LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Parents, make military a viable option for your kids before college

With the end of the school year approaching, thoughts of young people graduating high school and setting their sights on their next steps as an adult (by legal standards) have been on my mind. I recently received a “Save the Date” card for the graduation party for my nephew. Customary tradition says that we should send a gift of money to help pay for my nephews’ college expenses. However, the reality is that no matter how many friends and relatives gift money to my nephew, the amount he receives will only make a dent in his overall costs over the next four years.

So, I started asking myself why so many parents push for their children to go to college immediately out of high school. More than that, as a 25-year female Army veteran, unless there is some physical or mental reason to prevent a high school graduate (without a record) from doing so, why wouldn’t parents offer their child another possible direction – join the service – any military service!

The first thing that comes to mind, I assume, is the fear of their child going to war and possibly sacrificing their life. Let’s put that fear into more focus. If the news media reported every fatal vehicle accident across the country of just people say, 18-25 years of age, parents would not allow their kids to drive until they were…. Well, they may never allow them to drive! Yes, Americans serving in the military die — we are at war. But the military works and trains very hard to avoid casualties and statically speaking, they do a very good job at it. Safety is an enormous priority both in training and in real-world situations for all military services. I really never felt safer than when I was in the Army.

I only want to point out some of the advantages between high school graduates going straight to college or joining the military and getting a college degree. Going straight to college right after finishing high school is fine but here is what you can expect (in most cases). Parents, your child will come out of college with a degree (if they graduate), however many times they change their major. Hopefully, they will be able to find a job that they can truly use that degree in the job rather than just to get them the job (think about that). In the end, either they or you will have incurred quite a debt that may take years to pay off.

On the other hand, if your child joins the military, they can have a wide variety of career choices that they will not only be able to begin gaining experience immediately, but the military will provide the education for as well. They can go to college for free! At the same time, they will be making a good wage, have 30 days paid vacation right from the start, all medical, dental, and eye expenses are paid for, they will grow, mature, gain confidence and independence through the discipline and direction the military provides. Best of all, they will have served the country they enjoy the benefits of living in. They will experience diversity and understand that Republican or Democrat, black or white, Californian or New Yorker, we all live in this country and want to protect our continuing pursuit of making this the greatest place to live on Earth.

— Becky Fredd, Churubusco