first published on May 24, 2017 by Trevor
The military is rife with the poor life decisions of junior enlisted men, and their ridiculous exploits in marriage. There is the tale of the private who “unknowingly” married someone’s pregnant fiancé. There are those poor souls that marry a girl, who has given every possible warning that their only desire is to get the paycheck (the career dependent or dependopotamus). These are all examples of the supreme idiocy that races wild through the minds of men who are still wearing their first set of shower shoes. While they may be based in fact at their root, we rarely have the opportunity to gaze upon this stupidity in person.
It isn’t often that we are provided documented proof of the sort of lunacy that kick starts the urban legends that we all know and love. Luckily we have just that, documented proof, the full details of the latest lack in judgment can be found here. Basically a boot and his young wife leave town for two weeks. During that time someone calls animal control to report abuse. Animal control enters the home because of a foul odor; they find a dead dog, two dead cats in the freezer, and have to euthanize another dog on site. That isn’t the end of the story, they also remove 31 other dogs, 13 other cats, and I shit you not, one pig. Who needs legends when stuff like this is happening in real life?
You can’t make this crap up! It is the reason that every team leader loses his mind when one of his boots tells him that he is in love and is getting married. Small unit leaders wake up in cold sweats every night, thinking that their number got punched. They have nightmares about their boot who married the stripper with three kids, and that he finally got locked up for fighting at the strip club, where yes, his wife still works. These guys get a taste of freedom, they are big-dick killers now, and they lose their minds.
So Private Schmuckately goes looking for company for the first time since joining the military. Maybe he was never popular, or he is a virgin, every story is different. He gets himself into the first wet spot that won’t put up much of a fight, and he is a goner. Dollar signs flash before his eyes, and he starts to have grand illusions of his new truck and new house. He is in love and not just with Hunny boo boo, he is in love with the thought of getting out of the barracks. His buddies and leaders are all too aware that while he believes that he is riding that hog to freedom, she is riding him to the bank. When this marriage that is built on everything but love fails, the dummy is dumbfounded.
Even more frightening than the blistering pace that a boot takes from what should have been a one-night stand to marriage, is the debt that he accumulates. They can’t seem to spend money fast enough. With every local vender having knowledge of his guaranteed paycheck, he is able to spend 2 years of income in the blink of an eye. His entire enlistment will be spent watching his money fly away. Not just to high interest rate debt, but to his ex-wife as well. He will be forced to reenlist because he cant afford to go a week without pay, and he will be back where he started; in the barracks. If only the problems ended there, but they never do.
This young mans problems inevitably become someone else’s problems as well. Leaders are asked to control an uncontrollable situation, during and after the fallout. This is probably one of the greatest leadership challenges a team or squad leader will face. A young man gets married for the wrong reasons (and still thinks that his “freedom” was worth it all). He gets divorced while drowning in debt, then he moves back in to the barracks. Now someone with bigger things to worry about has to attempt to teach him the responsibility that he spent the last one to four years ignoring.
The lesson for these guys rarely gets learned; they ignore the consequences, and continue running in the same vicious circle. Like any good addict, they surround themselves with similar minded people with similar problems. All of them work hard to convince each other that they are in fact “living the dream”. Meanwhile everyone stands back in awe as they ruin their own lives, their kid’s lives, and all too often their own careers.
There is a reason that the Marine Corps had at one time prevented junior Marines from so much as buying a car, never the less getting married, until a certain rank was attained. Even then the marine would have to prove his financial ability to pay for said car; the same went for marriage. The goal being to instill responsibility before decisions are made, not after. It helped to prevent situations like the one above, or any of the other horror stories that we all know. It also prevented having a team leader wrestle with his debt because he is too ignorant to do it himself.
A Marine could buy a car without permission if he wanted, he just couldn’t bring it on base. The same goes for marriage, he can get married, but will still have to live in the barracks. Who wants a car that they have to take a taxi off base to drive? And no one is going to marry a random girl if he is still going to be stuck in the barracks.
This admittedly is no longer the case or even feasible; we live in a “have it now” world, and that is the problem. The need to have it all and have it right now overrides what little sensibility a young man has. He becomes the shining example of what not to do for everyone around him. For his lower level leadership, he is the stuff of horror stories. When you live like a man but act like a boy it eventually catches up to you. The money runs out, or as seen above, your luck runs out. Congratulations bud your famous, and for all of the wrong reasons. Thank God that you weren’t our boot.
As stated before, there was a policy in place for preventing young men from getting themselves in to overbearing financial and emotional situations. This would never fly today, society as a whole believes that an individual should do what they want, when they want. Imagine the outrage that would ensue if the military prevented a young man from buying a car. A backlash of biblical proportions would take place if something like that ever went public. Its fine if he cant buy one because he is smothered by debt, but not if someone tells him to save his money and wait a year. We only care about the now, regardless of the consequences. With this mindset we have tied the hands of leadership. They are forced to simply sit back and attempt to guide, but inevitably watch their subordinates make disastrous decisions.
The problem is that there are young men out there who have never so much as done their own laundry. Now they are off mommy’s tit and think that life is going to unroll before them like a red carpet. Responsibility be damned! He has every right to do whatever he wants, he is a man, and this is his life. We have no good means of preventing these situations, and they know it. Society has tied the hands of leadership, and it will never be able to effectively prevent these situations from occurring. All of the safety stand-downs in the world will not prevent a hardheaded boy from doing whatever he wants to do. Its unfortunate that their overwhelming power of idiocy ends up falling on someone else’s shoulders. Uncle Sam will always volunteer someone to bail them out, but hey, at least they are always good for laugh.