In Defense of the Military Abroad
I am now at the point in my life where I have traveled quite a bit. I’ve been to almost every continent and I’ve met a wider variety of interesting people than I would have ever thought existed in this world. However, being an American I always notice this stigma about Americans in every country I go to. I always notice that there is a large disdain for Americans. If you have traveled, then you have heard something along of lines of Americans being loud, drunk, or culturally absent-minded to the point of xenophobia. Most often, if I ask another foreigner about why that perception exists I undoubtably hear the response that “It’s because the American Military sends over a bunch of drunk jerks who cause trouble or get into fights” (or some variation of that sentence)…and to be honest, towards the beginning of my travels I swallowed that garbage, too. The following is my defense of the military abroad:
The average age of military recruits is 21-yrs-old. I’ll say that again, the average age of military recruits is 21-yrs-old. I would guess that there are not a large amount 30-yr-old recruits, and I would further wager that most of those recruits are straight out of high school (lacking in any form of higher education). In a very real sense, the military becomes their higher education, whether that is in engineering, medical, or another field. That said, a recruit can be sent abroad soon after they finish basic training, which means that a majority of soldiers abroad are in their early 20s. Do you remember what YOU were like at that age? I was a selfish asshole, and that was just fine, because your 20s are meant to be the selfish period of your life. You are suppose to get all the hard drinking, needless fighting, and other mistakes out of your system.
I’m not saying that there are not mature, scruple-having soldiers living abroad (of course there are). What I’m saying is that maybe off-duty soldiers in their early-20s aren’t the best demographic to base the American-abroad persona off of. So, next time you think about talking trash on soldiers with other foreigners, you should stop and think, “What was I doing at 21?”
Just an Ammmerrrcan living abroad,