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When I was younger and less experienced in the world I used to believe like Furious Styles, a Black man had no place in a "White man's" military.
But years of observation both here and abroad changed my way of thinking.

I never joined the U.S. military but I know a lot of Black men and women who did and most of them came out better for it.
More disciplined, in better shape, family oriented, and most came out with skills.
There were a few horror stories, but the good seems to have outweighed the bad so far.

But even more importantly....
I don't want to live in a nation where the military has few if any Black people in it.
I want to make sure AfroAmericans are WELL REPRESENTED inside the military just incase you get a General or even Chief of Staff with extreme right wing and racist beliefs who'd attempt to use his powers to carry out some diabolical extermination plan.
We know some Black people may go along with the program, but I'm sure a great deal wouldn't.


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So you disagree with Muhammad Ali's position on serving in Vietnam?

If there were another military draft, do you think Black boys should be compelled to go? 

Do you think America has been completely justified in all of the military campaigns (killing) that has taken place in your life time?  If not do you think Black people are better off participating in these campaigns?

When you write:

"I know a lot of Black men and women who did and most of them came out better for it."

I'm forced to ask better than what?  Better than what they were before they went in, or better than what they would have been if they, say, went to college, gotten a decent job, or learned a trade.

I know I spend the day challenging everything you wrote today,
but I know you welcome your ideas being challenged
and are not treated by it or take it personally. 

@harry brown, did Sara and I read you correctly are you a Trump supporter>



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I know I spend the day challenging everything you wrote today,
but I know you welcome your ideas being challenged
and are not treated by it or take it personally

Lol....((shakes head))
I figured you were just bored.


So you disagree with Muhammad Ali's position on serving in Vietnam?

No, I actually agree with it because:
1. He was making a political statement revolving around the legal condition of AfroAmericans at that time.
2. He was confronting the policy of drafting people against their will.


If there were another military draft, do you think Black boys should be compelled to go?

Despite my firm belief that Black people should be well represented in all branches and at all levels of the U.S. military....I don't support a military draft policy.
One shouldn't be FORCED to take another's life except in direct self-defense.

Do you think America has been completely justified in all of the military campaigns (killing) that has taken place in your life time? If not do you think Black people are better off participating in these campaigns?

Ofcourse not.
Especially with regard to the wars in Iraq and Afganistan.
However I think the fact that men and women of all races are forced to participate in unjust wars says more about the public and what they allow their leaders to do than it does about the men and women in uniform doing the bidding of corrupt politicians.


When you write:

"I know a lot of Black men and women who did and most of them came out better for it."

I'm forced to ask better than what? Better than what they were before they went in, or better than what they would have been if they, say, went to college, gotten a decent job, or learned a trade.

All of thee above.
Most Black men and women I know who were in the military (and came out....as many have stayed and made a career out of it) came out with college education, skilled trades they wouldn't have learned in civilian life like being helicopter and air plane mechanics.

Even inside the miltary structure itself I've heard over and over again on how much fairer it seems to be and less racist than the "outside world".
Atleast in the miltary it's more about performance and whether you can get the job done or not than race or socials status.
It's the proverbial "equal playing field".

I'm sure CD Burns can bear me witness to much of this.

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No it is not boredom... shoot I can't remember the last time I was bored.  Maybe by challenging your ideas I'm really challenged my own.

Yes I've heard Chris and others who have been in the military extols the virtues of discipline that the military enforces, but I wonder how many of these folks were trigger pullers whose lives were actually on the line. 

You know the young men who come back only to commit suicide in numbers way out of proportion compared to the general population, or who suffer a lifetime of PTSD, or who were tragically maimed or killed...

Unfortunately, when we say a Brother is better off going into the military we are usually comparing it to a civilian experience in some ghetto, underemployed and struggling to survive. You and I both know people with options, bright futures, financial resources, don't just enlist.  

Honestly, if it because of this fact I wish they would bring back the draft.  Perhaps some of these legislators might make different decisions about wars knowing their rich kids would be the ones doging bullets in some dessert or jungle on the other side of the planet.

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I can take you to parts of Detroit (or Chicago or New York) where brothers are suffering from PTSD and never left their neighborhoods....lol.
They've been shot, stabbed, beat up...have seen and done the same to others and never had to sign their name on enlistment papers.

And I won't even get into the hell some of these brothers and sisters are catchins in the prisons and jails.
I just got through reading a good book by a brother Shaka Senghor who did 19 year and wrote about the unspeakable horrors he witnessed in penitentary.

Atleast when they go through it in the military they get SOME sort of promise of benefit for their physical and psychological suffering.
The U.S. military isn't my cup of tea, but atleast it seems to offer a way out for a lot of Black and Brown men who don't have the money, pull, or brains to make it in professional America.


One of the problems with bringing back the draft is rich and influencial people will ALWAYS find a way to keep their children out or atleast get them the easiest and safest position in service.

Look at what old man Bush was able to do for his son George W.
He sported around with fighter jets while the war was raging in Vietnam.

However in an ideal society which met all of our basic needs (universal healhcare, guaranteed shelter, ect..) I believe that all young men and women coming out of highschool should be required to do some sort of NATIONAL SERVICE for a couple years.

