Publisher’s Perspective: Parents and military enlistment during uneasy times (Opinion)
A few years ago, my family and I stood watching the Blue Angels perform at the Aviation Roundup in Carson Valley. During that performance, the jets, in ground-shaking fashion, buzzed us, putting the largest smile on my oldest son’s face.
I didn’t know it at the time, but that experience had an impact on my son that is now quite evident. He wrote about that experience in his admission letter to the United States Air Force Academy – one that shaped his vision of wanting to become a pilot and defend his country.
My family is deeply rooted in the military. Whether it was grandfathers, fathers, brothers, uncles, nephews, all have had a place in my family serving our country. When the time came for my son to make his first choice about what he wanted to do after high school, I can’t say it was a shock. I am proud of his decision. I am also proud of his effort to get here.
For any parent who has had a child apply for the Air Force Academy, West Point, or Annapolis, you know this process is not the same as enlisting. There’s a score you need to exceed on your SATs, you have to have a congressional nomination, pass physicals, as well as complete a fitness test – not to mention all the other leg work, essays and additional recommendation letters you need. Even if you pass all the tests and check every box, there’s still no guarantee you will get a place among the few they admit every year – and that’s where we are.
Here we sit, having checked off all the boxes, awaiting the decision from the Academy, which should come sometime this month. But, with the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine, there are thoughts that haven’t crept in my mind until now.
Does the thought of sending a child to an environment where going to war is a possibility, change the way I view his plan? No. This is part of the gig when it comes to the military. You know this can happen. However, it doesn’t mean that my concern doesn’t get ratcheted up, because it absolutely does.
I’m not the first parent to have gone through this, and there is still an outcome that doesn’t involve the U.S. and going to war. There’s also the fact that the Academy operates almost in reverse fashion from enlistment where four years of schooling come first, then four years of active service time kicks in. The hope is that he can turn this experience into being an officer and help guide young men and women along the right path towards success.
At some point you have to trust what you’ve done so far as a parent gives him the foundation of smart decision-making and being able to handle difficult situations. The military will do its part in their specific training and hopefully, all things factored in, he comes out with the right experience that will carry him through the rest of his life successfully.
I think that’s what all parents want for their children regardless of what they decide to do after high school. Although, this added situation over seas definitely gives me a different perspective.
Being my oldest, this is the first time dealing with a child leaving the roost. While I’m certain that has something to do with how it all feels, I write this as perspective from a parent that understands the world is constantly changing – as are our children.
Things we can control, things we cannot – this isn’t new. It’s reflecting on the effort you’ve put in up to this point for those things that cannot be controlled – and ensuring they get support they need. At the end of the day, it’s the best thing we can do for our next generation. Give them your best effort and encourage them to give their best in whatever they do.
God willing, we’ll make the difference that makes a difference.
Publisher Rob Galloway can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-542-8046.
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