Why Is Getting Out of the U.S. Army So Tough?
Awhile back, there was a post here on Battleland featuring U.S. Army Private Daniel Houten, who was contrasting his service in the Israeli Defense Forces with that of the U.S. Army. Private Houten stated that he feels the U.S. Army is the best in the world. Largest, perhaps, but best? That is a judgment call, and having served in the U.S. Army Reserve, the Royal Naval Reserve, and now — as a commissioned army officer in the United Kingdom — I would beg to differ with Private Houten’s assessment.
My relationship with the U.S. Army was brief, profoundly disappointing and frustrating. What I witnessed is an Army that, instead of welcoming new soldiers and developing a true esprit de corps, treats new recruits harshly, almost like prisoners. In fact, I was informed by one member of my company who had served time that prison was actually more welcoming than the U.S. Army.
I quickly resolved that I wanted out, and informed my drill sergeant that I would like a separation. His response was that I should begin purposely “messing up” so that they could kick me out. This situation was bizarre in the extreme - both parties knew that the other was not a good fit, but legally there was no mechanism in place for the Army or myself to annul the enlistment contract.
Men and women of the U.S. armed forces sign an enlistment contract that binds them to service, generally for eight years. Unlike your average job contract however, this one gives the employer significantly more control over your working life. This contract, binding the service member to the armed forces under threat of imprisonment, is understood as necessary in order to ensure that military can reliably count on the majority of its members being deployable in the event of a national emergency