Well, I see from the linked story, that the educational geniuses in Fairfax County have trodden heavily on their essential nether parts, yet again, in their demented crusade to shove critical race theory, or whatever it is called this week to disguise the whole rotten concept, down the throats of hapless students of all colors on the Pantone scale. This time around, they tried to foist off the concept of military dependents being somehow uniquely privileged.

Which is to laugh, hollowly. For in certain ways, military dependents do have privilege, although not quite on the same lavish scale as, say, the Obama daughters (upscale private school, frequent travel to exotic locations, residence in a series of luxurious mansions), the surviving Biden offspring (a dissolute, corrupt and depraved lifestyle tactfully overlooked by the national press and law enforcement), or Chelsea Clinton – the beneficiary of generous starting salaries for not doing much of anything, professionally.
Military dependents do have some privilege relative to their civilian peers – and I should note for the record that such dependents are likely to be all over the Pantone scale as regards skin color. They often have an opportunity to live for a couple of years in a foreign country where their active-duty parent has been stationed; to experience foreign travel, exotic food choices, to see museums and monuments that the children of civilians likely only see in textbooks. Very often the DOD schools they attend are smaller, and refreshingly free of educational idiocies like CRT, and tolerating juvenile thugs terrorizing the hallways and classrooms. Juvenile offenders in DOD schools are not tolerated or excused; nine out of ten the base commander will make it clear to a parent that their spawn have been bad, very, very bad. The families of military careerists tend to be tight and adaptable. There is support for military families – medical, social, educational, of a degree not often available to non-military families. Pay, if sometimes barely adequate for the very junior-ranking families, is usually sufficient to maintain a comfortable lifestyle at the higher ranks.
And that’s it for the positive privilege. The negative privileges are many – the regular moves involved in a military career for a start. It’s not unknown for a kid to rack up attendance at eight or ten different schools: my own daughter did sixth grade in four different elementary schools, for example. There are no constant long-term friendships among military dependents; everything can be changed in the blink of an eye by the arrival of a new set of orders. Separation from then extended family back in the home state of record is routine. So is separation from immediate parental units; an unaccompanied year-long tour of duty for the military parent, an extended military exercise or ship duty, or even deployment to a war zone. Death of a military parent on active duty, through accident, aircraft crash, or act of war is also a slightly heightened possibility for serving military.
I’m glad to see that the idiots responsible for this particular bit of educational malpractice are getting reamed. On another note, the actor Alec Baldwin – he who was responsible for making an orphan out of his cinematographer’s small son – is also getting legal heat from the family of a Marine killed during the debacle of the withdrawal from Kabul. Alec Baldwin – of whom I could not possibly think less – felt obliged to sic his social media followers on the family of Rylee McCullum, as one of McCullum’s sisters attended last year’s January 6th protest in Washington.
Discuss – power and privilege. Who has it – and who doesn’t.

18 thoughts on “Privileges”

  1. I remember hearing a story about either a general or his wife trying to rent a house off-base for a relatively short time and being told “we don’t rent to transient trash”…
    I remember growing up on AF bases in the 80s as being pretty great, but I don’t know how much was just that that was the last era when kids in general were allowed to roam free, regardless of being on base or not…
    I’ve always been told I seem oblivious to normal “class” marker sorts of signals, which I attribute to growing up on base. There of course were officer/enlisted differences, but I honestly don’t remember ever caring about that (it always seemed the enlisted kids were far more sensitive to that, and I guess kids whose parents were O6 and above, but neither applied to me).
    It must be very different for military kids now, compared to the pre-internet era. Even in the 80s and 90s, when you moved you might write a few letters to a few friends for a few months, but it invariably faded away. With social media now, it’s gotta be a lot easier to keep that communication going, which I suppose is both for better and worse.

  2. I dunno… TBH, even though I was a long-service career type, I saw little of the military school system, aside from periodic taskings to go “assist” them in various ways.

