I had some great experiences in the military. I met some wonderful people and have seen some beautiful places. I had entered with a mindset of a “patriotic son”; something of a concept that you would see spoke about on FoxNews. In three short news; I became a libertarian minded skeptic of nearly everything that I had done.
(1) Drug war: I made a small dent but the military isn’t your panacea.
We chased after drug boats. We tried to seize cocaine. We circled around in large swaths of the ocean with equipment not designed to find those sleek speedboats. But the ugliest thing I learned was that our society doesn’t do the easiest things to prevent drugs from inundating our communities. They instead throw money at the military and the police to do ineffectively what they themselves should be doing.
(2) Someone else is benefitting from our hard work.
We spent months/years of our lives in service of our country, living outside of America’s standard life of ease. We toiled in the dark. We toiled under adverse conditions. I am not bitter because I agreed to a blanket set of contractual conditions. I received pay for the work. I received other conditions in exchange. But the bitterness came later when I “read and learned”. I saw that food service and “ship chandlers” were the beneficiaries of the work when they were rewarded with tax payer money.
(I note the Fat Leonard scandal below).
I also mention that a myriad of “fat backs” enjoy defense contracts with juicy over runs with little to no accountability. This runs the gamut from shipyard operations to heavy equipment to what ever supplies that are needed. You know the drill.
The biggest kicker is that the vast majority of defense contractors didn’t know how to deal with military people. I noticed this at hiring events, speaking with contractors when I was trying to get connections, or even at professional events. (I even had a engineer get rude with me when I tried to learn more about his trade. Yes, Asperger’s jokes aside, he lacked any tact in dealing with Navy personnel and he stuck out like a sore thumb making his job even more difficult).
I left the military puzzled and feeling like it made more sense to work at Pizza Hut for four years with a short internship serving a defense contractor. An empty headed college kid seems to be a better fit than someone that has actually been in an actual adverse position like the military.
(3) All news media uses military stories to make money without showing the aftermath:
It didn’t matter if it was Pat Tillman, Jessica Lynch, Chris Kyle, or any other military member of notoriety that was seen in the news. I got physically sick when I noticed the truth: These people were being used for their stories. It was either propaganda spin or something that would sell “copy”. I felt like these people were used by the media without eliminating the “jazz element”. Everyone loves the military until they have to deal with them directly. We love the money and the glam but we neglect the fact that they are real people when the lights dim.
(4) I felt more inclined to defend my interests and my shipmates more than the nations’:
I honestly started to feel like I let down many people. I wasted time and money when I flunked out of electronics school. I skated and milked the clock when it came to certifications/qualifications. My original purpose left when I had my original contract voided. I was in a survivor mode, waiting out the remaining years. I did my best to have done what was asked of me but I felt like honesty and enthusiasm wasn’t rewarded. I was promoted when I omitted and did the bare minimum. I earned a check to take care of me. I didn’t want to shoot at Colombians if I had to. I only wanted to defend my shipmates wellbeing and my check. I didn’t get blinded my patriotism and the Roger Ramjet mentality.
I felt like I was tortured when I started seeing through a lens of facts and logic. I wasn’t the conservative adventurer my church knew. I became the tortured libertarian that the world didn’t want to know.