.

It's time for your son to be a man, and be allowed to make decisions. You won't approve of all of the decisions he makes, but you need to let him make those decisions for himself. It's hard, I know. :group:

WendyW
05-14-2012, 02:19 AM
Between my father and my dh, I spent 35yrs as an Air Force dependent, and 3 yrs on active duty. Within 4 generations of my immediate family, there are 7 AF members, and 3 that stuck it out long enough to retire. LOTS of experience.

As in any lifestyle it has its pros and cons. An individual's experience depends a LOT on attitude and mindset. There are SO many good things about military life. We loved it and would go back in a heartbeat if it were possible. If we ever move again, it will be to an area near a military base. Yes, we have missed it that much.

My dh retired 12 years ago, and many things have changed in that time. I know that deployments have taken a large toll on the current soldiers, and I don't have experience with that. But there are many jobs that do not require deployment, and now that they are starting to bring more troops home, it should be less of a concern than it has been.

The military has turned many an aimless person into a responsible adult. They give a lot of responsibility and hold individuals responsible for their actions. I truly believe it is an excellent way to make a young person "grow up". It did me! It provides a lot of structure, which is often needed. They provide awesome educational benefits, and highly encourage everyone to work towards a college degree- without the debt.

I understand that it is contrary to what your church teaches, but I believe that is a choice and tradition of that church, not a Biblical mandate. There were, and in some cases still are, some horrific lapses in the care given to seriously injured soldiers. I don't understand why that happens, and with the current budget situation, there is certainly potential for that to continue. But it's just as possible for a person to be tragically injured on our own hometowns, and civilian insurance companies also have a huge list of abuses and non-payments. Regardless of the type of career a young person chooses, we have to trust that God is in control and that whatever happens is within His will.

Gail in NY
05-14-2012, 07:41 AM
This is a tough call. I understand your convictions and your church teachings, so right there you are torn, hence the wake-me-up-from-this-nightmare feeling.

I understand the poster who feels an interfering mother altered the course of life for her ds. I have 5 ds. The role of a mother in their life is crucial.

as far as becoming a disciplined life: maybe, maybe not. If it is in him to change and he just needs guidance and direction then yes, could be a good thing. I know a few young men that went in undisciplined with no sense of direction and then had dishonorable discharge.

I also know yong men that went i the military for training in a specific area and yes, at recruitment they told him they could do that, but once assigned - it was a different story. That young man is now married with a beautiful wife and 2 dc and struggles to make ends meet driving a propane truck making home deliveries. *sigh* My nephew went in the military at a time inhis life was upside down and he was in great distress. He is now and afficer, a lifer, has won many honors and medals and is a fine young man and father. I would say fo the 3 dc in that family he is the one that has made something of himself.

I will pray for you. He has to make his own decision. Are his convictions the same as yours? If not, then that is no longer the issue, he has made his choice. Support his desire to move in the right direction. This may be the best thing for hm. I only said all this because I am talking myself through all the different angles here and I understand your pain. I will pray for you and DJ. Please keep us posted.

Joy in Alabama
05-14-2012, 07:49 AM
My own husband recently told me something I never knew. When he graduated from high school, he intended to go into the military, had been talking to a recruiter, the whole nine yards. His mother was opposed to it, and pressured him to go to college instead. He wasted several years in college, where he had no desire to be, nor direction for his life, and did poorly because he had no motivation to do well. We've just this year (20+ years later) finished paying off all the school loans. He's worked in basically dead-end jobs for most of the past 22 years. He resents his mom's interference, because he feels like if she hadn't interfered, he'd have gone into the military, received training in some field, learned the discipline inherent in military training, and be in a much different place in life.

The most ironic thing of all of it, is that since he lost his most recent job (in February) he's finally decided what he wants to do with his remaining working years, and he's back in college... only this time with clear goals and direction.

It's time for your son to be a man, and be allowed to make decisions. You won't approve of all of the decisions he makes, but you need to let him make those decisions for himself. It's hard, I know. :group:

I could almost write this exact same story. Dh's stepfather was in the Air Force and retired when dh was a teenager. Dh wound up in college, majoring in accounting because his aunt had strongly urged him to do it, but it wasn't what he wanted to do. He wanted to join the Air Force, but his mother had a fit and we backed off the idea. Eventually, he knew he was called into the ministry, but college took years (no debt, though) and he floundered around for awhile until we finally settled into the ministry in our denomination. He has said many, many times that if he'd joined the military, we could now be retired, and he could be a pastor as a second income. His brother is a chaplain in the Navy and he's had to be deployed, but he's about to retire and is still young enough to have a second career.

I agree with Dawn. My children don't always do what I want them to do and don't always agree with my beliefs 100%, but I have to trust the Lord that His hand is on them and if they are wrong, He'll help them see that somehow and He'll help me deal with it all. It's terribly hard to be a parent sometimes.