    Judging from some of the BS I had to mediate with my troops and observed in my fellow NCOs, I’d have to say that what I did observe was fairly ambivalent–Yeah, there were a lot of strong, supportive families, but… Sweet babblin’ baby Jesus, there was also a lot of sheer dysfunction going on.

    Guy I worked around, and then for? Absolutely an amazing leader, when viewed from the perspective of a junior NCO in a parallel platoon from his. He went on to run a company in the same battalion, and I was equally impressed with him in that role, whenever I had the pleasure of working around the guy or his company. Consummate senior NCO, never saw him raise his voice once, and I swear to God, I don’t think I ever saw him issue what I’d term a real order, either. Dude was operating on a whole other level, getting things done–I have never, ever seen an equivalent leadership style described or espoused anywhere, informally–It was “Leadership through Indirection”. He wanted something done? Where your average leader in his position would call in his subordinate leaders and issue orders, he’d merely wander around and “mention” things to people, and they’d suddenly start doing the things he wanted done. It was ‘effing bizarre to watch, as an outsider; he had this organizational ju-jitsu going on that you had to really step back from and go “What the hell just happened…? How did he do that?”. It’d usually be something you hadn’t paid attention to, some comment he’d dropped to a key non-leader sort of soldier, seemingly just in passing.

    I say that to tell you that when I later had an opportunity to work for the man in a staff job, I leapt at it. He was older, on the downward side of his career, but the same sort of amazing indirection was still there. Only other thing was, I got to see a lot more of the “rest of him” than I had before, getting to know his family situation a bit better. Now, you would think that someone with skills like his would have an equally amazing family situation going on, but… Oh, dear God–So much “not”.

    One of the first “outside duty” things I helped him out with was going to collect his son’s possessions from his apartment and putting them into storage with my truck. Why? His son was going to prison. Not state prison, either–Federal time for various and sundry little felonious acts. Later on, he was away from work for a bit, after taking a short holiday leave, and it turned out that his daughter, still living at home, had decided to invite half of the Crips gang that was trying to move in on Tacoma over for a house party, wherein some Bloods showed up, and… Yeah. House got stripped, basically. After that, I went over to visit one day, and he’s feeding the two Rottweilers his wife maintained. Before he goes outside to feed them, he sticks a .38 revolver in his back pocket, and when I raised my eyebrows, he casually remarked that he didn’t dare *not* take the pistol with him, ‘cos the dogs didn’t like him and were prone to attacking him when he went to feed them…

    Somewhere in there, it kinda dawned on me that “really amazing leader” doesn’t always equate to “successful parent”. Scales fell from eyes, etc., etc., etc..

    Before getting to know the “whole man”, I’d just always assumed that he had all aspects of his life together, firmly packed in a bag, and that any kids or dogs he was involved with would be shining exemplars of behavioral conditioning. In short, I expected a lot better than what I found…

    Interestingly, his deliberately chosen post-retirement career was to get a degree in psychology and counseling, and open a practice as a “family counselor”. Which, to be honest, sorta reminded me of one of my Mom’s professors at the University of Boulder, who taught child psychology and development, who’d never raised any kids of his own…

    I don’t think military schools are any vast hotbeds of “privilege” any more than any other school system–Other than the fact that to get into one, you’re already almost certainly coming from the more-or-less functional part of American society. Usually.

    The military has contiguity with the culture from whence it is recruited, is all I’m saying. It may look better-than-average, but that’s because you have actual standards applied and enforced (generally…) on the military members whose kids are in those vaunted DOD schools. If anything, I submit that the schools and those products of those schools really ought to be better than they are, but… Yeah.

    It’s all of a piece with the whole rise in general dysfunction and the rot of standards across American society as a whole.