Options would include:
-military service
-helping feed the hungry in America and abroad
f-ighting wild fires
-caring for the sick in various hospitals and nursing homes

Not only would it be a show of gratitude for a great nation that protects and provides for you, but it would also teach young people valuable LIFE EXPERIENCE that they wouldn't get in college or working a menial job out of highschool.
Teach them discipline, how to cook their own food, do their own laundry, ect....

But again, under this CURRENT system I wouldn't support it because the influence of race and class are just too strong and rich White people would find a way to get their children in the nice cushy jobs while shitty ones would be left for the poor and Brown.

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Well it would not just be rich people, it would also be middle class folks who would complain too.

I think much of the aversion to Vietnam had more to do with the draft than the senseless killing of southeast asians.  Do you think Ali would have spoken out against the war so vigorously if he weren't forced to go himself?

Don't you think there would be at least a little more outrage against the protracted wars in the middle east if our sons and daughters were legally obligated to go?  You'd hardly know there is a war going on today, because people with options are not affected by the wars and people without options have no voice.  

Meanwhile the rich get richer, for wars mean money for the oligarchy, and if Black people believe going in the military is a good thing--it is better for the rich.  

Edited by Troy
correcting typos
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@Troy Most people both male and female join the military for the benefits it offers!  Enlistees will have a life time of free health care via the Veterans Administration, and disability benefits for a service connected injury not to mention burial benefits which include a free headstone. (Yes, the VA has become bogged down with bureaucracy but these benefits are still in force) Many enlistees become commissioned officers, which looks very good on a resume.  The "veterans  preference" designation is also a perk when applying for federal jobs. GI loans are available for those who want to buy a home and, - last but not least. veterans are eligible for free tuition  to go to college!  

History note:  John Kennedy was not receiving a Purple Heart while George W. Bush was in the National Guard.There's about a 30 years age difference between them and they served during 2 different wars.

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Cynique, if you had to guess, what percentage of enlistees, ultimately go on to become commissioned officers?  If I had to guess I would bet is is less than the number who have been killed in action, mained, and suffer from PTSD.

What percentage of vets do you think actually go on to complete college for free? I would be willing to bet that it is less than the number of homeless vets and vets whose families struggle to survive while they are deployed over seas.

Finally, you don't need to risk your life to get a mortgage. Again middle class people with options get mortgages without difficulty.

Look, I'm not saying the military, does not offer "benefits," I get that.  This is why so many thousands of poor people enlist. My problem is that these benefits are only beneficial to those with limited options.  Who wants a life that is not your own?  You are told when to get up, what to do, and precisely how to do it -- up to and including getting into the line of fire--and for what?  

I hope the answer is more than just the "benefits" you've described.  



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Military recruiters target high school graduates and are successful in signing them up because so many of these kids can't afford college but are college material and they are eager to take advantage of the free tuition benefit.  Plus ,everybody who joins the military does not end up in combat!    And not all of the officers in the services are graduates of military academies.  They come from among the rank and file enlistees, many of whom are college drops-outs, and are able to pass the test that qualifies them for Officers Training School,

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The military is still considered a great opportunity by most observers.  Many people have benefited from their tours of duty. Ask Chris Burns.  

Obviously you don't have to be in the military to be in jeopardy.  Civilian life is full of dangerous jobs and situations during war and peace time

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I went to the military because it offered an alternative to the path I was heading. Most of the guys that were in my boot camp company (they came from all walks of life) chose for a variety of reasons. There are too many reasons to list, but every one of us by the end of boot camp were proud of what we accomplished and felt an attachment to this country that I haven't lost. It's probably why I see so many positives in the country where a lot of people don't see the same positives. My service has influenced me to say on many occasions that all kids should serve in some capacity. I know this is a thought that is very confrontational and creates a ton of arguments, but the camaraderie and learning that is available surpasses any college instruction that a person can get on many levels. Particularly when I measure it against an AA or Bachelors.

There are different levels in the military of course. 

Officers hold degrees

Warrant Officers can have a degree, but it's not a necessity.

Non commissioned officers can pursue a degree and have a degree, but aren't commissioned officers. An enlisted guy can apply for Officer Candidate school while he is enlisted. It's rare to be accepted but it happens. A kid straight out of high school typically has to get an appointment to one of the Officer programs. This appointment typically comes from a congressman.

The military is an incredible opportunity for any person interested in serving. When I was 23 after I got out of the military my training allowed me to become a QA Analyst at Square D. I was earning right at 20 an hour or 50K a year without a college degree. I was sent to South Carolina for training and had I stayed with the company for 24 months, my pay would have increased to a salaried 60K and I could have topped out at about 80-100K throughout a 20 year career. Instead I went to college got an AA, BA, and MFA so that I could make a base salary of 30K as a college professor (50K as a high school teacher). Most of the guys I served with, I'm still in contact with and they are living very good lives post military. 

I think it's very hard for those who didn't serve to talk about the military. If you ask a guy with PTSD or who was hurt in the military if they would do it again, I think the majority would say yes.

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I'm not doing any research on this, but by "most" maybe a quarter are homeless and vets.

