Happy birthday, all-volunteer force!

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon put out a news release today, and because I care about you guys, I pass it along:

“Forty years ago today,” it reads, “the Department of Defense implemented one of the most consequential and far-reaching changes in the history of America’s armed forces with the establishment of the all-volunteer force.

“... we recognize and thank the millions of men and women and their families who have served our country -- on active duty, in the reserves, and in the National Guard. ... They helped win the Cold War, stood against aggression in the Persian Gulf, kept peace in the Balkans, and put their lives on the line in Iraq and Afghanistan in the years since 9/11. They choose to serve our country because they believe in a cause that is bigger than themselves. They’ve always put the interests of the nation first, as have their families.”

So, if you’ve served in the past 40 years, congratulations. I’ve tried to tell family and friends who haven’t served that people in the military come from everywhere, from every circumstance, and their motivations for joining are their own.

Me? I wanted to get off a barstool and see the world. I did, and I’m eternally grateful for the chance to do just that. How about you — what made you want to join?

Twitter: @StripesDCchief


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