Posts Tagged ‘Valentine’s Day’

I thought I’d write a post for Valentine’s Day, and then I recalled that I don’t really like Valentine’s Day. Not because I’m bitter or romantically neglected, but because it reminds me of 7th grade too much. There’s this pressure to give your loved one cheap chocolate or one of those gigantic teddy bears from Wal-Mart (which is destined for a garage sale anyway) so he/she won’t be the only one at the office (aka, “school”) without a Valentine. It’s junior high all over again—peer pressure capitalism, I say! Okay, that’s the end of my rant.

Instead, I thought I’d write about a segment of society that could definitely use some more LOVE. TIME magazine recently published an article about the growing divide between the military and civilian worlds. This division has led to a situation where many soldiers feel they come home to a country they don’t know, and a society that doesn’t really care. And as military installations are consolidated—the result being fewer, but much larger, bases (think Ft. Hood, TX and Ft. Bragg, NC)—the gap continues to grow since military families can practically live their entire lives on the installation, disconnected from the wider society outside.

Military service is also becoming more of a family affair, with former “brats” making up a good percentage of those who voluntarily join up. From personal experience and from other brat friends I’ve talked to, it seems that it’s increasingly difficult for military children to cross the divide to a civilian world that doesn’t “get” their upbringing and the values it instilled. In the wider American population, younger generations today are less likely to have a family or friend connection to the military, making it more difficult for military kids to relate to their peer group when they leave home or go off to college.

To some extent this kind of “culture shock” is, and has always been, part of military life, but some worry the growing gap between the military and civilian worlds may lead to a kind of “warrior caste.” For me, the big question is: what are the consequences of a military that feels increasingly disconnected from the country it’s fighting for, and a civilian population that has no idea what its military is really up to?

I'll Miss You Dad Child holds on tight to her ...

So in honor of Valentine’s Day—or perhaps in protest of it :)—find a military solider, spouse, or brat and give them a big hug. The military-civilian gap will never close unless the rest of American society takes active steps to  invite soldiers and their families back in.

 

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