My husband and I both served in the United States Army. I can attest to a few things. Firstly, there is a definite class system. Officers are the educated elite and have their own code of ethics. Since most of these men and women are from an educated family background with intact families and/or moderate financial status, they often have better insight, discipline, and moral values. Most of the enlisted personnel are from broken homes, poverty, limited access to education, and have questionable values to begin with. Living with a few hundred 20 somethings in a barracks can be a cesspool of moral degradation. It would make you sick to know some of the things these people do. The NCO's are often the worst because they come from the same questionable background but now have certain amounts of power and prestige.
Also, certain people are drawn to certain branches. The Army, for example, is about 20% black. Most of these are enlisted. This brings a certain attitude and atmosphere to the ranks. About 15% of the entire military is also now female. And many of those are black. It's a good place for a black woman of limited means to get ahead, have a steady income and housing.
Also, at a certain point, Officers really can't get promoted without meeting certain criteria. Almost 75% of officers are married as opposed to the enlisted which sits about 40 or 50%. They are expected to get married and their wives are expected to participate in some organization or activity on post. It's a political thing, so to speak, where at a certain point, officers must campaign for promotion. They have parties and hob-nob. Perhaps this is why many men in politics got their start in the military.
Yes, the military uses it's enlisted personnel as guinea pigs. I honestly believe that if they drop biological weapons my husband and I will survive because we have probably been vaccinated against just about everything. The only thing you can refuse is a flu vaccine, if and only if you have had a past documented reaction to it.
Why do people even consider joining? It's obvious. Life in the military is often a better choice than scraping and scrapping for survival. It's sometimes a way out of a terrible life. There is discipline there of some sorts and if you play your cards right a certain level of security and protection. You have a steady paycheck, always have housing, have free medical care, and rarely lack for anything. Some people think in this economy the pay off is worth it.
For those considering becoming an officer, the choice is often to pay back student loans, get some training in specialized fields like pilots or intelligence, and for political aspirations.
Truth is in this economy, even having a skill such as carpentry or electrical wiring does not always put food on the table.
Our son, who graduates college in December, is trying to get accepted to OCS in the Navy. He's spoken to us at great length about it. We've prayed about it. And while we are aware of the many dangers and problems with the military, we are okay with his decision. He doesn't plan on making it a career, but hopes to serve about 8 years.
Probably unlike most here, I don't take either position that "yes, it's a great idea" or "no, stay away from the military at all costs." I think all factors must be considered. Perhaps it's a better living environment for some. I don't think for most, though, a "career" is what one should consider. It ages you before your time. It changes you. You have to be very strong to withstand the emotional and spiritual attacks you will face.
Also, I was in quite some time ago. Now homosexuals are freely admitted, and certain things that were not permitted those years ago are permitted now.
Generally speaking, I would say that unless you have a good plan and that you understand the bottom line, one should not join the military in any capacity.
What is the bottom line? You are expendable. You belong to the government. You will be placed in situations that will cause you direct harm, even death, for your government. Anyone who is opposed to this or who can't accept this, should not enlist nor take a commission.
FWIW, very few jobs today are conducive for traditional Catholics. If one is using this lone criteria for seeking employment, then one will either be greatly disappointed or unemployed. We no longer live in a society where moral values are respected or valued. Some careers, obviously, have more issues than others. But we do have to feed our families.
Young men are facing some hard times. I believe it's best to discuss these matters with both parents and priests. We must also be honest with ourselves about the world in which we live and our expectations.
Just my two cents....