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I spent 8 years in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard out of a unit in Pittsburgh, and I ETS'd in 1992. I believe that things were a lot better in the military back then, because for most of my service we had an Administration and a Commander in Chief who had the highest respect and admiration for the military and for those individuals who wore the uniform. It continues to be no secret that the present administration has nothing but contempt for military institutions and has gone to great pains to neglect, delegitimize, demoralize, and thus hollow out our military force. This substantiates itself through continued budget cuts, aggressive base closings, a lack of a clear mission statement on a post-Cold War defense strategy, and a complete lack of will to achieve the 'strategy's' vaguest notions.

Please be patient as I am getting around to answering your question. The malaise that you described in your comments sounds very familiar to what many servicemen experienced in the military's post-Vietnam aftermath-- a demoralised force full of underachieving intellectual weaklings with a tendancy towards substance abuse. The Reagan Administration's attitude and focus on the military helped attract the country's best and brightest, of which Operation Desert Storm was the fulfillment of Reagan military build-up.

The point I am trying to make to you is that when we get a Commander-in-Chief who is sympathetic to the military's needs, and who displays reverence for its time-honored traditions, you will no longer have to ask yourself the question in your subject line, because your Commander-in-Chief will foster a structure and process under which you will be adequately paid, professionally challenged, and surrounded by highly motivated individuals.

P.S. The short answer as to why you joined was that you were a patriotic citizen, who thought it would be a fairly interesting way to make a living (or for reservists-- a monthly escape from a typically hum-drum life).

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