  3. The leadership technique your guy was using, Kirk – was indeed one of those sneaky ones; where you carefully plant suggestions among the troops so subtly that they believe that your suggestion/wants are their original notion, and so they are much more invested in getting it done. Because they believe it’s their program. It’s a very sneaky, female-type method. I used it to good effect several times.
    But yeah – sometimes the people with it all together professionally have a wreck of a family life.
    Reminds me of the high school kid at Misawa in the late 1970s – he and some other HS kids were running a teenage prostitute ring, using dependent girls from their high school to turn tricks in the Navy barracks. I think he was kicked out of the country. The HS in Seoul when I was there had a problem with OTC Korean cold meds used for bad purposes among the HS kids there.
    As for privileges … my daughter read this, and reminded me of her first coherent memory: standing on the steps of the apartment house we lived in, in Athens – watching me kneel down and check the underside of my car for explosives. To her then, it was absolutely normal. Wasn’t until we got back to the states, eight or nine years later, that she realized – no, that was not normal.
    Not for anyone who wasn’t part of a Mafia crime family, anyway.

  4. In garrison, that “indirect leadership” thing isn’t entirely unknown; you see people doing it, from time to time. What made this character most impressive was that he’d be doing it out in the field, under tactical conditions. Which was, to say the least, amazing to see when you’re used to the regimented use of things like operations orders and mostly directive-style of command leadership. He’d just kinda wander around the bivouac site or whatever, casually talking to people, seemingly without real purpose–And, then, like that, his platoon would be mounted up and heading out on a mission, without any real orders having been issued by anyone, to include the LT. Meanwhile, everyone else would be yelling and gathering people together for formal orders processes…

    If you didn’t spend any time watching this guy, you really wouldn’t notice what they were up to, over in his platoon. But, when you got stuck in with them as an attachment, you’d be looking around in confusion for some sign of organization. You had to get used to one of the other squad leaders edging over to you and saying “Yeah, we need to get mounted up… We’re gonna be moving, here in a minute…”, and you’d be going “WTF? I didn’t see either the LT or the Platoon Sergeant telling anyone what to do…?”. Reality was, they’d passed the word by casually mentioning something to “one of the guys”, and the word had spread by osmosis.

    The other really weird thing was the low-key cult-like worship everyone who worked for him had. “Oh, Sergeant Hart wouldn’t like that…”, and that’d be the last time someone would try anything like that, because every one of those miscreant bastards over in “third herd” would cheerfully cut anyone’s throat for so much as garnering a frown from the man. There was no particular reason I could identify for any of that, either–It was a natural knack that he had. He made First Sergeant not long after I really started watching him, and the “cult of Hart” spread like a virus over there in Charlie Company. Guys in our old third platoon were reenlisting to get over to that company, which wasn’t even a re-enlistment incentive, really… The whole thing was just amazing to watch, if you were really aware of it, and it took place completely under the radar. I’d like to say I learned a lot watching him, but I’m afraid that what he had was some sort of innate “special sauce” that wasn’t really amenable to being learned. I was ecstatic to find out that I’d be working under him up at staff, years later, and that was when I found out he had that home life from hell. Completely took me by surprise–He was so deft, so assured running troops out in the tactical units we’d come from, and he navigated the rocks and shoals of politics on staff with similar ease and assurance. The fact that his kids and dogs were out of control? Huge surprise; I’d expected a lot different things, in that regard.

  5. They have the privilege of losing a loved one to the defense of the country, either temporarily during deployment or permanently in the form of a gravestone they have the privilege of visiting.

  6. Being a Cold War kid was a lot different than a GWOT kid, no doubt. My father was deployed to Saudi for 6 months in the early 90s, but not in combat.
    Those videos where returning fathers “surprise” their kids really bother me–every instant you keep your child worrying when/if their parent is coming home seems like extra cruelty…

  7. One area where military dependents were “privileged” was in prenatal care. About ten years ago, a study was published concerning prenatal care and its effect on maternal and child outcomes. Military members and dependents received identical prenatal care in military medical facilities. Results should have been identical but were not. Perinatal morbidity (birth weight, complications, etc.) varied by race and ethnicity. Black women had significantly worse results than white or Hispanic women. Hispanic had the least problems. Whites next. The reasons may be genetic or behavioral but they are not due to differences in care, I doubt that study could be published today.