Okay I did some research just now: " In January 2014, communities across America identified 49,933 homeless veterans during point-in-time counts, which represents 8.6 percent of the total homeless population. This represents a substantial decrease (67.4 percent) in the number of homeless veterans counted only five years previously in 2009.i Though veterans continue to remain overrepresented in the homeless population in America,ii these recent decreases demonstrate the marked progress that has been made in ending veteran homelessness.http://www.endhomelessness.org/library/entry/fact-sheet-veteran-homelessness

I would explain this by saying (because I served for a total of 8 years, my sister served 10, her husband served, 20, and I can go down the list of veterans I know for my own evidence) the homeless vets failed to actually choose a school or a skill. A lot of guys go into the service without knowing what is available. After the first tour/duty station, you become aware of opportunities and at this point you can do what is called striking in the Navy/Marines. You can choose a school. I've seen first hand guys say, "F That" and just finish and get out. Without a doubt those guys are often infantrymen or guys without jobs so they leave without a skill and worse they are the guys who spend the majority of time in the trenches.

I am sure that the number drops considerably in the homeless ranks when you begin looking at those who had training/jobs and school.

Once again, being in the military gives you a certain amount of clarity when discussing this. Your being the family member has it's own "qualities" that are a factor and should be discussed, but in no way qualifies you to speak with the same certainty that a person who served can speak.

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Chris you appreciate the fact that the purpose of boot camp is indoctrination right?  It is no different than pledging a frat, you are broken down to be built back up again.  This is a necessary part of the process otherwise you'd have too much insubordination and a lack of unity. Anytime you go through a challenging experience with anyone bonds are formed and this of course is well understood by the military.

But if you assert and believe the argument, that you have to serve in order to speak on the issue.  i guess there is nothing a non military person can say to you that would influence you.

But you must appreciate that "you can't understand until you've done it" argument is flawed for several reasons.  i guess the biggest one is that people in the military disagree with each other.  My father served in the Navy, much longer than you served, 20 years.  One of the few things he ever said to me was "don't go into the military." He died at age 44. But that is just an anecdote as is all of your experience and the experiences of everyone else you know.

You can get much better insight by looking at the information you found: "...veterans continue to remain overrepresented in the homeless population in America." basically that says if you go into the military your chances of being homeless increase over that of the general population.  You don;t need to have served in the military to understand this.

Cynique wrote that enlisted men go into to become officers citing it as a benefit.  I knew that to be inaccurate, but I know her belief is part of what informs her opinion.

At the end of the day Chris, you spent 8 years in and had a great experience and that is terrific.  All I'm saying is not everyone has your experience, some even end up dead.

I'm also suggesting that many of the young people that sign up don't feel they have many other options, and I'd argue that is a problem of our culture.  In fact it sounds like you are one of those people. 

@CDBurns, what path were you headed down that made you join the military?  


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Everything about this subject is anecdotal.  For every recruit who didn't benefit from basic training, there is one who did. I've never met anybody who regretted their time spent in the military.  And there's no way of knowing whether homeless veterans have a negative view of their military experience or not. They may even be disappointed in themselves because they weren't able to maintain the discipline they'd been taught, And, of course, a great many homeless people are suffering from mental problems and whether they were in the military or not has nothing to do with their inability to function in a society where they are misfits.     

Chris' subjective generalizations are no more off-putting than injecting a bunch of data without considering extenuating circumstances.

The military is an American institution.  And just like all the others, is open for controversy. 


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Troy, like any group activity there is an indoctrination. Street gangs, frats, biker clubs, all deal with the process of fraternization. Trust me I get this. Your dad is much older and was in a different Navy. As a matter of fact that older group of guys talk about the blatant racism that existed in the Navy. I'm not naive about any of that. When people look at the military or any job, it doesn't matter what it is, people can find racism and difficult issues. It is what it is.

When I graduated I made some really bad decisions that landed me in Jail/juvi. I was temporarily placed in jail because I didn't have ID and once it was verified that I wasn't as old as I looked I was in Juvi. That's a crazy story, but I still made shitty choices after this and I was given an option. I chose to enter the Navy. Like I said, my company was filled with guys who had gone to college, worked jobs, had families and were older, all types. The choice to serve was varied.

Sara, It's not one upping, I don't care what you've done, if you weren't military you can't speak with certainty because you aren't that. Can you speak to the job you held, sure. Is that just as valid when addressing homelessness, of course, but I would never, ever claim to understand the job of someone that I haven't done. I think that's wrong. Troy, I can never say I understand what you go through running AALBC, because I haven't done that job. Do I get the challenges? Sure, but I can't speak with certainty about what you do or have done. That's all I'm saying. That's not one upping (Sara) or disregarding (Troy) what you have to say, it's just the honest truth in how I feel and how anyone who has done something that others haven't done whether it's military, or coaching a sport, or teaching. I mean damn Sara even said it herself, I can't speak to her job of working with veterans, but she can speak to my shit. FOH!

