Editor’s note: In April, MilitaryShoppers published “What’s Wrong with Military Service as a Family Business?” and one reader had a lot to say about it.
He said “…regarding the participation of volunteer Americans who serve ‘for the duration of unrest’ and those other patriotic Americans who ‘make Military Service a career’ should not be defined as Americans who take on our military/government service as a ‘Family Business.’ Give these brave and honorable Americans the courtesy of acknowledging them as heroes and not Business (as usual) Families.”
Here’s our response to his comment.
A family business, to me, means a store or company that is passed down through the generations. A company that goes from “Smith” to “Smith & Sons (or Daughters) to “Smith and Co.”
In the sense that our U.S. military is built on generations of hard work and sacrifice, yes, one could call it a family business. But only if you are referring to the entire U.S. population as that family.
Frankly, it is not surprising that 80 percent of our current troop force has a relative who has honorably served. In the 1990s, troops saw service in Desert Storm. In the 1960s and 1970s, we saw a military draft for service in Vietnam. Just two decades prior, millions of citizens were mobilized to combat fascism in World War II. These service men and women are the current generation’s parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, siblings and cousins.
It might be hard to find a family where no one has ever served in the US military from 1940 to the present day. No wonder the veterans in our own families influence the choice to commit to military service.
Today, we have a 100 percent volunteer force.
A 100 percent volunteer fighting force means that each and every military member had to make the decision to join. No one was telling him or her to join or else. With recent wars and casualties, you can bet that even children of military personnel had to take these potentialities into account when they swore their oath to protect and defend.
The child of a service member knows better than most the sacrifices that must be made on a daily basis. Seeing a parent deploy over and over, wondering when or if he will come back home and moving constantly are familiar to the 25 percent of current troops who had a parent who served.
Yet many still choose to join the military.
A family business feels like something a son or daughter must join, must continue, to uphold the family name or to keep the family financially stable.
Who is telling that 80 percent to join the military?
They aren’t working for a company bearing their own last name. They won’t inherit a share of it or be able to divide their portion among any children.
There is no inherited reason to sign up for this life, other than their own passion and commitment.
Instead, these volunteers are working for the United States of America. They are working to uphold the U.S. Constitution, to sacrifice of themselves for the common good.
Deciding to serve in the military, or any other service profession, is a calling. It is something that a person feels deep inside, something they know is right for them personally, something that fulfills them.
Whether signing up for a 4-year contract or committing to 20+ years of military service, service members do it because it is right for them. Yes, getting paid is nice and having training or professional experience for post-military life is wonderful.
But military service is more than just a job or career; it is a purpose.
Our troops sign up and swear an oath to serve our country. They are writing that much touted “blank check for an amount up to and including their lives.”
This is serious stuff, something that requires thought and total commitment. It is not something to be entered into lightly or because it “runs in the family.”
If seeing a relative honorably serve has led a person to serve as well, we should applaud this. We should equally seek out and recognize troops who do not have a family legacy of service.
Whatever reason causes a person to join the military, it should not simply be written off as a family business.
Oh no, this “business” is so much more than just something to be handed down.