I would like to hear from anyone out there who is of the all volunteer generation who served.
US Army 84-87.
I joined because I had my first BS degree and there were no jobs for Earth scientists/engineers. So I looked into the air force, navy and army. The air force said 6, navy said 4, army said 3. I thought 3 sounds good to me. Went to boot, OCS, last to get booted, but still had to do 3. Should have joined air force or navy, more about brains than brawn.
Wound up in intelligence but mostly did paperwork, like processing security clearances for the 864th Engr Battalion. The occasional work for G2 at 9th ID and I Corps was more interesting, at least it beat pounding the pavement like an infantryman.
Even though, things didn't quite work according to plan, I have no real regrets. No wars at time, so was lucky in that regard, but sure heard a lot about Vietnam, being in contact with so many lifers.
The experience had its good and bad points. Felt good about giving something back, bad about losing 3 years of life in unpleasant job instead of grad school. Met people from world-over in various uniforms, some borderline geniuses, some of lesser ability, not unlike unsheltered life in general. But at least feel respect for all for serving in a difficult and often boring job that not just anyone could handle.
Doubtful would do same thing today as I feel top leadership too incompetent to win and too wasteful of resources, human and financial, to even care in the least. Back when I served did feel communism had to be stopped, and I'd say at least as a threat to this nation, was pretty much stopped cold. Although I was and am not a great supporter of Reagan, at least the top leadership was not as incompetent as at present. They were basically smart enough to stay out of war, yet still achieve goals.
Sure felt fortunate there was no war, the people who served at those times deserve the most thanks as their sacrifice was and is much greater.
And this Iraq war? It is sad. Very sad. Most gung-ho patriots out there haven't the slightest idea what a battle field looks like or smells like. Carnage is pixels on a TV screen. You have no idea. You just don't. I find it interesting that some of the greatest "peace-niks" are in fact the top brass of our military. They know.