06. October 2006 · Comments Off on Why he wants it · Categories: General, GWOT, Home Front, Military, War

There is a program in the Army called the 09L Translator Aide Program. The point of 09L is to address a critical shortage of people who can speak Middle Eastern languages in the Army. If an applicant can speak one of about two dozen Middle Eastern languages they’re able to enlist for 09L regardless of their qualifications in several other areas such as education level and aptitude. It’s a wonderful program for the Army since it attracts people who posses a critical skill and who would otherwise be unable to serve in the military. And it’s also a valuable program for the first generation immigrants from the Middle East in that it allows them to serve their new home, possibly earn their citizenship while serving, and basically allowing those who pursue the program to become a bit more integrated into the nation. In a time when many immigrants from that part of the world refuse to assimilate into their new homes such integration may prove important years down the road. Or it may not.

This year I managed to find myself a member of the Afghan refugee community here in Phoenix who was interested in serving as a translator. He actually wanted to be a clerk but he didn’t qualify for that job so we went with the program for which he qualified. Because of my occasionally useful recruiting skills I was able to use my original applicant as a source for several of his friend who would later join. I’m currently working with one such indiviual.

This applicant is actually from Iraq, he knew my Afghan enlistee through school, and he bears some scars of his time in Iraq. I’ve been working with him for a while now, he’s a big guy and has been making slow progress in losing the excess weight. I enjoy working with him because, well, he’s someone who’s history makes me in getting him into the service. One day after having him run some stairs at the local stadium we talked and what he said was the sort of thing gets a recruiter’s heart motivated.

I’ll admit to cross posting this from my normal stomping grounds, but it was the sort of thing that never gets mention in the stories about people joining the military. I edited what he wrote for me to remove identifying info. Where I editted is marked with (DR:).

You asked me why I wanted to join the Army. It is simple. I want to join because it is the right thing to do. This country (DR: America) has taken my family in and did everything it could for us. We live in a nice house in a safe neighborhood. We have jobs and money and cars and we don’t worry about what we do. Me joining the Army is not a popular choice for some people in the refugees. They tell me I’m going to be harming my own country (DR: Iraq). They are wrong. I’ll be a translator. Americans are very smart, but they don’t understand our language like they do Spanish. They (DR: Soldiers in Iraq) are getting attacked and attacking because they don’t know who to talk to or how to talk to them. I can do that. I will be helping America and helping Iraq.

My father was a wanted man in Iraq. It’s why we left. He said things about Saddam and he was wanted. We came here with nothing and we were taken care of. My father has gone back to Iraq and has said things are 100% better. (DR: The town they’re from) is very safe and the people are happy now. Things work. There is electricity and markets and my father even bought a house for us for when we can go back. The only people who made this happen were America. Saddam was taken out by America when no one else would do it.

People in my community tell me I should not be in the Army because I will get killed. I tell them “So what?” (DR: Punctuation added) if I do. I will have died doing something good and my family will understand and they will thank me and know I was doing something I wanted to do. But I don’t think I will be killed. I will be with the Army and not just someone who isn’t in the Army. I don’t know if I will want to go back to Iraq if my family does. I like it in America. I want to get my citizenship and go to school. But I think I should be in the Army because if I don’t I will get all this without earning it.

This applicant is someone who I very much want to have in uniform. Not just because it’s my job as a recruiter to do so, but because he’s one of that percentage of recruits who really wants it. With luck he’ll be swearing in shortly and serving as a Soldier soon. Sooner the better.

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