From Seattle Times op-ed, by Brian Fleming
The “volunteer” in our all volunteer force is what makes the military successful. As an officer in the U.S. Army, I meet young people in the Seattle area every day who do not understand their country’s military. If they don’t understand it, why would they consider serving in it?
The reality is only 29 percent of youth meet the qualifications to serve in our nation’s military. An even bigger issue is that about 50 percent of youth admit to knowing little to nothing about their military.
If you take the time to talk to veterans, I promise they will high-light the military’s high standards, competitive nature, and their experience with risk and reward. Reflecting on their experiences, older veterans at a recent VFW event described their time in military service as a transformative experience and the high point of their character development.
Statistics show veterans are more likely to vote, volunteer, and be involved in their communities. They have higher median incomes than their nonveteran counter parts. Veterans set the example for what we should want from our youth. So why aren’t more of us encouraging them to consider service as an option?
(It is part of VFW’s mission help educate young people in their civic obligations, part of which may, and should be, to participate in the defense of the nation. Our thanks to Lt. Col. Fleming for reminding us of the work at hand. ed.)
Lt. Col. Brian Fleming is the commander of the U.S. Army Seattle Recruiting Battalion. He is a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and served most recently in U.S. Special Operations CommandAfrica.