I swear writing something on this board is a waste of fucking time because Sara has worked in every job that exists and has evidence of everything so no one is ever right and everyone is trying to prove you (Sara) wrong. I don't give a fuck about you and what you've done. My name was brought up because someone asked if I found the military valuable. I said that I love the military and most of the people I know love the military and love this country. I also said, that the people who are homeless more than likely were the guys that served in the jobs where they didn't have a school or skill. (If you want to do the research to try to figure that out you can, but I am willing to bet that those guys who are homeless were the guys in infantry or in lower skilled jobs and quite frankly they would have probably ended up in that situation whether they were in the military or not).  There are 600,000 homeless people. 50,000 of them are veterans. There are on average a million people serving in the military at one time. Using homelessness to establish that the military is bad for people is kind of a damn stretch. Race would be a bigger factor which takes this dialogue right back to all of the issues on the other talks, racism. 

You guys are using homelessness as a way of disparaging the military and saying that it isn't good for people. If you don't like the military, that's cool. That's your right as a person who lives in the greatest nation in the world as far as I'm concerned. I think the military offers a very good education if you go for the jobs that you want on the outside. I think the military offers a great opportunity to gain an education after you leave the military. I think that it's a great option for someone who is unsure of what they want to do, but would like to gain direction and discipline. That is my right to think this way and be proud of my service and my experience. You have a right to think that the military leads to homelessness. I would say lack of education, and social issues lead to homelessness. The military is just one of the easiest things to analyze as it relates to homelessness. It's very straightforward. Someone says "Were you in the military?" Homeless person says, "Yes". I just tried to google/bing Homeless educators, homeless professional athletes, homeless factory workers and homeless social workers and you know what? No one is really doing any research on that. But if you search for race and homelessness, that appears to be the biggest factor. 

If Blacks are the majority of homeless, and Blacks make up a greater percentage of the lower level jobs in the military logically Veterans are going to be more homeless than other people so it's kind of a given right? Does this mean that the military is bad? No. Not to me. "45% of Homeless veterans are Black." 

The threads always go off topic, so I will end my rant here by saying I love the U.S. I love the military. That was the original question that was posed when my name came up.

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@Sara  LOL. Same ol, same ol. Your constant need to announce that you have outfoxed someone is a pathetic indication of what a desperate, mangy, deluded obnoxious creature you are. A big dummy  so scalped by black Seminole  BS, that you know nothing about current American history, and think JFK and George W. Bush were contemporaries. SMH


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@CDBurns, when talking about the military, or anything for that matter, we have to separate individual experiences from that of the whole group.  I don't doubt that you and many others have wonderful experiences in the military, but again those are just your opinions from your relatively narrow experience within the entire US Armed forces.

Like the proverbial blind men describing an elephant your experience doesn't make you wrong or right they are your experiences, I'm not judging you on that. How can I? I'm not you.  Even if I shared your identical experience in the military I would have come away with a completely different impression, because I'm not you.

What I'm talking about is the US military in general, looking across the entire service.  Now when you examine something with at such a high level, this has little to do with individual experiences.

It is like taking the average height of 100 people: it is possible to calculate an average height that none of people actually have.  That does not make the average height value useless because no one is that height.

So while there homelessness is higher for ex military personnel, than the general population, that does not mean you will be homeless if you join the military.  But the fact there is a higher propensity toward homelessness for the group is not a good thing, but you've suggested some causes that might be perfectly plausible

At the end of the day we need a military, but my problem is that I think we use it recklessly and spend too much money on it.  I also know the military industry complex is driving the spend because it is lucrative.  I seem to remember reading we spend more than the next 20 countries -- why?

I also don't like the fact that too many Black kids find the military is their only option.  I do know other Brothers my age that were given the choice between jail and the Military (one came out the Military and ended up in jail).  I don't think they give Brother that option anymore; cause locking Blackmen up is now lucrative too. . 

Finally I mentioned indoctrination, because since you've gone through it, it is harder for you to see things the way someone who has not gone through it. Do you see my point?  You are naturally less likely to be critical of the Military because you are part of it even was only 8 years.

As for Cynique, her motivation for being so uncyniquely defensive of the military and roping you into this conversation is less obvious.  I suspect it is a generational thing you know the folks old enough to remember WWII.  Knew what it was like to come together as a nation and fight Hitler, the Japanese c=and communism.  Rationing food and metal, women working the jobs men left behind, all that stuff the greatest generation is know for--I dunno Cynique what is it? 


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I do apologize for bringing Chris Burns into the conversation, but his story is such an inspiring one. And of course, it reinforces what I've heard from so many other guys down through the years who valued their time in the service. I am not  a patriotic cheer leader for the military.  I am simply viewing it from a pragmatic point of view, taking into account what veterans like Chris have said, and this includes my father, my brother, my husband, my sons and grand kids.

What mystifies me, Troy, is why you feel the need to lecture us about the imperfections of the Military, presumably because you despise how it  fights wars and kills people and demoralizes some of its members.  So what else is new?  Your being revolted by the Armed services  is like saying Religion is evil  and folks shouldn't join churches and invest their faith and money in greedy hypocritical leaders.  Or that  Education deserves a failing grade because children are not being taught effectively.  Or that Banks are bad and you shouldn't put your money in them because they can't be trusted. Or that  Newspapers are not reliable because they slant and sensationalize the news. Or that Government is corrupt and mistreats the common people.  Or that The Law does not dispense equal justice. Or that Marriage and the Family are obsolete and should be adapted to the life as it now exists. I could go on and on,  deconstructing the institutions that are the pillars of a structured society, -  which unfortunately provide grist for the mill of disillusioned Idealists who want to reform the world because it is not perfect.  Have at it.   

