Last week, President Obama announced that he would be withdrawing military troops from Afghanistan. A lot of people, my husband included, were happy to hear that news, even though it's almost assuredly politically motivated. My servicemember husband told me that a lot of his colleagues are as sick of repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan as civilian Americans are of hearing about the wars. So I think, on the whole, Obama's news was good.
The next morning, I was on Yahoo! reading about Obama's announcement. I went down to the comments section, where someone wrote "It's time to bring our kids home". It always bothers me when people refer to those who choose to serve in the military as "kids". Let's be real about this. No one who is legally a child is allowed to serve in the Armed Forces. Yes, there are many 18 year olds out there who act like kids. But legally, they are NOT children and should never be referred to as such. We've got enough elderly teenagers out there who need help getting launched without people extending their childhoods by calling them "kids".
There may be immature people serving in the military, but make no mistake about it, their jobs are not child's play. It's insulting and offensive to refer to the people who take on the job of serving in America's Armed Forces as children, because that implies that they're innocent, naive, and somehow need special help. While I can admit that there are some people in the military who are not "mental giants", I also know that anyone who joins the military does so voluntarily. Military recruiters can be persuasive, sure, but ultimately the individual makes the decision to join up. No one holds a gun to their head.
Unlike a lot of other countries, including some in Europe, the United States does not currently force people to serve in the military. But anyone who joins the service must know that going to war is part of the job. Those who have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan know firsthand that what they are doing isn't playing a childish game; it's war. And because it's war, Americans damn sure better hope their Armed Forces are not run by or populated with "kids". Moreover, Americans should be grateful to those who have made the brave decision to join the military. The lifestyle is not easy.
I have a lot of respect for people who serve in the military. They are some of the finest people I've ever known. I would never demean what they do by referring to them as "kids", because what they do is vital to the American way of life. In order to remain a free society, the United States must have an effective military. The military is most effective when it's run by people who have volunteered for the job, rather than people who have been forced into it. It's okay to be glad that the troops will be coming home. It's not okay to refer to them as innocent children who have been put in harm's way. They put themselves in harm's way the day they made the decision to join the military and I, for one, am grateful every day for their sacrifice and service.