Anti-Military Folks are People, Too


“Everybody who goes into the military is stupid,” a fellow student told Marine infantryman Scott Hakim. “That’s why they joined the military instead of going to college.”

In a recent NBC News story about anti-military bias on US college campuses, Hakim recounted how he heard these words in class at Rutgers University.  Being a Marine vet, the guy pretty much considered it a challenge before the whole human race that he was not gonna lose. Cue epic rock ballad by Queen.

The anti-military student failed the test.  Hakim earned the top score.

“I guess I proved her wrong,” Hakim said. “It wasn’t a me-versus-her thing, more like: Maybe now she realizes how idiotic her statement was.”

Hakim is the only student to be surprised by anti-military bias. Although colleges are doing their best to attract GI Bill dollars, anti-military sentiment does pop up from time to time on campuses.

The new anti-military bias isn’t like the anti-Vietnam war protests and marches organized by Students for a Democratic Society in the Sixties. Instead, anti-war sentiment in the 21st century is more likely to take place classroom discussions, in conversation, or anonymously online.

Personally, I was appalled to run into anti-military sentiment in my grad school classes. I had one class on war and media in which we spent the entire semester reading about the evil that military men do.  Not a class went by in which someone did not mention the way we “privilege” the military.

And me, being me, I had to put up that fight.  It was a fight in which I was the only participant.  No one else in the class thought any part of their anti-military sentiment was in dispute.

Since I was raised military, married military and work military, this was a real shocker to me. I thought we Americans all pretty much agreed that our military members were—if not heroic—at least hard workers.

Instead, my classmates seemed to think that military members and their families were the poor downtrodden who had no other choice but to enter the military.  They saw the military as sort of the Dickensian workhouse of our times. They thought military members were stupid.

Whaa??  When I protested, one of my professors asked me to examine what there was to learn in this situation.

That other people are idiots was not at all what she meant.

Instead, she meant for me to look up and see that there were a lot of people in the world who did not agree with me on the subject of the military. Some of the research and opinion on military was so off-base it was ridiculous. Yet some of these anti-war writers were relevant, thoughtful, enlightening.  Their scholarship shaped my thinking about the military.

No wonder I consider my encounters with anti-military bias as one of the most relevant parts of my education.  Seeing the haters in all their glory on campus let me know that they exist in the real world, too. I didn’t know that.

When we put together programming and when set budgets and when we hire civilians to work with military members, we have to know that some of the participants will be philosophically anti-military.

Not everyone will be on my bandwagon with me.  That is no reason to be bitter.  No reason to try to convince everyone to believe what I believe.  Instead, I’m with Hakim.  I pretty much consider bringing the best I have to my education and my profession as a challenge before the whole human race. Cue Queen.

About the Author

Jacey Eckhart
Jacey Eckhart is the former Director of Spouse and Family Programs for Since 1996, Eckhart’s take on military families has been featured in her syndicated column, her book The Homefront Club, and her award winning CDs These Boots and I Married a Spartan?? Most recently she has been featured as a military family subject matter expert on NBC Dateline, CBS morning news, CNN, NPR and the New York Times. Eckhart is an Air Force brat, a Navy wife and an Army mom. Find her at

25 Comments on "Anti-Military Folks are People, Too"

  1. I know they have their own opinions, but it doesn’t give them the right to throw stuff at my husband. We went to a sandwich shop off post for lunch, me and my husband were talking and having a good old time. Out of the blue a college kid walks up and says “you know I have a better job then you and I’m going to college and one day I will be the president and there will be no more military” my husband is a bit of a smarta** said “honestly I love my life. I have a beautiful wife and I have a job. That when you get out of school you may or may not have one” then the kid threw his cookie at him and told him to Fu** off. And protesting at military members funerals with signs that say “God hates soldiers” and stuff like that is way over stepping the boundaries

    • I would have ate that little bastard for lunch so your husband is a real good man for not doing what i would have done.

  2. I am amazed with how limited the life experience is of many who deride the military member. The life experience of living all over the world; learning to commuicate and work with other cultures and peoples beats just reading about it in a book in college. Actually seeing and experiencing the sights and places most just read about or see on TV is amazing. No matter where I have been Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, or Kyrgyzstan. I wouldn't trade it for the world. It is sad to me to see people I grew up with still hanging out on the same street corners we grew up on and complaining about the rest of us.

  3. I am in seminary, preparing to become a military chaplain, and I must admit that I was also shocked at the strange stereotypes that my classmates hold about the military. I was actually told, to my face, that not only is the mlitary only there as a refuge for the "useless poor" but that nobody who joined would get any kind of education that had any merit in the "real world". Since I am married to a medic who has three post bacalaureate degrees and I am currently working on my own, I simply pointed out to this person that they might check their facts. Unless they know something about me and my family that I am not aware of. Of course, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor first. Thank you for articulating this – I was beginning to think that my experiences of this particular style of anti-military bias was something in my own crazed imagination.