  8. Mike: Military members/spouses presumably are on average younger and healthier than the average, no? Could that be some/most/all of it, if that wasn’t controlled properly? Another might be that the hospitals are probably more interventionist than normal.

  9. Observationally, I’d say that the differences likely stemmed from culture. The thing I noticed about the different ways the various ethnicities “processed pregnancy” was that if the docs told a white girl she needed to do “X” for a healthy baby, then she usually did “X”. Religiously. The black girls did not do that, and I speculate that there was a lot of distrust between the medical community and the black one, if only because of things like Tuskegee. I was cleaning out a desk where one of my formerly-pregnant black subordinates had worked from, once, and found her entire regimen of prescribed neonatal vitamins, unused, stuffed in the back of one of the drawers. So far as I could tell, she hadn’t broken seals on any of the bottles. This was a young lady who had a decent education, good work ethic, and all the rest. Her baby was healthy, though.

    You generally saw the same sort of thing with the males, but it was spread out among the ethnicities. Lots of guys get injured, but there’s always this subgroup of the injured that just don’t listen to the docs, at all–Will not follow the physical therapy regimens, continually abuse and over-stress themselves during recovery. That’s something that you might say is slightly more prevalent in the black community than other, but it’s pretty observable across all of them. Probably a solid third of the males outright ignore the docs, another third kinda-sorta does what they’re told to, without much real enthusiasm, and another third follows the guidance religiously. Guess who has better results?

    I’d speculate that the difference in outcome for pregnancies is largely due to this sort of thing, but it might be showing up more along ethnic lines than the other. Most males do not like listening to doctors, or seeking them out for care in the first place; women, on the other hand, have less problem going to them, but I kinda suspect that the “listens to” factor might be different when broken down along ethnic lines. From my observation, at least.

    No idea why hispanic women had the least problems, because I saw so few of those go through pregnancies. I will comment that the two women I knew who had the least complications of any, who I barely knew were even pregnant (did not work directly with them…) were, respectively, an Irish Catholic then-Major on her seventh kid, and a Navaho tribe Amerindian who, I’m pretty sure, did not ever even draw the pregnancy uniforms. The Major took and passed a full-on Physical Fitness test within a couple of weeks of birth, and passed it with a panache that put to shame many of the teenage males taking it. That woman was fit. The Navaho young lady went into labor on duty working as a mechanic, finished the job she was working on, went to the hospital, had the kid, and was back at work that same week, refusing to take leave. You rather got the impression that she’d have had the baby at work with her while she was turning wrenches, if they’d have let her. Zero drama, zero reaction or much of anything–It was like “OK, got to have the kid… Got a kid… No big deal…”. The whole thing was kind of “Where did so-and-so (I think her name was Begay, but…?) get a kid from? Wait… What? She was pregnant for the last nine months? WTF? I had no clue…”.

    In the old Westerns, the Amerindian women would just be having kids on the trail with no drama, no fuss, then get back to doing whatever they were doing nearly immediately. Having observed that IRL, I’m finding some of those stories more than plausible.

  10. I have absolutely no insight into military family life, but it seems like even disputing inclusion in this preposterous bingo card is arguing with these people on their own terms. They want everyone to be a victim so they can enfold them into their warm, controlling bosom.

    Also, the average household income in Fairfax county is almost $125k, compared to $67.5k for the nation. I’d venture to say that few of these kids ever “worried about food,” while many have their own bedroom and feel comfortable walking around outside. The purpose of the bingo card is to make them feel guilty so that they can renounce Red-Guard style, their parents, their heritage and their “lifestyle.”

  11. Mike: I think I misunderstood your point, I assumed you meant that military members had outcomes better than non-military. Didn’t pick up that it was looking at racial differences w/in military families.

  12. I have to be honest, though… Military medicine is so damn spotty that I’d hesitate to draw much from any data generated by it all. While it is better than what a lot of people have access to, it’s also dreadfully prone to oversight and outright incompetence. You can get amazing, state-of-the-art care, and then you can get outright malicious incompetence–And, sometimes in the same damn hospital.

