I am a product of the "all volunteer" army. I enlisted at the age of 23, after I had a college degree, and while I was in law school. I had always felt (still do) that every capable citizen owes a debt to their country to serve (in some capacity) for the betterment of the nation and their fellow citizens. I didn't object to military service, so that is what I chose (rather than VISTA, or Peace Corps, or Red Cross). I had no idea when I joined that it would end up being a career.

I spent half my time on Active Duty, and half as a Reservist. I started as a Private First Class, and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel. When I joined it had been an "all volunteer" army for ten years, so I served with Vietnam-era draftees and volunteers alike (two of my drill sergeants were Vietnam draftees who stayed on for a career). But, don't get the idea that it is, even now, "all volunteer". There are many reasons why people "volunteer". Some, out of patriotism or duty, some out of "family habit", some to escape gangs or poverty, some for the benefits (college, retirement, and including citizenship), some for a career based on merit, some to challenge themselves. In some cases "volunteering" is the easier call, or better option. None (that I knew) volunteered to be mercenaries.

Military people, and their families, detest war and see it as both a last resort and a necessary evil. That's why you see so many Generals and former Generals resisting military intervention. They know the cost and, many have experienced it first hand. Though I was never deployed to combat (even when I volunteered to), I lost friends and colleagues in violent deaths in conflicts. Because of this shared experience, military families and communities are close-knit. It's also why they are particularly patriotic and passionate - they seek meaning in that sacrifice.

To me these issues are not academic, they are personal. It is true that the draft "broadens" the community that experiences military service, but a) why inflict pain randomly? and b) why would we need a draft now? We have as many service members as we need, and they are really, really good because they are motivated. It is also true that the military community is becoming more isolated and suffers privately and separately. That plight needs to be better understood and shared, but not by inflicting it on others.

I'm getting a little wordy. More thoughts later.