Armies have always been around; just like prostitution, the world's oldest profession. And these mainstays of "civilization"   aren't going away.  I understand that you consider all of the paragons I named as prime examples of how The Great Unwashed are exploited by The Powers That Be. BUT IT IS, WHAT IT IS.  Welcome to the world as it exists -  imperfect because it is the end result of flawed human beings.  

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I understand that my experience is my experience and for me to speak in general about the military can be considered shortsighted as it doesn't take in the research available on the military, but my experience is the only valid source that I trust because I know for a fact that when you search for military and homelessness there isn't any research that is broken down according to rate (job). Also like I said when discussing homelessness, people have the military as a baseline while there aren't any studies done on other jobs to give you a baseline. In other words there aren't any studies available on how many homeless writers there are, or how many homeless lawyers there are, etc. It's just too complex of a study. What I do know is that at any time there are 600,000 people homeless and of that number veterans make up 50,000 or so. Veterans do have a high rate of homelessness only because there really isn't a way of measuring what other large group of people are homeless.

That's why up above I said that I would be willing to bet that homelessness for veterans, if broken down by rate or lack of a job while in the military, would equate to those who are homeless after serving. Do you get what I'm saying? The people who tend to have shitty military experiences are often the guys who had jobs that were in the lower tier of the military. In the Navy, those without rates tied down air planes carrying around 5lb chains on a flight deck if they were airwing. You better believe those guys got out of the Navy after their first enlistment without any skills. In the Army and Marines those guys are infantrymen and we know how damaged they are because they are on the frontlines. These guys tend to be Black and Brown and probably they didn't perform well on their ASVABs and held crappy jobs. Now once they have experienced these crappy jobs I said up above they can strike or shoot for a school, but often those are the guys who get out pretty much in the same place they entered. So the problem is the studies are not concise at all. If 600,000 people are homeless is anyone taking a survey on what jobs where held? Probably not, but asking if a homeless person served is much easier than trying to find out if the person was a low income worker.

For example if you look up how many people are homeless due to foreclosure then you would see that a large number of homeless are actually there because they lost their homes. This number is higher than veterans, but the comparison isn't quite as biting because associating homelessness with the military is a way to speak against the military for those who would like the budget to be shifted somewhere else. This doesn't mean that I don't think that the budget shouldn't be shifted. This is my logic for why the focus on homelessness and veterans is so prevalent and why the studies avoid talking about the jobs held by most homeless veterans. If the studies took the time to analyze jobs held by veterans then it would open the door to the use of ignorance as a tool in recruitment which would decrease the number of people enlisting. (This is really the issue that needs to be addressed.) 

Your discussion on the military is common and I get it. Money should be used on education or any number of things, but it isn't. Nothing I can say here will fix that. The discussion that was begun however stated that you are more likely to be homeless if you are a veteran, or that 1 in 4 veterans are homeless. The thing is none of those studies take into consideration where the person came from prior to their enlistment and they definitely don't analyze the type of job that person had while serving.  Therefore these studies are flawed. All of them are flawed and they fail to get to the core of the issue of homelessness which is in direct correlation to a person who enlists being unaware of the options they have when enlisting. Does this use of ignorance take advantage of minorities? Yessir, but once again this is not just a military issue.

Not liking that the military is the only option is your right and you can give reasons for why you don't like it. 

I can give my own personal reasons why I think it is a very good option. This doesn't mean that I was indoctrinated in any way or programmed/brainwashed and that I'm not critical of the military, but none of you asked me to be critical and give my opinion on the problems. You connected homelessness to being a veteran and stated that the military was not a good option. I simply stated that from my experience of being in the Navy and having a lot of associates and family serve, the good far outweighs the bad. 

Good points Troy.

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“I'm forced to ask better than what?  Better than what they were before they went in, or better than what they would have been if they, say, went to college, gotten a decent job, or learned a trade.

Your question makes no sense Troy because you are comparing two different paths. Yes, for the most part, people who generally serve in the military are better after they leave the military than when were prior to entering the service for the most obvious reasons. Foremost is maturity. That is a given. Most people who enter the military will encounter responsibilities they never faced nor had before. It also affords them the opportunity to interact and develop relationships with people (whether professional or personal) that they would unlikely have because they will encounter various types of people and cultures from their travels, tours and deployments. I lived in the Philippines, Japan and Scotland. The people and experiences were completely different. People in the military encounter people from all walks of life, socioeconomic backgrounds, different races and ethnicities and professional levels. Such valuable and eye-opening experiences can never be overstated nor underestimated!

Depending on their scores, they can receive invaluable technical training, experience and security clearances that they could never get in the civilian world. Such experience and job codes can put you at the head of the line for employment. Trust me on this –I’VE BEEN ON BOTH SIDES OF THE FENCE! I KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT! If you care to debate this –bring it on! I can be very specific and definitive with my argument!

