I’ve been living in two separate worlds for 18 years now. One has been my born into, traditional, fairly comfortable civilian life, the other has been as a Marine volunteer. I met, liked, and appreciated many Marine officers, but spent 90% of my time with the enlisted guys.
Many of those hours were spent at Wounded Warrior Barracks, now know as WWBE. I loved every minute of the time I’ve spent, and continue to spend with these guys. With only a handful of problematic encounters, they were wonderful to me, welcoming me with open arms.
As the wars have continued to wind down my efforts have evolved more towards working with Congressional military liaisons to resolve every problem imaginable for these guys. Of those I’ve helped, only a couple could have helped themselves. They had no understanding of the value of Congressional military liaisons, their job description, or that they even existed. With rare exceptions, they were unaware of which congressional district they lived in and who their representative was. And therein lies a large portion of the problem.
Most of the enlisted guys I knew had no idea how to help themselves, or what avenues were available to them. This was not the case with the Marine officers I got to know. A smattering of the enlisted guys I knew had college degrees, and many took advantage of their educational benefits when they got out to get them. But a college degree doesn’t necessarily educate one in all aspects of life. Generalizations are always risky assumptions, however, my observation was, there were huge differences in the backgrounds of most enlisted young men, and that of officers.
Often, even obtaining what we would consider to be a formal education doesn’t change the ideas one has had pounded into them their entire lives. Especially if they have come from a small town, working-class family. Working in the steel factories in Ohio and Pennsylvania, or farming in the rural south. The majority of these guys are not from backgrounds of privilege. Joining the Marines was their ticket out of a life they didn’t envision was one they wanted to be stuck in.
Education is a wonderful way in which to expand our thoughts, ideas, and world views. There are times when it can completely enlighten and transform individuals. Other times the student…