A team of technology experts tasked by the Defense Department with brainstorming personnel issues has one big suggestion for fixing future military recruitment problems: just teach today's military brats in on-base DoD Education Activity (DoDEA) schools to be tomorrow's fighting force.
That sounds a lot like brainwashing to me.
The idea, reported in this Army Times story, came out of a two-day meeting in the D.C. area in late June, the story says. "Defense Department leaders could use money and innovative education policies to transform DoDEA into a model for education that produces skilled youths who are eager to serve in uniform, and potentially influences students far beyond its own schools," it says.
Let's get one thing out of the way: serving is an honor that all Americans should consider.
But let's go ahead and acknowledge another truth: serving can also be a burden. And that burden is currently carried by less than one percent of America.
Reaching into elementary schools and helping kids learn the traits that make a good recruit, including interest in service, good character and physical fitness, is a great way to raise awesome members of society. Teaching kids the value of military service specifically and service to society in general isn't a bad idea at all. It's kind of fantastic.
But only teaching military brats those lessons while their non-military peers (and military kids who go to school off base) skip them is a terrible one. Instead of making sure the burden of service is shared across our nation, this kind of policy would simply perpetuate the current less-than-one-percent problem. Families who serve will be likely to continue to serve. Families who don't serve will continue to have no personal connections or exposure to military service.
Do you really want your military child in a school where they will be groomed for military service while their peers off base aren't? Making service a family tradition is a beautiful thing -- but so is sharing the job across the nation, not just in the same families over and over again. Military service shouldn't just be the family business of some, it should be the privilege of all.
I am a mother of two sons. If one or both of them wanted to serve their country like their dad, I would be incredibly proud. But I also want my boys to know that they can serve society through other means, too, not just by joining the military. And I really don't want them to be a part of a school system where they are indoctrinated that serving in the military is the be all, end all.
What do you think? Should we be grooming military kids for their own enlistments and commissionings?