It also gives many young people their first experience of getting up on time and being at work. Most learn discipline. Something many never exercised in their life. For many young people, being in the military gives them the opportunity to have their first bank account, first checking account, first credit card, first technical education, first time to pay rent (and for some, their first home) or finance a car and their first experience in a foreign country. I can go on and on but I’m hoping you get the gist.

Now, when you say better than going to college, getting a decent job or learning a trade –THEY CAN GET ALL OF THE AFOREMENTIONED IN THE MILITARY!!!! PEOPLE DO IT ALL THE TIME! I PERSONALLY KNOW OF COUNTLESS FORMER MILITARY PEOPLE WHO DID EVERY SINGLE THING IN YOUR STATEMENT (COLLEGE, DECENT JOB AND A TRADE) So, to be honest bro Troy, I have no idea what you were attempting to suggest or say.

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SMH and LOL. I rest my case.  If anybody ever had any doubts about the mental stability of sarass,  reading the barf  of non sequiturs she stays up all night composing, dispenses all doubts.   She's an embarrassment to herself..    

Now, hopefully, the interesting debate about the pros and cons of the military, a discussion taking place between stable adults, can proceed without sarass' repeated attempts to prove that spraying for gnats doesn't work.  

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Xeon definitely nailed the positives in a much more concise manner that I overlooked because I tend to think people understand the positive aspects, but I think we all overlook the simple things. When I was in high school I wasn't taught to open a bank account. I used check cashing places. If we look in black neighborhoods this is a huge issue. Xeon is right. I didn't have a bank account until I went into the military. I was physically fit because I played sports, but my discipline was not there at all, which led to my problems after high school. I carried my issues into the Navy and while I still carried a lot of the problems I gained a better understanding of discipline which has guided me throughout my life. If I had tried to finish college after high school I would have failed miserably. After the Navy, college was a walk in the park. Xeon is right about college also. There are a ton of enrollment opportunities for military personnel... Like civilians though, military personnel often overlook these options. Good points Xeon.

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@Xeon, of course the question "Better than what?" makes sense to the statement, "I know a lot of Black men and women who did and most of them came out better."  In fact, that question ALWAYS makes that most sense when someone say that something is better or worse.

If you want to describe something as not making sense, lets look at your statement;

"...people who generally serve in the military are better after they leave the military than when were prior to entering the service for the most obvious reasons."

What is obvious about that?   We have already discussed that people in the military suffer from PTSD, homelessness, suicide, all at rates higher than people who did not go into the military. Your statement makes no sense in light of these facts. Also how can you be so confident that if people did something else with their time, like go to college, learn a trade, or just get a job, that they would be worse off than if they went into the military?  

As Chris mentioned the negative outcomes of military service has to do with the job you are in and other factors. And as already stated there are of course people who come out better as a result of Military service, Chris is an example.  However Chris' alternative was JAIL! I'd recommend anyone go into the military, every day of the week, if the option was jail.

I have one simple question for you Xeon: Do you think that all young men and women should serve in the military?


@Cynique, I'm not sure why you are accusing me of lecturing, and not anyone else, including yourself.. We are debating the issues and making arguments .  But I think I get why you are so defensive of my critique of the military.  I think you are receiving it as if I'm personally attacking all the men in your life who have served,

I'm not doing that.

Again, I'm not focusing on Individuals.  I like Chris, and am glad he had a great experience, but I'm not going to judge the entire armed forces on his experience, any more than I would judge it on the experience of my father's, who was able to show his premature death was related to his military service.

I'm also not sure why you use adjectives like "revolted" and "despised" in describing my feeling about the armed services.  I did not use these words, nor do I feel this way.  Indeed, I wrote that we NEED the military, because we do.  I'm only advocating that we treat the people better than we currently do.

But improving how we treat our military personnel will never improve if we all bury our heads in the sand and act like there aren't any problems that need correcting.  I also believe that Black men, in particular, are presented with so few options that the military is often their only decent choice. I don't feel this should be the case either.

So sure Cynique, that is the "world as it exists," but that does not mean we can't try to change it.

@CDBurns, interestingly I went to a high school that had a class that taught us little life skills, like writing a checks, banks account, even how to buy a used car.

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We had those classes, but it wasn't reinforced at home. I have to think even now those classes aren't reinforced at home which is why check cashing and pay day loan places exist in every low income neighborhood in the country.

It's interesting that the argument against the military is based on PTSD and homelessness... The reason I find it interesting is because we are very rarely confronted with analyzing other jobs in the same manner. There is only research on these matters as they relate to the military and like I said earlier this is because people who want to argue about the money being spent by the government spend more time creating these studies.

I would wager that there is more trauma and mental issues with ex NFL players than military personnel based on percentages. I would also wager there is more PTSD and homelessness among low income minorities. The problem is no one is studying it. I would also wager there is more PTSD among cops. I am sure you get what I'm saying. When the military is discussed it will always be easier to state the negative outcomes and impacts because it is being studied more often than other fields.

