I recently came across an article that showed how the number of people joining the military is on the rise, mostly due to high unemployment. This article caught my eye, because after reading and discussing the book, The Things they Carried, by Tim O’Brien, we discussed how Tim did not want anything to do with the war. He thought seriously about fleeing to Canada and hiding out until the war in Vietnam was over. O’Brien thought that by joining the military in fighting this war was the coward thing to do. He writes,
“The day was cloudy. I passed through the towns with familiar names, through the pine forests, and down to the prairie, and then to Vietnam, where I was a soldier, and then home again. I survived, but it’s not a happy ending. I was a coward. I went to the war.”
To me, this seemed so backward to what I or today’s society would normally think. If someone today was drafted and was seriously thinking of running away, I would think they were a coward for not wanting tof fight for this country.
The movie, Born on the Fourth of July, the main character, Ron, joined the military for his own specific reasons. To me, it seemed like he did it to have the image of being strong and to prove to his family, friends, and community that he was worth something. Unlike O’brian, Ron might of felt like a coward if he did not join the war. He also did not understand his friends when they said they would rather stay home and go to college, rather than going to Vietnam to help fight in the war.
The article that I found was from the New York Times, where it discussed how in this war, more and more people are joining the military for reasons other than being forced by the draft, or for the only reason of wanting to show courage and fight for the country. Instead, the military recruitment is on a rise for two main reasons. One is that unemployment rates are rising, and they are not able to find a steady job that can provide for their families. The military offers them a sense of security in a job and a paycheck. Other young men and women joined because they could not get student loans to pay for college. The other main reason for rising military occupants is that the violence in the war zones seemed to have decreased. People are not viewing this war as dangerous as it once was, which is increasing their motivation for joining some branch of the military.
O’Brian, T. The Things they Carried, p.61
Alveraz, L. More Americans Joining the Military as Jobs Dwindle, Jan. 18, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/19/us/19recruits.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1