I’ve been thinking a lot about the decision to go the officer route, and the more I talk to people, the more it seems like I made the right choice. Oh, there’s still a small part of me that wants the chevrons (and the ACUs), but most of me is thrilled about the butter bars (and the khakis).
[As an unrelated sidenote, I heard they are phasing out the working khakis at OCS, and I'll be wearing the new NWU while I'm there. I don't know how I feel about that uniform yet. I like the idea of camo, but why is it blue? If I fall off a carrier, do I want to blend into the water?]
Yesterday, Chris got his DLPT scores and some people from his class went out to celebrate afterward at some of the fine establishments on Alvarado. At some point in that night, the conversation turned to officers and how enlisted people get screwed over by them a lot of the time. Then, the conversation went to exactly where it always goes: The best officers are the ones who are enlisted first. You could almost see the light bulb over the Marine’s head when he remembered who he was sitting next to: someone who is not and will not ever be enlisted before she becomes an officer. Someone else butted in and said, “No, there are good officers who never enlisted and crappy officers who are prior enlisted,” but the Marine qualified his statement as follows, “Not you. You’ll be fine, because you hang out with enlisted people and you know us and you have him [i.e. the boyfriend] to remind you what it’s like. The problem is the people who come straight out of college and have no experience with the military at all.”
I appreciated that qualification a lot. And I agree with it: the problem isn’t just that some people were never enlisted, it’s that they have never been exposed to the military and aren’t willing to learn how the military functions on both the enlisted and officer side. Don’t get me wrong — I don’t think in any way that my vicarious enlisted military experience is equivalent to actually being enlisted. BUT I do think that it has given me an appreciation for some of the common complaints about officers. Anyone who knows me should know that I would never let the authority go to my head, or assume that I’m better than anyone because I have a commission or that I know more about the military than someone who’s been in for six years.
And that whole “you get more respect if you’ve been enlisted first” business? I think that while it is possible that enlisted people might be more inclined to respect or like a prior-enlisted officer right off the bat, they would (or should) forget about whatever background the officer has and evaluate him on his character and abilities as they become apparent.
A friend who’s a sergeant in the Army told me that she’s sure I will be a great officer and that the military needs officers like me. I shall try my very best to live up to her expectations…