It goes without saying that we should treat homeless Vets and Vets with mental issues with more care, once again though Harry's comment initially that started this thread was that Black Vets should be memorialized. Troy you shifted that discussion to Ali and if Pioneer agreed or disagreed. I was fine lurking but my name was brought up about my experience. Troy you dug in your heels against the military by bringing up PTSD and homelessness as a reason that the military isn't good for Black folks. You supported what you said with studies and evidence. My goal was to tell you that those studies are inherently flawed and fail to really analyze what people are homeless that served. 

Troy if you can find somewhere in your research what was the rank and job of the homeless veterans I personally think you would have a stronger argument... but to me your position is based on propaganda that shapes the discussion on why the military is "horrible" or "bad" for people. The reason I call it propaganda is because if you want to do a study there has to be a true baseline, a control and that control has to be informed. This information below is the closest that comes to actually looking at the job and rank: http://greendoors.org/facts/veteran-homelessness.php

1. The vast majority of homeless veterans (96%) are single males from poor, disadvantaged communities. Homeless veterans have served in World War II, Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan), Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the military's anti-drug cultivation efforts in South America.

  • 2. The number of homeless female veterans is on the rise: in 2006, there were 150 homeless female veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars; in 2011, there were 1,700. That same year, 18% of homeless veterans assisted by the VA were women. Comparison studies conducted by HUD show that female veterans are two to three times more likely to be homeless than any other group in the US adult population.
  • 3. Veterans between the ages of 18 and 30 are twice as likely as adults in the general population to be homeless, and the risk of homelessness increases significantly among young veterans who are poor.
  • 4. Roughly 56% of all homeless veterans are African-American or Hispanic, despite only accounting for 12.8% and 15.4% of the U.S. population respectively.
  • 5. About 53% of individual homeless veterans have disabilities, compared with 41%of homeless non-veteran individuals.
  • 6. Half suffer from mental illness; two-thirds suffer from substance abuse problems; and many from dual diagnosis (which is defined as a person struggling with both mental illness and a substance abuse problem).
  • 7. Homeless veterans tend to experience homelessness longer than their non-veteran peers: Veterans spend an average of nearly six years homeless, compared to four years reported among non-veterans.

Now let's look at these facts and I will explain why I'm saying the studies need to discuss rank and job.

Number 1: 96% are males. Look at where they are from. When I brought up the ASVAB it was to show that the test scores were low which means that the people from the poor and disadvantage communities on average have lower test scores. This places them into grunt, infantry and no rate positions in the military. Also in number 1 there is attention placed on war time efforts where obviously the lower ranked military people are the first to fight. 

Number 2: Women veterans have it worse than any veterans. Why? Because the military is a sexist organization (but what isn't sexist in America?) This is compounded by the stress of the various branches. My squadron was the first to have a female pilot on a carrier and it was the first to have a female pilot die by crashing on a carrier. A lot of my shipmates have PTSD from that experience. It was traumatizing, but even more so for the women.

Number 3: Note the ages of the veterans. 18-30 are more than likely going to be your lower ranked guys. Which means that they hold the shit jobs. Which also goes back to what I said about these guys joining and not having a job and then not taking advantage of the ability to strike or find a job. If you add to this that most of them are from poor and disadvantaged communities. Homelessness was potentially on the plate anyway.

Number 4: Most homeless people are Black  or Brown. Most lower ranking people (by percentage) tend to be minorities.

Number 5: Remember when I said up there that Navy guys who didn't enter with a school carry chains? That chain carrying is 12 hours a day with a float coat on, a cranial, steel toe boots, gloves and the temperature is 100 plus on the flight deck in the Gulf. You are going to be disabled with those work hours. Is that slavery? Yes... but those positions are not meant to be done as a career. The service person has to start looking at jobs, but by the time you've done this for one cruise you are burned out and just want to leave. You go home and you're embarrassed and instead of going home, I've seen guys stay in San Diego where they can't afford to live. The end result becomes homelessness.

Number 6: Mental illness... see the above. Every guy I know took Motrin and drank at some point. I honestly can't imagine what the infantrymen and grunts do.

Number 7: See above

Now I did this because we have the numbers on it. If I were to counter your discussion on the military with this discussion "Kids should not play sports because pursuing professional athletics leads to homelessness" then I could look at the percentage of former professional players who are homeless and who have committed suicide and the numbers based on percentages would be mind blowing. The same can be said about students who enter law school or the become cops.

I guess the bottom line is I think you simply don't like the military and your father taught you that and Ali taught you that and the research has taught you that. We don't have an argument, we simply have opinions and that's all good when the dialogue remains focused. I'm with Harry though, Black Vets should be celebrated because being a vet is hard... being a Black vet is twice as hard.

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Troy, I framed my  responses to you the way I did because I was  "mystified" by your thinking it necessary to tell us that the military leaves a lot to be desired.  Everybody knows this. Nothing is perfect.   And I find what you attribute my motives for pointing out the benefits of the military to, as in apt as you find my use of the words "lecture" and "despise"  to describe your thoughts about this subject, - which were awash in an undercurrent of negativity.   I am not a flag-waving patriot who reveres the Military because I lived through the "Good" war, which was what World War 2 was known as.  I am indifferent about the military except where it concerns  what it can do for those in it, as opposed to what they can do for it.  In this case, my relatives just incidentally happened to be among those who capitalized off of its benefits. 

