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One of the many reasons that I seldom mention my years in the Marine Corps is due to the cloud of enthusiastic and naive soon-to-be enlisted individuals that seems to materialize out of thin air whenever I let slip that sordid detail of my life. In fact, complete strangers will often pick me out of crowd, usually in the middle of a perfectly good story, to breathlessly announce the news of their imminent enlistment.

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I don’t know why.

Perhaps I emanate a field of pseudo-fatherhood that instills these young patriots with a reflexive need to make me proud. Perhaps there is a sign on my back or a sub-dermal tracking device that alerts them to my checkered past. Maybe I just have “the look.”

No matter how they find me, I always give the same advice:

“Don’t do it.”

Now, in the unlikely event that an eager young patriot is reading this post, please don’t think that I am mocking your dedication or passion. If you do successfully enlist, there will be many more qualified individuals who will gladly perform that service for you.

What I am saying is that if you feel an unexplainable need to serve your county in the armed forces, don’t follow the path of enlistment. Instead, go back to school, get your degree and go in as an officer.

This plan has several advantages to recommend it:

1. It gives you several additional years to come up with a better plan for your life.

2. If you still enter the service, it will give you a much better chance of having a military career that does not specialize in manual earth excavation.

3. Upon exiting the service you will have a much better chance of finding yourself on an actual career path.

Let’s focus on point number three.

It has been my observation that those who leave the military as an officer will usually be offered a company to run, or a perhaps a business unit, or at the very least an office.

However, if you leave the service as a person of enlistment, what you will most likely be offered is a broom.

Allow me to illustrate this insight with the following quite exciting, yet thoroughly fictional job interview:

Bob the Hiring Manager: So James, I see on your application here that you were recently discharged from the Marines.

Jarhead James: SIR,YES SIR!

Bob: There is really is no need for you to yell here in my office.

JJ: (Harsh whisper) Sir, yes sir!

Bob: Actually, we are rather informal here. Please call me Bob.

JJ: Bob, yes Bob!

Bob: (Grimaces) So what military qualifications do you bring to our company, James?

JJ: Bob, I’m a lean, mean, killing machine, Bob! I travel to exotic places, meet interesting people, and kill them, Bob!

Bob: Well there’s not a lot of need for killing around here. Except maybe the competition, if you know what I mean?

JJ: Bob, yes Bob! Just give me the grid coordinates this competition. I will eliminate the enemy threat!

Bob: Um, that won’t be necessary, We’ll just let the marketing department take care of that. So James, what exactly did you do in the military?

JJ: Well, I drove DOD VIPs from the LP and the OP to the COC in my Humvee, which was a drag since it didn’t have A/C or a CD and defiantly not HD and everyone had to be there ASAP–

Bob: Wow, that’s…really a lot of…impressive jargon. Too bad the legal department is full. (Squints slyly) What if I put you in change of our janitorial security forces? Would you like that?

JJ: Sir, Yes sir!

Bob: It’s Bob.

JJ: Bob, Yes Bob!

Bob: Your mission would be to seek out and destroy dirt and dust wherever they hide, and restore this facility to operational cleanliness. Would you be interested?

JJ: Bob Yes Bob! I’ll start immediately. I’ll come from the North and do a room by room sweep. I’ll get–

Bob: No, No. You can’t do it during the day. You will have to infiltrate by night and do your sweep under cover of darkness.

JJ: Bob, Yes Bob!

Bob: Good. See Miss Jalapeno on the way out, and she will give you all the necessary paperwork and your key to the broom closet.

JJ: Sir, Yes Sir! (Leaves)

Bob: (Collapses in exhaustion.)

And so friends, for the low price of four-or-more years of your youth, you too can train for a glamorous and lucrative career in the professional cleanliness industry.

Don’t waste your life in college. Get out, see the world, and give it a thorough dusting. The dream is not out of reach.

Operators are standing by, so go down to your local recruiting center today.