My advice to the youth of today: do NOT join the military

43 years ago today, I was on a train from Liverpool down to the West Country. I was 18, fresh from my A Levels, in full revolt against long term parental pressure to enter academia. Instead of going to university, I was joining the navy.

I wouldn’t do that again. I mean, apart from its violent and frightening ending, my career had been quite a good one. During its 19 years I developed abilities that enabled me to deal with the chaotic fallout after the ending. But of course if I hadn’t been there in the first place I wouldn’t have needed to deal with the fallout.

On the other hand, my wife-to-be was in the navy too. I’m glad we met. Our three daughters and four grandchildren are my delight. I wouldn’t have my family be any other way.

So my life has been what it’s been, and is what it is. Om.

What I’m here to say is that in today’s world, in our country now, I wouldn’t advise any youngsters to join the military. Governments are corrupt. Ours as much as others. Far more than many. They are the corrupt bastards who will send you to war, and the wars you’re sent to fight and die and get maimed in won’t be just wars. Not wars you will be proud of afterwards.

Look at how many thousands of former service personnel are living on our streets now. Many of them are mentally ill as a direct result of their service. Are they being looked after? No. Will you be looked after if you find yourself in that situation in 5 or 10 years? No.

Don’t fall for the MoD’s clever advertising campaign. Don’t do it.

Medal Melting

My sword has tasted blood
for causes of variable worth.
My blood has tasted battle.

My flesh has tasted metal
for men of dubious credentials.
My mettle has been tested.

I am only the latest in a long line of recruits
in ragged step with our forebears,
and my blood seethes with their fury.

Their battles rage within me.
The knowledge of their wars
shames me.

My blood mocks me for a mercenary,
for who else have I served
if not the thieves of my freedom?

My marrow is sick of my service.
I bear my aging wounds resignedly,
but I will wear their coin no more.

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