Rebe
05-14-2012, 08:16 AM
Case #1: Aimless, purposeless 18yo goes into Navy for 2 years, learns discipline and focus, learns a skill, comes out and gets a fantastic job making good money. Easily is able to support a family with a SAHM wife.

Case #2: Aimless, purposeless 18yo goes into Navy for 2 years, fights the authority of it, complains about it, but still sticks it out and returns home when his committment time is up. Flounders for a few years. Ends up working as a prison guard but it's a full-time job. Still lives at home.

Those are two men in my dh's family. So much of it depends on the individual and what they bring to the table. Are they going to fight authority and complain, or are they going to apply themselves and get every possible benefit they can out of it?

I agree with other posters that it's his decision. Please don't try to talk him out of it. I know that's really hard (I have one son who may very likely end up in the military and it scares me!). Even though one of my above family members did great and one is still not quite as successful as he wants to be, it's more of a personality issue between the two men -- and I also think that both men would say that they don't regret it a bit and that it was extremely good for them to go.

Colleen OH
05-14-2012, 08:20 AM
Just letting you know that I think I understand the foundation of your concerns. It's tough to be the mom of adult children sometimes.

Cori
05-14-2012, 08:24 AM
That's a tough one. I don't want my kids to go into the military either. :sad: You can tell him you don't think it's a good idea and why, but depending on the type of kid he is it could push him into even more. I wouldn't put the heavy pressure on him.

I know recruiters coach kids how to talk to their families, etc., and you could go in with him, I think. I'd want to know how long he will be required to stay in, if he will be required to take a tour, what kind of job skills he will get, and then look up to see if those are in demand in civilian jobs. He's 18, he still needs your guidance in these things from someone who will ask good questions, not give him the answers.

If he is not doing well in college, perhaps steer him to a trade. My husband is a tradesman. It might not give him the discipline he needs, but maturity might. I don't know your son... There are apprenticeship programs for things like electrician, pipefitter, millwright, welders, instrument techs, etc. He could get paid for working 40+ hours a week while he goes to school 2 nights a week. Then after 4 years he'll make a lot more money than in the military.

My husband is a union pipefitter. He works 4 days on and 4 days off. He makes good money and gets good benefits. You can also travel with a trade, if that is what your son wants to do. There is a demand for trades, my husband's company is always looking for good people. I read an article that said no one wants their children to be plumber's anymore.... and my husband is basically a plumber but he does big pipes instead of toilets. ;) The only downside to his job is working in the weather and repetitive use injuries (depending on age, ha). Otherwise, it's interesting and active.

Maybe he just needs options?

wende
05-14-2012, 11:47 AM
I understand and appreciate your convictions. I would try to help guide but not control your son's decision. I think it may be a poor decision if it is just because he sees no other options. There are lots of options. What are his goals? His talents? His desires?

My nephew wanted to travel. He was able to go to trucking school and now drives OTR. He loves it. Loves the freedom, the variety, and the pay is plenty for a single guy.

Going into the military just because you don't see other options wouldn't be reason enough, in my opinion.

Nancy Ann
05-14-2012, 12:21 PM
I think his reasoning is fine, as long as he understands what he is getting himself into. Sometimes we don't know what to do with ourselves and we just have to DO something and we will learn from it. His experience from the military will teach him some things and can help him learn what to do. We can't always just sit and think about what to do and than go do it. Many times we have to live and experience things and slowly develop what we want to do. Life is a journey filled with lots of experiences that develop us. God works through these experiences.

Personally, for a young man who doesn't quite know what to do I think the military is a good choice. It does not have to be permanent and I think it is important to not go into it with huge expectations and promises. I think he should go into it with the idea that he is not really sure what he wants to do and he may learn some things from the military and the military is a good and productive place to be for a directionless young man. Directionless young men are quite at the mercy of a very fallen and mixed message world and I think even with the scariness of the military it's a better place to be.

I would not try to change his mind or tell him what to do but just talk to him about the reality of his situation.

:group::group::group:I also would not be happy if my son wanted to go into the military,:group::group:

Steve Lambert
05-14-2012, 12:37 PM
As others have said, their are pros and cons to the military life and nobody's experience mirrors another. Everybody gets a different result.

That said- *IF* that's what he wants to do with the next several years of his life then likely he needs you to be supportive. As I've said so often around here, "YOU'VE gotten to live YOUR life the way YOU thought best- and now HE gets to live HIS life the way HE thinks best."

We can guide, encourage and explain our feelings- but in the end we have to support the choices our children make.

