day in and day out, I see article upon article shared upon my social media timelines about the crooked war machine recruiting brainwashed and entitled teenagers into a lucrative career as a soldier. Most people have bad things to say about the military for three reasons. They either couldn’t get in, are misinformed, or both. In either instance, do your heavy-duty research before going into a recruiting office or sharing an article that bashes the military.

The process

MEPS, the Military Entrance Processing Station, a lovely place that filters through thousands of applicants every day to suit the needs of the military.

That’s right. This is where dedicated staff members go down a lengthy checklist to make sure that each applicant is fit enough, healthy enough, smart enough, and strong enough to conform to the military's expectations. Applicants are screened for the whole slew of mental illnesses, how flat their feet are, how curved their back is, and other very specific measures. Some common disqualifications include: recent marijuana usage, gang affiliation, flat feet, poor eyesight, criminal history, and most branches have their own sets of physical requirements (push-ups, run, etc...). The notion that “the military isn’t a social experiment,” isn’t intended to be an insult, it’s a reality check to show potential applicants that there is no room for experimentation in the business of war.

It’s all about conformity and uniformity. Even in Boot Camp, everyone dresses the same, walks the same, and talks the same, because that is what war needs. The military gets you to speak their language, no more civilian jargon. You need to be able to speak in phonetic code, and use military time, be adjusted to waking up before 99% of your peers and be comfortable under stressful situations.

MEPS is not like an employment agency where workers cheerfully flip through rotary style business card files finding a job that suits you, it is a place where you go to see if you can fill the military’s quota. Most businesses take your resume and evaluate you for what position is best for you; the military puts you where you need to be.

Choice and preference have no place in the military world because what you want doesn’t matter, it’s serving war that you need to care about.

The function of the military

The uniformed services have one job: war. Anything that hinders or actively prevents this goal from being met is a distraction and a liability that keeps the military from performing at its best. We have the reputation of being the world’s finest military, and we should keep it that way. This seemingly ruthless process may seem crazy, but war is crazy. War is difficult and taxing not only on society but the people fighting in it. Serving during a war is not a right, it is a choice that countless volunteers make every day. Volunteers sacrifice their civilian lives, to protect the freedoms, rights, and liberties that everyone else takes for granted every day.

My experience with the military

Straight out of high school I had plans to go to college and made a U-turn into my local Marine Corps recruiting office. I went to MEPS and got sworn in and shipped off to boot camp six months later after intense preparation. When I got to MCRD Parris Island, SC, it was all over. I realized what I got myself into, and it was truly something that I was not prepared for. I got discharged before completing boot camp, but I got a glimpse of what life in the military was like. My fiancé is Navy veteran, and I hear his experiences with the military as well and it’s difficult to hear about all the hardships and difficulties he had to endure just to maintain his job. The military truly shows no mercy. But that’s its job. You work for the military, it doesn’t work for you.