Ask not what your country can do for you, Ask what you can do for your country

Yesterday, I witnessed the retirement ceremony of a Hospital Corpsman Master Chief Petty Officer. He read a Woodrow Wilson quote during the ceremony that I felt represented my feelings of Naval Service:

"You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand."
~ Woodrow Wilson

My enlistment began toward the tail end of Desert Storm 1. Like my peers it was a call to serve our country. During my junior year we all took a career indicator. Imagine my shock when it indicated I was suited for military service, healthcare industries, and environmental conservation (park ranger). I graduated from high school, took a few classes & had 3 jobs. Yes, I had 3 jobs all part time with no benefits. One of my managers was involved in a car accident (her fault) and required physical therapy and corrective surgery. Her benefits barely covered it. This shocked me into realizing I wasn't immortal and needed to protect myself. Were my enlistment intentions completely altruistic? No and I admit this freely. There was some talk of money for college but the military draw for me was strictly patriotism and healthcare benefits. I know the recruiter at that time saw me as a minority female. Lucky for him I suppose. Luckier for me, to get a Navy job that truly fit my skill set.
Recently I've become aware of a subsection of military enlistment, I was never sensitive to these sailors who enlisted strictly for college money. It seems more and more of the junior sailors have been sold on the promise of college money and tuition assistance. Some of them think that the military pays really well!?! I made equal the amount of money my senior year with 2 part time jobs as I did my first year of enlistment. The year prior to enlistment I made MORE! I wonder if these new joins in DEP realize during the first year of enlistment they spend it in training (if they are lucky enough to get a technical job), normally not allowed to have a car on base and are not eligible for certain pays because of their student status.

I am aware of Officers who have commissioned to help pay off their student loans. As far as I'm concerned, that is like indentured service. I am most impressed and proud to serve with those officers elevated from the enlisted ranks of E-5 thru Chief. They know sacrifice, they know what a watch is about, they know how to follow and they know how to lead.

To those who are only enlisting for the "money," I suggest you look deeper into yourself and find another more spiritual reason to sustain you while standing a 12 hour watch, in the rain with no umbrella.

"I would rather belong to a poor nation that was free than to a rich nation that had ceased to be in love with liberty."
~ Woodrow Wilson