I'm all for trying to reform the ills of society, but I don't think there's a connection between the Military and the poor souls out there who can't find their niche in life.  Ministering to them is not the responsibility of the Military, it's the responsibility of Society at large.

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Here is a research report that summarizes more formerly some of the points I've raised here written here: Who Joins the Military?: A Look at Race, Class, and Immigration Status, it is 23 pages long.  It is an academic research paper so I don't expect most of y'all to read it but it if will give you some insight of where I'm coming from.  If anyone wants to discuss it please start another conversation.

Chris, I do know that there have been studies about the dangers in other occupations, I'm sure you seen the list that pop up every year saying which occupations are most dangerous.  Solider is number 5 or 6 behind construction worker.

But to your point (and others) not every person in the service is a "trigger puller," so roles outside of combat may be even safer than working as a teacher in an inner city neighborhood.   But I think you understand where I'm coming from.

Cynique I'm not sure why you are mystified after reading some of the posts which included statements like; 

"...I want to make sure AfroAmericans are WELL REPRESENTED inside the military," or "The military is still considered a great opportunity by most observers," or "My service has influenced me to say on many occasions that all kids should serve in some capacity," or "Such valuable and eye-opening experiences can never be overstated nor underestimated!"

Now I appreciate I cherry picked lines, but they are completely in line with the sentiments of the complete statements.

You say my statements were "awash in an undercurrent of negativity," I think this is more a reflection of your sentiments than of what I actually wrote.  To be clear if you find a representative statement that I wrote that was awash in negativity I'll address it or admit that you might be right.

Keep in mind that like most Black people I have too have family members that are ex or current military too, some have done very well for themselves others not so. 

But again my point is that in a country as wealthy as America we have to be able to provide better options, for Black men in particular, than jail, the military, some low wage job, or unemployment (maybe this is one of those statement awash in negativity?).  

Of course I realize Black men have the option of going to college and go, I also realize that Black  people can enter the armed services and do well for themselves.  

Bu the reality is 17% of Black men actually get college degrees, while 33% can expect to spend some time in jail. Of course many of the incarcerated also have degrees but still the number speak for themselves.  

It is hard to determine with information I can find quickly if military service has any impact on the above. For example how many men avoided jail as a result of military service and how many men when to college as a result of military service and vice-versa (how many did not go to college or ended up in jail because of military service).  Maybe the data has never been collected 

One last thought, at the risk of being too negative; we have surveys from Pew research which show the majority of Female veterans -- of all colors found the following:

women veterans are more critical than their male counterparts of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—fully 63% say the Iraq war was not worth fighting and 54% say Afghanistan has not been worth it (compared with 47% and 39% of male veterans, respectively). Among the general public, by contrast, there are no significant differences by gender in the share who say the post-9/11 wars were not worth fighting.

So while my primary focus has been on men, women, Black ones in particular need more support, and not to rain on everyone's parade, but did we even address the overwhelming incidence of rapes in the military?





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@TroyI don't know, it just seemed out of character for you to zero in on the military to criticize when there are so many other areas that not only don't offer any opportunities at all for black youth but are havens for the negative aspects of the military.  You appeared almost resentful that others would defend enlisting in the service and it seemed like a personal thing.  

I think it was a good enlightening debate and, in my opinion, was a draw.  You held your own and Chris and Xeon did a good job of stating their position.  My input was just anecdotal.

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LOL!  Actually Chris did bring data into the mix. 

But i don't think it is personal with me... ah maybe it is, how could it not be?

Cynique did you see the 2nd episode of Roots? Kunta escaped to fight with the British? 

If you read the research I shared you'll see that poor, under educated, Black men disproportionate serve in the military.  As discussed it is a perfectly rational decision because options for these brother are very limited.  Kunta's options were limited too so he was was anxious to fight for the British, at least until he saw how he and the others were being used. Some left, some stayed and died, and some survived and got their freedom.

Is it really so different today?

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Lol @ the exchange between CD and Sara.........

It reminds staff meetings where you see those highly intellectual brothers who pretty much keep their emotions under control but there's always a sista who knows how to make him go "pop".
Next thing you know he's cussing and sweating in the forehead....LOL.


Allow me to just go back to my original point.
The military offers a lot of benefits to Black youth from backgrounds of poverty who ordinarily would have few chances of improving their condition...that's undeniable regardless of the drawbacks experiences by thousands of vets; however that's not the MAIN reason I support Black people having a significant presence through out all branches and in all levels of the military.

The main reason I support it is because this is OUR nation (whether or not we're treated like it is) and it would be wise for us to make sure there's a BLACK PRESENCE in almost all of this nation's institutions to ensure that White supremacy doesn't entrench itself in them.

I support more Blacks joining the local police and sheriff's departments, FBI, and other law enforcement agencies for the very same reason.  If we're going to live in this nation we should have as strong of an influence as possible in all of it's operations in order to protect ourselves and our interests.



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