One of the great things about being in the Navy is the chance to interact with people from all over the United States, and even the world. It’s diversity in its truest form. I’ve met someone from every single state, almost every territory and plenty of immigrants from countries in every continent and heck, I’ve even met people that traveled to Antarctica.
I’m quite proud that I never wasted these opportunities to learn about the background of the Sailors around me. It’s how I learned about the real difficulties my African-American Sailors faced growing up, or the difficulties for Sailors from the backwoods portions of America. I particularly remember one Sailor’s response to my question “Why did you join the Navy?”
“Well Sir, it was either that or working at a gas station my whole life.”
For many people, the Navy is there chance to get out of a bad circumstance. Compared to most companies, the Navy is happy to pay big money to train someone with nothing but a high school degree and give them a decent paying job with good benefits. In fact, I’d say it was one of the only places that did this.
But that has changed.
These companies and others have always had a path for people to excel. A friend of mine works in McDonalds Corporate Headquarters, but he got started as a teenager flipping burgers. The problem was not that there isn’t much opportunity, but that it wasn’t advertised all that well. Now that it is, that’s a good thing, because the more skilled our labor force, the better it is for everyone.
Except the Armed Services.
The military depends on a constant flow of young, somewhat educated young people (mostly men) to fill its ranks every year and replace the older, burned out service members that leave. The choice between the service or a life of gas station work is a real choice many Americans face every day. But if you can drive trucks for Walmart at $95K your first year, you’re making more then any non-nuclear Petty Officers in the Navy. Combined with not getting shot at in a war zone or deploying on a ship in such conditions it might make you turn to suicide, and it looks like a pretty good deal.
In the quest for manpower, my money is on Walmart, not the military.
This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency, because they’ll tell you everything is great while I tell you the truth. If you enjoyed this post, check out some of my books on Amazon, they make great gifts for your friends.