I had the pleasure of speaking to Larry Bailey on the phone the other day about another issue and he mentioned he was participating in conference or some such that had to do with retention within the SPECWAR communities. He mentioned a reenlistment bonus figure and I almost reflexively I blurted out “It’s not enough!”
Later I was reflecting on my outburst and my thoughts turned to General MacArthur’s Thayer Award Speech. You can find it here.
One line means a lot to me:
Yours is the profession of arms, the will to win, the sure knowledge that in war there is no substitute for victory, that if you lose, the Nation will be destroyed, that the very obsession of your public service must be duty, honor, country.
Yet the nation is obligated to pay something for this public service. Duty won’t make a house payment, Honor won’t put food on the table, and the Love of Country is no real substitute for the love of a family when that family life is disrupted.
I have no idea how to deal with this conundrum? If we raise their pay and benefits to the level my heart tells me we should, we risk creating a situation where Duty, Honor, Country play a lesser role… indeed, we are creating a mercenary force.