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Discussion: Service in the 60s-70s

in: PG; PG > 2015-11-11

Nov 12, 2015 12:13 PM # 
After surviving the SDS invasion of Columbia (University) in '68 while I was there in law school (which provided some of the SDS leadership even though the law students were popularly denounced as establishment), I served in the Navy for 3 1/2 years (line officer, not JAG), first part on a heavy cruiser off the 'nam coast, last part ashore in San Diego as a military justice instructor.

Civilian attitudes about the military, even in San Diego, were so strong against the "war mongers" serving in the Navy that officers and enlisteds alike were encouraged not to wear the uniform off-base.

The service experience was not worth a rat's patooie in the eyes of future employers. They credited me and others as having been in an idler's black hole for the time served, so we competed for jobs with people 3 or 4 years younger who were fresh out of school and had high (uncalled) draft lottery numbers.

But I don't rue my time in the service one bit. The experience of guiding a 1000-foot ship in coastal waters and tempering military rules and customs to balance needs of men and commanders was challenging and exciting. Law school taught me what I needed to know to survive the military (gaming the rules), and the military taught me what I needed to survive over 30 years in a corporation (gaming the bureaucrats).

Yes, today's ubiquity of "Thank you for your service" is a bit wearing, but it beats the enmity of my era. If only Americans would now deliver to our wounded the recompense that was promised.
Nov 12, 2015 12:20 PM # 
The last bit bothers me so much. People can say, "Thank you for your service!" and "Support the troops!" until their face turns blue, but so many of those same people don't support the actual people affected by war when it comes to both helping afterwards and also not sending them in harm's way unnecessarily in the first place.

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