35 Years of a Volunteer Force
July 1, 1973 the United States Military became an all volunteer force. Gone were the days of the conscription 0r 'The Draft'. For 35 years, through much of the Cold War, Panama, Greneda, Bosnia, Kosovo, Desert Storm, Somalia, and the Great War on Terror, every member of the military has been a volunteer. They stood up and said "Take Me." They raised their hands to take the oath and said "I mean it."
I remember July 1, 1973 vividly. There were many celebrations by the anti-war crowds, just as there were celebrations by the military crowds, though for quite different reasons. What started as a political victory for the anti Vietnam war crowd, has become the backbone and strength of our current military. I remember people believing that an all volunteer force would cause the disappearance of the military. What has happened has been quite different. It has created a strength of people that begins with them wanting to be where they are, united for a common goal. It has created a higher rate of re-enlistments and career soldiers.
I am proud to know so many of these volunteers. I was deeply touched when my favorite soldier shared that he had re-enlisted for life at Christmas while standing in the vast sands in the middle east. This SFC is on his second tour, which he volunteered to do. He is also a Reservist and gives up a very lucrative job and life to spend another year in the sandbox.
These are smart, ambitious people who are giving their lives to something larger than themselves. These are amazing men and women. They have made a commitment to our country... to each of us... to keep us safe and free. It is with the deepest gratitude that I say THANK YOU!