Monday, February 27, 2012

He's In the Army Now

My new car window sticker.
This post is somewhat personal today. My middle son, Economic Sphere, was sworn in to the Army and flew off to basic training. His sweet little wife came downtown with Mr. Spherical Model and me to the MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station) to see the ceremony and say goodbye until after basic training.
We’re proud of our son, and the Army seems very pleased to have recruited him. He has a college degree and has been married a few years, so he’s more mature and knowledgeable than many. He also had some ROTC experience in college. So he’s likely to be used as a leader.
When he first told us he was considering the Army, I thought it was his backup plan if he didn’t get a job out of college. But, while he would have taken a very good offer, to please us, the economy was not healthy enough to offer that alternative. And this is what he really wanted to do all along. But after the stress of college, he had to get back in shape. He started losing weight before moving in with us last summer, and then, once he made his decision certain, he got more serious about working out and dieting. He lost a total of 60 pounds, putting him under the requirement (which I think is maybe a little too lean for someone as tall as he is). And he passed all the physical requirements with flying colors.
That's him, tall one in the middle of the far right row.
A recruiter had originally told him that there might be a specialty in finance that could become a career. But that turned out not to be the case; finances are generally outsourced to the private sector nowadays. But Economic Sphere was still very positive about wanting to take whatever was available. After the entrance aptitude test, his high scores opened doors that weren’t open for everyone. His area of specialty following basic training will be intelligence, in crypto-linguistics. An additional test showed that he would qualify to learn a level three language (the most difficult), but what language he actually learns will depend on the military’s need. He will also get a top secret clearance, which can open opportunity doors in the future as well.
His assignment after basic will be at the defense language institute in California. He was born in California, but left before he was two. We have some good memories from there. I have to say, though, if you’re going to live in California, doing it with housing provided and no kids in school yet is a good way to enjoy the climate. Mr. Spherical Model and I will have to visit.
Each of the recruits did solemnly swear:
…that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same. I will obey the orders of the president of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulation and the uniform code of military justice, so help me God.
I’ve been worried, as a mother, about a son going in to the military when we have a commander-in-chief that I do not trust to be wise. But I am hopeful that a year from now that will no longer be the case. Still, when I heard that he was swearing to obey the orders of the president, I had a twinge of worry. Economic Sphere reminded me afterward not to worry, because he cannot be expected to violate the uniform code of military justice. And I know he will know that code, because he tends to remember everything he learns. He also told me that officers do not swear obedience to the president, only to the Constitution and the code, so that no president can use the military to usurp power over the nation’s citizens.
I am also comforted, as a mother, that his skills will be valuable in a way that is likely to keep him out of harm’s way. He would have been willing to go into infantry, and he had asked me at one point if I’d be mad at him if he did that. I said no, I wouldn’t be mad; I’d just be frantic with worry for a very long time. His recruiter, whom we met yesterday, had gone infantry. And he’d had only 12 days’ notice for his mother to get used to the idea. I have had many months to get used to the Army idea, and a full month knowing what his area of specialty would be. My burden has been light, which I appreciate.
In Economic Sphere’s ceremony, there were a dozen recruits, from the various armed services, shipping out today. There was another ceremony with as many more immediately afterward. These are all brave volunteers, willing to serve our country during difficult times. We have good reason to be proud of these young men and women, and thankful for their service. I plan to keep them in my prayers, especially my son.

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