Matt Grocott

In my previous column, I shared about our situation with our oldest and the recovery treatment he is receiving at a Christian based center called Teen Challenge. It is a 13-month program and, at the moment, he is about a third of the way through. “Thank you” to those who wrote with your regards for his recovery. My hope, honestly, is if someone out there is in need of a program for drug abuse recovery, they might look into Teen Challenge as an option.

With this story about our second son, the question is: How much can we be happy for him versus how much should we be concerned? 

Some of you may remember our youngest. Perhaps you saw him with us in San Carlos or remember him from sports. Certainly staff at City Hall would remember him because he often would go with me to retrieve my council mail. Folks also may have spotted him during a late night council meeting. He would sometimes sneak in with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate to give me during a short break. I can still picture his mom standing just outside the council chamber doors, watching as he marched up the aisle to the dais. Well, he is no longer “the little man” I used to call him. He is now a full-grown young man, towering over his mother and me and weighing a fit, 165 pounds. 

This past June, Daniel graduated high school and switched his part-time job at the lumberyard into full time. His not having plans to go to college did not surprise me. He was home-schooled for five years, so I knew particularly well his attitude about studying and test taking. He’s always had a good head on his shoulders but, at the same time, he was no bookworm. He did what he had to but not much more.

After high school, he looked around at his prospects and came to the conclusion he would pursue a trade. But which one? He considered becoming a welder, then an electrician and then, at one point, he was talking about the Fire Academy. He was having a difficult time deciding but he knew one thing for certain: As much as he enjoyed the lumberyard, he did not want to be working there the rest of his life; neither did he want to stay in the area without any solid career goals. 

A few months ago, he came home from work and announced he might join the Marines. It seemed to come out of the blue to us but apparently he had been in touch with a recruiter while still in high school.

When he shared with us his thought process, I was impressed. It came down to a simple equation: He could go to trade school and pay to learn a skill or he could join the Marines and, while learning a skill, be paid. Additionally, if he went to trade school, he’d still need to have a job to cover his expenses. In the Marines, all his expenses would be covered. Finally, during his enlistment, he’d be guaranteed a job. 

Of course, we had a lot of questions and, as Daniel’s decision became more certain, we invited his recruiting sergeant for a visit. Sgt. Edwards was happy to oblige and spent three hours with us sitting around the backyard fire pit, (the same one I mentioned in my previous column). 

During those three hours, he explained the whole process from application to boot camp, and from boot camp to deployment. Of the latter, he told us Daniel would likely have his choice of where he wanted to go, whether in the states or overseas. Sgt. Edward’s visit answered all our questions at the time and allayed most of our concerns.

Demonstrating how difficult it can be for a young person to make a decision while standing at a crossroads in life, our son ultimately chose a trade different than any of the ones mentioned above. He has contracted with the Marines to be an aeronautics mechanic. Very soon he will ship off to boot camp for three months.

To answer the question posed above, we are happy for our son. Joining the Marines has many advantages to set him off on a great career. We do, however, have our concerns. Concurrent with Daniel’s application process was the mismanaged pullout from Afghanistan and the senseless deaths of 11 Marines, one Navy hospitalman and an Army staff sergeant. We also are not comfortable with the ongoing debate over forced COVID vaccinations or the Critical Race Theory training General Milley defends. Before he signed, we asked Daniel to speak with three former Marines. All three echoed our concerns.

A former member of the San Carlos City Council and mayor, Matt Grocott has been involved in political policy on the Peninsula for 17 years. He can be reached by email at mattgrocott@comcast.net.

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(8) comments

DavidKristofferson

A good article until the inevitable right wing politics intruded in the final paragraph. The military has every right to require vaccinations. Soldiers are often together in close quarters. The military can’t afford to have units taken out just because someone “wants to be free to do whatever they want.” Clearly that attitude is the very antithesis of being in the military…

Ray Fowler

Hello, David

Haven't seen you in these pages for a while...

I have a different perspective. I didn't see Matt's column finishing with "inevitable right wing politics." Is criticism of the administration's botched Afghanistan withdrawal plan limited to those espousing "right wing politics"? Were you happy with the outcome?

A Marine recruit's father not being happy with the debate over mandatory COVID vaccinations in the military is not the same thing as saying military personnel should be free to choose whether they want to be vaccinated. Plus, being unhappy about mandatory vaccinations is not limited to persons espousing "right wing politics." Look at what's going on in New York... a state that voted 61% in favor of Joe Biden... they're looking at a health care worker shortage as a result of a mandatory vaccination policy. And let's not forget the resistance to vaccinations in minority communities... most of those folks can hardly be described as persons espousing "right wing politics."

That leaves CJCS Milley's pushing CRT on the military. "Clearly that attitude is the very antithesis of being in the military… "

DavidKristofferson

Hi Ray, I stopped looking at the Letters comments because, except for your responses, too many of the others were predictably ideological and stating my views repeatedly will not change those people’s minds. I just took the time, however, to respond to one letter today about the Afghanistan withdrawal, so you can find my response there if you are interested. I intend to make that one comment only though and not get sucked into endless debate.

I returned to this letter to see if there was a response to my comment above from Mr. Grocott. He is entitled to any opinion that he wants. My point was that the article was very interesting up until the abrupt shift of topic to politics in the last paragraph which Mr. Grocott seems to find hard to avoid even when his topic is primarily about the challenges of raising children.

Ray Fowler

Matt

You said your son has "a good head on his shoulders" and it looks like he made a good decision. When he finishes his first hitch, he will have a resume that most of his friends who went to college cannot touch. Some of those friends will still be working to complete a degree that may not be useful in the workplace.

Putting all that aside, your son will now be connected with a storied tradition that goes back to Tun Tavern through heroes like Chesty Puller and continues today. There's a reason our Marines are known as "the few, the proud."

Dirk van Ulden

Dear Matt - I appreciate your thoughtful descriptions of your sons' lives and what they are up to. As a father of two sons, I can also speak with experience although, fortunately, neither has struggled with having difficulty finding his ways. I do not support your youngest son's inclination to join the military. As a draftee in the 1960s, I experienced the results of the war in Vietnam which turned out to be a horrible waste of many young lives. After reading General McMasters' "Dereliction of Duty", it further confirmed my belief that most of our military interventions over the last 50 years are driven by bureaucrats, career officers and the industrial/military complex. The last attack on our country that did require military action could have been prevented if our bloated intelligence community had done its job. The recent debacle in Afghanistan is yet another example. I would not encourage my son to serve and have his life taken away through shear incompetence and callousness, particularly with the Biden gang in charge. Sorry to say this, but your son could serve this country and himself better by pursuing his dreams outside the corrupt and mismanaged military. I realize that these are strong words but I would use those if my own son were to consider joining the Marine Corps.

Matt Grocott

Thank you DIrk for expressing what I could not b/c of limited column space..

wlydecker

Your arguments seem to be less with the military and more with politicians, e.g. using the term "the Biden gang." BTW: you cite the "military industrial complex," which was taken from Eisenhower's farewell speech, if I recall correctly. Usually overlooked is that in the same address he warned against universities being part of this connection. I think it is fair to use the collective "military,industrial, academic complex." Soldiers do not want to go to war. They pay too high a price.

Ray Fowler

Hi, Dirk

I understand your position and the underlying sentiment...we agree. And I don't want Matt's son or anyone's son or daughter to go in harm's way because "bureaucrats, career officers and the industrial/military complex" want to line their pockets with taxpayers' money. While we do need a potent, flexible military ready to defend our national interests, we don't need more jingoistic adventurism.

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