I've been okayed by The Powers That Be, so here goes:
In high school, not to brag, but it's relevant to what follows: I was a straight-A student, valedictorian (one of six my graduating year), with sky-high SATs, ACTs, etc.
In my senior year of high school, I aced the NROTC (Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps) exam, which qualified me for a four-year, full scholarship to the university (with a NROTC program) of my choice.
Then, I washed out, because my eyesight wasn't 20-20. I was near-sighted, and I guess that standards were higher back then.
Upon graduation, and unlike my high school buddies, who were all going off to good colleges and universities, affected by wanderlust and sense of adventure, I decided I would join the regular Navy.
I got up early one morning to take the physical exam and basic test battery at the Armed Forces Recruiting Station on Clark Street in downtown Chicago.
So there I was, stark naked, in the company of hundreds of other stark naked men (sheesh!), and ordered to follow the "yellow brick road" (yellow line) from medical station to medical station. Uh Oh #1: We were being treated like cattle. Doubt began to enter my mind: If given a stupid order, would I just obey it, or quarrel with the issuer? Being honest with myself, I realized it was the latter. Trouble!
Later, fully clothed, I took the Navy's basic aptitude test. Pictures and tools and the easiest sort of stuff. And I nearly flunked it! WTF!? Straight As, valedictorian. Several months earlier, I had taken one Navy test, the NROTC exam, which said I was smart and officer material. Now, I had taken the Navy's basic aptitude test, and the Navy had just pronounced me a doofus. Uh Oh #2: Had they mixed my test papers with somebody else's? Did the Right Hand of the Navy not know what the Left Hand was doing? What kind of Mickey Mouse outfit is this?
About that time, I read this gruesome story in Life Magazine about a poor soldier returning from Vietnam (this was 1970, you see) with his face essentially blown off. Uh Oh #3: Self explanatory.
I then decided: This just ain't going to work out. Lucky for me, I hadn't signed anything definite yet, so I backed out.
I went off to a really good university (with full scholarship, etc.) like all the rest of my friends. Unlike my new-found college friends and peers, they all opposed our involvement in the Vietnam War, while I supported it. (That was then; this is now. Let's not discuss it.) Funny thing is, their draft lottery numbers were all quite low, while mine was ~330, IIRC. Meaning to say, the war opponents were at risk of being drafted, while I was safe from the draft.
The war, and the draft, soon ended, and with it my near-military experience.
Several years later, now a graduate student, and stuck in the "professional student" rut, I still felt that wanderlust and sense of adventure that was, at root, the cause of my wanting to join the military. Ironically, I then joined ... the U.S. Peace Corps! Service to My Country (three years in the Philippines), albeit not military service.
(Amusing aside: Before shipping out as a Peace Corps Volunteer, I was in the process of applying to ... the CIA! It never went beyond the exam taking and application stage, but ... I'm glad that matter was dropped.)
After returning from my Peace Corps service with a Filipina wife (one of the Peace Corps' well-known "perks"), we went back to the Philippines some years later to adopt her nephew. We had fertility difficulties, had operations, etc., so adoption seemed our only option. While there, during our intended two-year wait, my wife ... became pregnant! We extended our stay for a third year, and my wife had our first-born, a daughter, there in the Philippines. Coming back to the States, we had our second "miracle baby," a son. I can't tell you how many stories I've heard of childless, "infertile" couples who adopt, then have natural born children of their own.
Anyway, when my oldest son (the adopted one) finished high school, he decided to enlist in the U.S. Marines. He is now into his 11th year, ranks as Staff Sergeant, and has two combat tours in Iraq under his belt (he commanded a RDF platoon in the Western Iraqi Desert). Can I share the "credit"--or blame?--for turning him onto the military? Perhaps. But he does now say that joining the Marines was one of the best things he ever did. He proudly serves his adopted country.
Some of us serve our countries, each in his or her own way.