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Making Adult Decisions – Thoughts on Navy ROTC

My son is seriously considering making a commitment to the United States Navy in exchange for a four year college scholarship. After graduation, he would give four years of full-time active duty service to the Navy as an officer. Of course he would have to be offered this scholarship, but after discussing his situation with the ROTC recruiter (test scores, GPA, extra-curricular activities, interests, etc.), it looks like he’s an excellent candidate.

I have to be honest, I have some mixed feelings about this whole situation.Seal_of_the_United_States_Department_of_the_Navy.svg

There are many positives, not the least of which is a “free” college education. He would graduate with a guaranteed first job, and, if he wanted to, a ready-made career. If he wanted to try something else after his four year commitment, he would enter the civilian workforce with four years of practical experience and a military background, which (I think) would make him a desirable candidate for most companies.

Additionally, he would graduate from college with no little to no debt, and he would have a built-in support and accountability system in place wherever he ends up in college. No doubt about it, there are plenty of benefits to and ROTC scholarship.

But then there’s the flip side. The four years (or more, if he chooses) afterward. The Navy will decide where he will live and what work he will do. Our nation is not at peace. Do I really want my son in the military when men and women are dying in combat?

I absolutely support him in this endeavor, but I did tell him that I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about sharing him with the United States Navy. His answer? “It’s not your decision to make.” He didn’t say it in a mean or sarcastic way. He just said it matter-of-factly. The thing is, he’s absolutely right. This is his decision to make. He’s decided to apply for the scholarship, and I’m pretty sure he’ll get it. I know it can be a very good thing for him, but it’s still a little bittersweet for me to realize that he’s old enough and mature enough to be making these types of decisions.