  13. Thing is, that’s true about the entire “health care” system, you can remove the word “military” from your post and it’s still 100% accurate…

  14. What Kirk said, about military medicine – can be great, can be awful. I am seen now as a retiree at Brooke Army Medical Center, which is almost if not the crown jewel of Army medicine, and can’t say enough good things about how I have been treated there.
    But the year that I was at Yongsan AIG, I got so fed with the awful, indifferent medical care/sick call for E-6 and below at the troop clinic (which was only available in the mornings, and they routinely treated people appearing at it as if they were faking illnesses and injury to get out of work) that I would make an appointment in late afternoon, when my duty day was over, to see a doctor or PA at Osan AB. I’d rather ride a bus for an hour and back, rather than be met with the indifference and contempt dealt out at Army sick call.

  15. Kirk,

    We had an employee when we lived in rural Africa who’s pregnancy with just like your Navajo gal’s.

    We of course knew she was pregnant, but had no idea of the due date (neither did she, of course.). Well one day she didn’t show up for work and we started asking around… “Zerifa? Oh, she’s having her baby…”

  16. There is support for military families – medical, social, educational, of a degree not often available to non-military families.

    In my experience, the military chaplains were the best “pastors” I’ve ever encountered. They are filtered during military intake in some fashion I’m reluctant to investigate — but none of the chaplains I ever met got ordained after sending in a matchbook and $10, these were serious scholars. They shared facilities with other chaplains and so HAD to tolerate — even understand — other perspectives.

    I stood up for a buddy at his new son’s baptism/christening, and because he and his wife were a mixed couple (Methodist / Baptist) they had two chaplains preaching to all present the roots of the ceremony in Jewish traditions of circumcision, the Catholic process culminating in “confirmation/first communion”, the expectations of each of the present denominations of the new parents AND god-parents, and the promise that the God who could sort out the sinners from the saved in wartime would have little difficulty in welcoming a lamb of two flocks. Then they joked about how far out into the Jordan River one had to wade in order to get somebody’s head under how much water … Another friend, who had grown up as a preacher’s kid in the Salvation Army, did pre-marital counseling with the company chaplain, a Russian Orthodox priest. I myself, then Spec 4 “M”, once dropped into Chaplain Major “K”‘s office unexpectedly — well, he wasn’t expecting me; I had been instructed by LTC “J”‘s wife, Margie the choir director, to see “Herb” to pick up the guitar she’d arranged to lend me. He set aside a huge pile of paperwork and engaged me in pleasant gentle chat about life, the universe, everything, science fiction, my girlfriend, our drinking habits, upcoming deployments, lonely distant relatives, budgeting … It took about twenty minutes to dawn on me he was attempting to persuade me to unburden my soul of my trouble, and about that long for him to realize I was, for a person my age and circumstance, unusually untroubled. Then we had the joint problem of figuring out what had happened to, in his exact words, “Margie’s fucking guitar”. I’ve been involved in other pastoral counseling since, in decades of civilian life, but never with anyone as, apparently, concerned and thorough.

    It was a real privilege, in the old sense of that word, to realize how valuable are the American traditions of religious freedom, tolerance, mutual respect, and common understanding.

  17. Chaplains are either really, really good, or… Abysmal. I don’t think I ever ran into “mediocre”, ever…

    On the other hand, the general run of Chaplain’s Assistant types were usually the hardest-drinking, disreputable, and “likely to be involved, somehow…” miscreants in the unit. They never usually actually got into trouble, themselves, but they’d always be there, on the periphery, somehow involved. I don’t know why, either–And, it was the worse the higher the rank of said Chaplain’s Assistant got. Do not ask me what the Staff Sergeant Chaplain’s Assistant I shared deployment quarters got up to, but just take my word for it: The former Ranger battalion guys we had with us were appalled and dismayed. They also blamed him for leading some of their subordinates far, far astray, when we were granted passes to go downtown at the end of the exercise.

    You’ve really got to be trying to exceed yourself, when you appall former enlisted Ranger battalion types with your capacity for drink and misadventure.

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