What Tribe Do You Belong To?
Harry Alford

Thanks for Your Service

“Good Bye and Good Luck”

I’m not a veteran so take my words as a wild ass guess but it seems to me that the Military spends a lot of time, energy and money training young men and women to become tribalized. It’s a form of identity replacement programming for the purpose of creating a tribe of soldiers willing and able to live, act and die as warriors. The training cadets endure shapes not only their values but their humanity binding them in ways non-vets can’t ever understand.

The indoctrination process is criticized as brainwashing, personality deconstruction, the making of soldiers and killing machines. Well I don’t know about all that. But I do know that, whatever the intention behind the process, members of the military seem to posses many valued and admired traits such as loyalty, integrity, comraderie, a willingness to sacrifice and a committment to the greater good.

Veterans basically surrender their personal autonomy and desires and live in community with other soldiers in a shared mission of selflessness and sacrifice, willing to endure unspeakable conditions of deprivation, endurance, degredation and sacrifice. This is all in disregard of whatever reasons for enlistment that might have motivated them. It’s a huge and costly endeavor that our society undertakes for the safety and security of it’s citizens.(1)

Then, when someone high in the chain of command declares, “mission accomplished, time served,” we simply send them back to their homes without any de-programming or re-entry training and expect them to just re-integrate in some kind of intuitive by-the-boot-straps way that is almost destined to fail.

(1) I’m not addressing imperialism because I’m speaking about the experiences of the men and women who enlist, not the ways in which they may be simultaneously duped into serving the military industrial complex.

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