My 2,

Steve

Merrilee Morse
05-14-2012, 12:39 PM
Thank you all. Dawn, I have to tell you that when I read your post last night, it was like the voice of God speaking directly to my heart. DJ has all the right reasons for doing this; he is directionless and unmotivated right now and he truly feels the need for structure and discipline, and most of all time to make the right decisions. Community college is all we can afford, and he feels the training he gets in the military and the opportunities it will give him for furthering his education would be beyond value. We have talked the downside to death. He knows it is difficult to maintain a solid Christian walk in that environment. But honestly, it was like a big sigh of relief for me, because I was at a loss as to how to help him or give him direction, and this would take that responsibility out of my hands. Maybe this is exactly what God wants for him right now, even if my rebellious heart thinks otherwise. Whatever he chooses, I will support him.

Marcia
05-14-2012, 01:17 PM
Merriee,

I'm right there with you! :group: My Levi came to us a few weeks ago and also told us he is seriously considering going into the Navy. He asked us to please not try and sway him either way, but to support him as he makes this decision. God gave me the grace to not get emotional about it in front of him.

I have spent the past few weeks praying, pondering, and talking to my husband about my feelings. This is his life and it's up to him to make these decisions. I believe the reasons for him wanting to go in are good reasons, but of course, I'm weighing the pros and cons in my mind. Ultimately, I have to trust him into God's hand. Sigh.

I believe he is going to see a recruiter this week, but I haven't ask him. I'm trying to stay out of it, and if he is serious about it, he will pursue it.

My heart goes out to you. :group: I think there can be some real positives that come out of the military, and I pray that if our boys do decide to go that route that it will be beneficial to them. :group::group:

Marcia
05-14-2012, 01:19 PM
And you know what? It makes me feel good knowing other young men like your son would be with my son. :hcry: :group:

Julie Y
05-14-2012, 01:24 PM
Wow, Dawn; thanks for sharing.
Merrilee (and Marcia) praying for your young men and their decision-making. And for their mamas!
:group:

Paige P
05-14-2012, 04:01 PM
:group: Merrilee :group: I have to tell you that I have a cousin who could be described in Dawn's post. He's 50 years old and has wandered aimlessly most of his life. All he EVER wanted was to join the military, and his mother pitched such a fit about it that he didn't. He wandered for years and years. Finally, he ended up on a police force and now is doing fairly well in that life, BUT I think he would have spent years thriving in the military.

You know, my dh joined the Navy at 17. His parents couldn't/wouldn't (long story -- :unsure: ) pay for college, he really had no clue what he wanted to do, and he figured his only "out" was to join the military. It was great to him in many ways. He got a trade (he was a nuke machinist mate), got selected into an Officer's program, got a scholarship college education (and then later his Master's via the GI bill), is now retired and has a 2nd career. It gave him direction, stability, skills, an education, good pay and benefits, etc. Some of the big struggles are that it's a very Godless environment :( If you have a family, it involves being away from your family frequently (he had "shore duty" where he was home for long stretches, but otherwise, he was gone about 60% of the time). It typically involves frequent moves. There really are positives and negatives.

I'll try to get Jim online later tonight and see if he'll post HIS opinions on the matter. He's a good one to talk to :) First of all, he's been there. Secondly, he's been the "leader" of many young sailors and can give a more realistic picture of it. No promises, but I'll ask :)

Dawn Gilmore
05-14-2012, 04:22 PM
Maybe this is exactly what God wants for him right now, even if my rebellious heart thinks otherwise. Whatever he chooses, I will support him.

And this, I think, is the most important place, as mothers, that we can come to. :group:

laurie in ok
05-15-2012, 12:39 AM
And this, I think, is the most important place, as mothers, that we can come to. :group:

:yes:

Praying for both of you! :group::group:

AmyinWI
05-15-2012, 01:03 AM
:group: Merrilee!
My stepson (now 23) joined the Navy right out of highschool. For similar reasons as you, we were very concerned and upset about his choice, but we didn't tell him what to do. I am not sure it would have made a difference anyway.:unsure:
What I can say, is that the structure and discipline of the Navy turned my stepson, (who had been in trouble with the law several times, was nearly expelled from highschool, and was very ,very immature) into a very responsible, young man. He has reinlisted once, just got married and has a new baby and he has turned into a wonderful young man.

In my step son's case, the military turned out to be a very good decision, there's no telling where he would be if he continued the course he was on.:unsure:

Paige P
05-15-2012, 08:59 AM
CHecking back in to tell ya'll that Jim read the thread last night and said he didn't have much else to add :) He thought the ladies (and Steve) had given great advice -- that your "young man" is a man and needs to be left alone to make his decision and that if OUR young man makes that decision one day, we'll just have to let him go :hcry:

What he did add, though, was that anyone who has sons contemplating the military, he would be more than happy to talk to them on the phone or via email to answer questions and give a "realistic" picture -- pros and cons. So, if ya'll want your ds to talk to him, just PM me, and I'll send you our number :)