Just a couple of weeks ago, I did a single soldiers retreat down in Bavaria/Edelweiss. It was another learning experience for me. In the midst of the normal 'taking care of soldiers', I made an observation that may or may not be the complete normal of the Army culture, but definitely was for the group that attended the event.
-Out of the 46 that attended the event, over 95% of them were wearing black or dark t-shirts. Of course, the overwhelming majority of them also have tattoos as well.
-After discussing values of marriage, the overwhelming majority saw: (1) Family History of your spouse, (2) their personal values/beliefs, as not truly contributing factors on whether or not their relationship was compatible.
-Upon dismissing them from most of my sessions, a small majority of them would actually go experience the ALPs, while the rest would have no problem with traversing the 2 mile walk downtown to bars and strip-clubs.
-There was absolutely no talking on the bus there and back (6-8 hours one way). Ipods are dawned upon getting on the bus, and exiting like a ritual. The occassional interaction is only done at a smoke-break/bus stop.
- With a little help from the Chaplain, they managed to lessen the GD's and F-bombs while we were at the retreat center.
Bottomline: Now, I serve as a Chaplain to reach these guys with the love and gospel of Jesus. So, I am not saying this negatively, but please read. I believe that respect and support for our military should be highly endorsed, but also fully recognized and understood. Just because a young man/woman wears the military uniform does not constitute a fine citizen. This blind patriotism toward the uniform diminishes the honorable soldiers by lumping all soldiers into one. We operate as a unit in the Army, but we also will be accountable for our individual actions. Thus, saying all are 'heroes' or 'felons' blankets some into categories that I believe are unearned or undeserved. (I hope that makes sense).
The first time I saw my "CRAVEN" nametag on my uniform at Fort Jackson, 1998...I filled with pride, and also felt the weight of responsibility to carry that name. On one side of the uniform was my name, the other the US ARMY. I belong to both, I give an answer to both. But, I pray live a life that rightfully deserve the honor that goes with them.