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Letter from the Editor – A life-changer

Prince Frederick, MD – At a relatively young age most human beings reach a crossroads. They must decide what route to take, what road to travel next. It's a big call they have to make. So it was with many of the military veterans TheBayNet.com staff writers have been interviewing the past several days. They give us all, especially the younger readers, something to ponder.

To some, in a world that celebrates free spirits, the idea of having any job that involves wearing a uniform isn’t always at the top of the list when thinking about a career and planning a future. And yet, selecting the Armed Forces as your foundation can literally change your life.

There have been times in America’s history—usually when war drums are beating—that military service becomes something people want to avoid, the same way they seem to want to dodge jury duty. Vietnam, the last conflict where young men were drafted into the military, was an era filled with anti-war protests, draft dodgers, conscientious objectors. The fact is, other conflicts, including both World War I and World War II, caused many men to seek ways to evade service. One of the deadliest antiwar protests in American history occurred during the Civil War.

Military conscription—“the draft”—is still in existence and most male U.S. citizens and male immigrant non-citizens between the ages of 18 and 25 are required by law to register within 30 days of their 18th birthdays. However, the drafting has not been implemented for almost two generations. America’s modern Armed Forces might be staffed by some skeptics or individuals who simply thought they might “give it a go.” However, in today’s Armed Forces, both men and women, are mostly ambitious and career-minded. Most have a strong sense of duty and a deep love of America. While they are arguably unselfish, the shaping of their own futures is a significant factor as to why they wear their uniforms.

The Armed Forces sends its enlistees all over the world, and sometimes, out of this world, as career military have been integral in the space program. For a lot of small town kids, it’s an amazing way to travel into the adult world.

As we know, however, not everyone survives this experience. Whether it’s being in harm’s way in a foreign land, in the air, on the sea or stationed at a stateside base, the serviceman’s job has a daunting element of danger just about every day. That’s why it’s not always a career for everyone.

Still, the possibility of military service should always be on a healthy young person’s list of future experiences. We encourage all schools—public and private—high schools and colleges—to invite Armed Forces recruiters to come on campus and give them a chance to give students an overview of what service demands and how it can benefit an individual. We applaud the many Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps programs in public high schools throughout the region and urge state and county leaders to keep them as a part of the elective curriculum. The Civil Air Patrol Cadet Corps programs in the area are also effective in planting the seeds of service.

To all our area Armed Forces veterans, thanks for taking the path in life that you did. Enjoy your Veterans Day weekend.

Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of TheBayNet.com management.

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com

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