Recently I saw this picture floating around the facebooks:
This bothered me for the obvious reason that it was being thoughtlessly shared by most of my fellow army guys. This type of gung-ho propaganda is odious to me on the best of days, but something about this particular pic struck me deeper. I think I have finally figured out what aspect of it bothered me so.
First, let me ask a couple of questions:
Have you ever been deployed with the military to a war-zone?
Have you ever attended a post-secondary institution?
Many of you will answer “yes” to one of these questions. Many will answer “no” to both. A few will answer “yes” to both. I count myself among this last group, and thus consider myself well-informed to speak on this picture.
Basically, my feeling is that I have never been as stressed as I was in the middle of a busy semester. Even during my very worst times in Afghanistan (which were very mild compared to many others) I never dealt with the all-consuming stress of a full academic workload. I don’t expect military types with a high-school diploma or less to understand this (although maybe they should understand better than anyone because obviously school was kicking their ass), but the military existence, or at least the “grunt” existence which I am qualified to speak on, is relatively simplistic and stress-free. Let me illustrate the difference between these two lifestyles so you can better appreciate where I’m coming from.
Stresses of the Student Mid-Semester
-“How am I ever going to get out of this mountain of debt?”
-“I am never going to be able to read all of this assigned reading”
-“I have to stay up and keep refreshing the course-selection screen or I won’t get into this class I need, which means I will be ineligible for a masters, which means I will be homeless on the street”
-“Since my parents are helping me pay for my education they scrutinize all of my marks”
-“If I don’t make a good impression on this professor I won’t get into this program and will end up homeless”
-“I have to buy that book from the bookstore before it is sold out or else I fail and end up homeless”
-“I have to stay up all night and finish this assignment/studying otherwise I will fail and end up homeless on the street.”
-“I have to study, but if I don’t work I can’t make rent and I’m fucked”
-“Wow, I wish I was back at home; this whole being an adult shit sucks”
-“If I don’t pay $XXX by the end of the month I am going to get kicked out of school”
Now let’s contrast that with…
Stresses of the Deployed Soldier
-“I hope me and my friends don’t die or get injured today.”
Now I realize that there might be other concerns for the soldier, such as an overbearing NCM who insists you shave even though you’re in the fucking desert,