Why You Should Shut Up About the Two Girls Who Enlisted Infantry
By Paul J. O’Leary
The online veteran community has discovered something new to get its collective panties in a bunch about. It seems two 17-year-old young ladies from Texas have had the audacity to join the Army and…wait for it…sign up to be in the Infantry.
But, wait…it gets worse. One of the girls said “it’d be cool.”
And thus began another in a long line of virtual hand wringing by the toughest bastards on Instagram. A quick glance through a variety of traditional and social media outlets and you’ll find a variety of “last hardest class” and “glad I’m out” posts and comments.
It seems the online veteran community took a short break from shitting all over millennials for being lazy and entitled to shit all over these two millennials for not being lazy and entitled…but not bucking the trend in the prescribed manner.
I get it. The idea that Infantry training or a combat deployment will be fun is a juvenile and ridiculous idea…but the sentiment was expressed by two juveniles. Moreover, if you hang around Infantry veterans long enough, they’ll eventually tell you about how their basic training, Infantry training, and deployments were fun. More than that, they’ll also tell you how, in the big scheme of things, basic training wasn’t that hard at all.
17-year-old high school students say silly things. It’s part of being that age. Think back to your own days as a 17-year-old and try to remember some of the things you said about your expectations of the military, college, adulthood, parenting, marriage, or your future career. I’m pretty comfortable most of us can look back and be glad that there were no media outlets around to record and broadcast the things we said.
In all likelihood, these two girls are simply catching the brunt of people’s frustration over the recent changes in the military regarding gender restrictions and whether or not standards are being maintained without compromise or being lowered to achieve a social goal. And that’s a reasonable discussion to have, but the dreams and goals of these two high school students do not provide the venue for that discussion.
Do you think these two high school kids are responsible for the changing regulations? Do you think they lobbied their elected representatives? Funded million dollar super PACs to influence leaders?
They didn’t. They saw an opportunity to fulfill a dream, achieve a goal, or simply challenge themselves. And that’s a good thing. That’s what young people are supposed to do. You know what else? We expect them to be a little idealistic about what it means to achieve their goals. It’s called being young. Think back because most of us were there at one time or another.
I am not going to sit here and predict how successful or unsuccessful Shelby Sparkman and Hannah Carpenter will be next year when they graduate high school and report to Fort Benning for what will undoubtedly be the biggest challenge of their young lives. I have no way to assess that. They will succeed or fail for the same reasons thousands of teen and young adult Infantry recruits succeed or fail. No more, no less.
There is one distinction that warrants a mention, however. In a post-draft America, less than one percent of Americans make up our military. Less than one percent. But these two high school girls – part of the so-called entitled generation of millennials – raised their hands and swore an oath to defend this country against all enemies foreign and domestic.
So, why don’t we all collectively shut the fuck up about it and thank them for their willingness to step up and do the job that 99% of peers won’t do.