I leave the Army for good in September of this year. My chain of command has been shell shocked that I am going through with it. Two years ago when I first came to grips with what was happening and resolved to no longer be a part of it, there was derision and even an officer telling me that voicing my opinions about the state of the US economy and its moral failings could be considered a violation of the UCMJ for conduct “prejudicial to good order and discipline.”
When I gave my Operations NCO a copy of the book “A Distant Mirror” by Barbara Tuchman he came to me a month later stating that if there is a civil war, he and his fellow Hispanics will “have to choose sides.”
When I told my first sergeant why I would not be re-enlisting, she said “Don’t you want to re-enlist to get your 20?”
I said that I wanted to re-enlist, but I couldn’t, that my pension was nothing compared to being prepared to sacrifice my life. Then she and I went on to discuss my (your) ideas on why there was a possible collapse of the US government in the future, she went from denying the possibility to stating “Well, it all depends on what level of collapse you’re talking about,” needless to say I was stunned.
The re-enlistment NCO refuses to talk to me, and several other mid to senior level NCOs who previously thought I was kidding have left the Active reserves for the Individual Ready Reserves.
One stated that he too was disgusted with both candidates for president and then asked me if I thought things would be so bad, why wouldn’t I stay in and try to fix things “from the inside”? I cited the example of the Yugoslav army and how there were fire fights within units and stated that I would refuse to follow unconstitutional orders. I then asked, “Don’t you think if one of the two candidates gets in power that either might order the power of the state to be used against their political enemies? That’s what would be likely to START those kinds of firefights, right?”
Officer: “SFC, you are hereby ordered to take your platoon and do evil unconstitutional thing X.”
Officer: “SSG, Arrest SFC !”
Me: (Click) “Don’t move sir.”
The other NCO just kinda smiled grimly and nodded. His friend, a warrant officer whom I have known since 2009 then blurted “Well, that won’t happen anyway, the US government can’t collapse, too many people depend on it!”
We both stared at him and he looked embarrassed almost immediately. He is not a stupid man, but it shows the mindset most are locked into, no matter how illogical it is.
I have many more anecdotes, but the summary is this: Whereas I was laughed at two years ago, many other senior NCOS are leaving. Many Enlisted men are frightened and wish to get out. The liberals, humanists, atheists and feminists are taking over.
EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON over the past two years, from family, friends, and colleagues to acquaintances and others in the civilian world who hear I am getting out after 15 years always start with the same argument: What about your pension/heathcare?
My own brother, an amateur military historian asked me the same question last week, and I said:
“You studied military history for 8 years in school, and as a hobby your whole adult life, if you had to go up against a military composed entirely of people who were there to get their retirement benefits, how easy would that army be to defeat?”
Ann, it’s been rough. I LOVE the US Army. At times I have almost been reduced to tears thinking about putting on the uniform for the last time. But I cannot be part of the army that serves a government like ours.
Thank you just for being out there and fighting the good fight.
(Be assured of our prayers, sir.)