I haven't even started basic training yet (Feb 14th) but all this hate about the forces began before I even applied, and I was fully aware of it. I was working as a non-union electrician who needed a cell phone for on-calls more than I needed my pliers at some times.
I won't tell you why I am am staying, but rather why I joined.
I started my electrical apprenticeship about 2 years ago today and it changed my life. I had a crumby job prior to that and I was sure that this was the break that I had been looking for. I did poorly in high school. As a matter of fact, I was there for 6 years (I know) and didn't even graduate (yes, I know). But the fact that I had started a career had motivated me, and when I went to trade school I blew my classmates out of the water. I had achieved grades that I never knew I was capable of. I was the top of my electronics and theory class. All because I was in a program that was relevant to my interests and career.
Growing up, I had always been interested in the forces, especially the Navy. I was a huge fisherman by 20. I love fishing, but I got the biggest rise out of being on a boat. I loved that feeling of crashing waves in my boat, and would laugh at a thunderstorm while my buddies hit the deck.
Herein lies the transition. I knew that I could only go so far with my job, and I knew that I could only go so far with my nautical hobby so why not combine them? And I did. I applied to the Navy and got a job.
I know that regardless of equipment deficiencies, pension deficits, lack of funding, etc, that I am becoming part of a history, part of a tradition, part of a team and (sorry to get murica but..) part of a country that will lay down his life to protect the very people that help make it the greatest damn place on this earth.
I am about to receive the best training in the world, and I almost feel bad for getting paid for it. I will wear that leaf on my chest, and serve what it stands for, until the next young person is ready to take my place.