Fears and Choices: Is it worth the risk?

My last post dealt with working out and getting fit for the military and I think it’s only natural to share my fears about the process of joining and making it through Officer Candidate School. It’s only natural, because one of my fears is that I will physically fail. I will somehow not meet the standards; I’ll not be able to do enough push-ups or sit-ups in the allotted time or I won’t be able to run a fast enough pace. This worry is what keeps me working hard and physically pushing myself. If I decide I shouldn’t worry about this then I’ll get complacent and then I’m really setting myself up for disaster. So, on this fear, I think it’s better to worry about it because it makes me keep hitting the gym and doing all I can to be in good physical shape.

Of course, there are many other fears that run through my mind as I think about joining the Army. I think first and foremost that there is a huge fear of death. It’s only natural, I think, to fear death and in the case of being in the military, if I do die serving my country, it will probably be in war or in some sort of conflict. It’s a scary thing to think about; being shot to death, being exploded, dying from injuries sustained in battle (chemical warfare or just plain ol’ bullets will do the trick), dying in a POW camp or being kidnapped and murdered. It is something that everyone must think of and consider when joining the military. One is making the ultimate sacrifice of one’s own life for the better of their country.

But I think that some deaths are in vain. The soldiers that died at the hands of their own (at Fort Hood or from dying from friendly fire in combat) probably didn’t think that was how it was going to go down. Is that the ultimate sacrifice? Dying by someone who later says, “oops, we shot that guy.” It makes me afraid of my own (well, soon-to-be-my-own) knowing that people who have committed crimes can be given a waiver and then promptly given a gun. Someone I know said that soldiers “are trained to be killing machines.” Do I trust the 18-year-old killing machine with a GED and a history of drug and alcohol related crimes? No.

And I am also afraid of my soon-to-be-own in light of the allegations that there is a culture of sexual abuse in the military (click here, and here for two takes on the same story). I hurt for those women who claim they were victims of sexual crimes at the hands of their own. If these stories are indeed true, I must consider doing all of this work and having all of these worries, only to have it taken away by a fellow soldier. There is no doubt that I would leave the military if I was raped by a fellow officer. But in true officer fashion I wouldn’t just leave. I’d fight back and lead the way against prosecuting my attackers.

Other major fears include not getting in to OCS, getting hurt and being recycled, getting hurt and getting sent to Advanced Individual Training (enlisted), or making it all the way through everything, uprooting my family, moving across the country and then hating my job. Volunteerism runs deep in my blood but ultimately if I don’t feel like I’m doing a good thing and contributing to something bigger than myself or if I find a corrupt, abusive military establishment I fear that I would have to leave. After all my fears and hard work I would ultimately have to leave.

The fact that I’m considering these things is good. It reminds me that there are risks and rewards no matter if I work in the private sector or the public sector. Yes, these fears are very grim, but it’s important to be realistic about what I’m getting into. I feel powerful in contemplating my future. I feel powerful in knowing myself. Above all I feel powerful knowing that I can make the choice. And ultimately it’s my choice.

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