Not Making the Grade to Serve

After reading an article by journalists from the Associated Press titled “Nearly 1 in 4 Fails Military Exam” I felt compelled to add my personal experience and thoughts on the subject. More than 30 years ago I had proudly taken the ASVAB test and entered the United States Navy to serve my country as my father did before me. This was an honor for me and though there were ups and downs including life threatening injuries, I am proud of my service.

Nine months ago our oldest son also wanted to step up and serve the country that he is extremely proud of by enlisting into the United States Army. Since we are expats, this was a chore in itself to find the correct offices and recruiters to speak to. Weeks after the endeavor had begun and after calls to multiple bases and offices throughout the U.S. and parts of Europe, we were put in touch with the U.S. Army European command. Within a few weeks our son was taking the practice exams and making progress towards accomplishing his goal. Throughout this time frame, we had discussed career choices and the vast educational programs that the military offered. Our son´s decision, he just wanted to enter and serve his enlistment as an infantry soldier.

Although somewhat against the idea of the infantry, this was the starting point that our son had chosen feeling he could advance and move on to a specialized field once he had gained the experience. The recruiter felt he was ready from the scores on the practice tests so with his head held high and spirits even higher, he was boarding the plane to Germany to take the ASVAB exam. This was both the hardest but yet the proudest that I had felt in 30 years. The next few days had proven to be hard because this was the first time our son had to navigate through airports by himself and he was traveling through Europe at the same time. Three days later he returned somewhat broken hearted because his scores were below the U.S. Army´s limits. The recruiter recommended to continue to study, but at the same time said that they could have let him enter under a specific program but there were no openings.To this date this recruiter has not called or cannot be contacted.

Even though this had infuriated me I have since encouraged our son to continue to study and try again. Then on December 21st I read the article from the Associated Press to find that it isn´t just being prepared for this ASVAB but the military have elevated their expectations past the requirements for the majority of the high schools in the United States. This I find appalling and hard to comprehend that from a country that boasts the largest volunteer military in the world to single out who can serve their country and who is not smart enough to serve. With all the finger pointing I do not believe that all of these educational institutions throughout the United States can be blamed.

This government threatens to limit government aid and assistance if the young men do not sign up for the selective service, but is there a test score for this? I imagine not. I hope that in the future the military bureaucrats take into account that SAT´s or college level exams do not stop bullets nor win conflicts, it is the soldier that learns from the military how to be a soldier. Math scores and science scores did not make the United States what it is; it was the pride and determination of the American soldier.

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