  4. I am a Vietnam veteran, so the concept of those who are anti-military is not foreign to me. Following service, I spent 36 years with the Dept. of Veterans Affairs in Public Contact. I have been fortunate to have met veterans who have served from the Spanish American War until now – they all have stories about encounters with those who do not have anny appreciation for or knowledge of military service. Unfortunately, our news media encourages the thinking by running articles filled with supposition and fiction, such as our newspaper did in September. I'm glad I grew up in a family that supported veterans – most of us had served. In Vietnam we had a saying – 'For those who understand – no explanation is necessary. For those who don't – no explanation is possible'. I try to remember this when I meet a 'citizen against the military'.

  5. They may be people, but if they can judge me as bad for being involved with the military since I was in high school then I can question their judgement and intellingence to their face. Their political postion doesnot protect them from criticism.

  6. I for one am proud that I live in a country where: 1) We can burn our flag without fear of being sent away to die in a labor camp. 2) People have the right to hate the military without fear of being sent away to die in a labor camp. 3) We can openly complain about our President and our politicians without fear of being sent away to die in a labor camp. 4) We can openly burn a copy of the Koran, the Bible, Newsweek or Dreams of My Father without fear of being murdered. When these freedoms are no longer exist in this country, then death of my spouse and my other brothers and sisters in arms down through the generations will no longer hold meaning.

  7. Yet there are many military folks that do not like civilians. It goes both ways. Also, you have to admit that going into the military is a job for people that are poor and do not have many options, and it is a noble job.

    • My husband's parents were not poor when he decided to join the military. He was a high school graduate who could have gone to college, gone to a trade school, worked at an entry level job until he could move up the ladder to a higher position or join the military. Every young adult has options regardless of their parent's bank account, that's what financial aid for education is for. So, I don't see how anyone would say that "going into the military is a job for people that are poor and do not have many options" unless they have no understanding of the commitment and love for country that our military possesses.

    • "you have to admit that going into the military is a job for people that are poor and do not have many options"
      I am sorry but you do not even have a clue what happens in the military! My son's ASVAB scored 94 (The Marine) & 96 (The solder) – but I am confident you don't know what that score is but I will say with confidence the odds are you cannot pull that kind of score. My son 'the solder' graduated from Missouri Science & Technology and enlisted in the US Army. He graduated debt free. It is an honor to serve and protect this great land. We do it for honor.

    • You are so narrow-minded it's pathetic. My husband came from a VERY wealthy family, had academic and athletic scholarships to multiple schools. Instead, he joined the Navy – something he wanted to do since he was a kid. He's worked at some of the most elite commands in the country, and has the opportunity to meet people like the Secretary of Defense as well we many other influential people. He's seen seen the world and had experiences and training that no amount of money can buy. And he's not the only one. Along the way I've met military members from ALL walks of life – from people with million dollar trust funds, to kids that grew up in poverty on the streets. To pigeonhole all service members as people with a lack of better option is absurd and ridiculous. Some people just believe in doing something good for humanity. It's the same with the military – they join because they want to make a difference, regardless of their background.

    • The reason some military might not like civilians is because some civilians are as ignorant as you are. I pity you.. and they do too. To prevent yourself from looking like a fool again in the future, you might want to think twice before making any more comments like that.

  8. I am a 2nd Generation Military and others in my Family also served to say we are dumb is to say Albert Eistein was average and limited. the Military is the most flexible force in the world and in mean the United States Military for those who dont understand and its people that have never or will never serve this country. as far as you getting rid of the military is to get rid of your FREEDOM to countries like Iran / North Korea or Russia /China so dont be so Navie and grow up or as i say Man-up. I have 3 Technical Degrees and a College Degree Before my 20th year in the Military i served for 22 years.

  9. Continue- It's sad seeing someone walk up to soldiers and call them baby killers! I think what people fail to realize is whether you're a cop, national guard, army, etc., all of them keep you safe so you don't have to live in fear. What school would you attend if you were too scared to leave your house? It's the selfless sacrifice of others so that you can go about your day, yet you use your freedoms to disrepect the very people that make them possible.

  10. But not everyone can afford college. Student loans can take the rest of your life to pay off. No one should think that serving is not the biggest sacrifice, IT IS. So sometimes you do have to pick between military service and going to college. That was exactly the choice that most people had in the small rural town in Texas that I grew up in. But that didn't mean that that is the same choice facing all people choosing to serve- or that people that come from poor towns are less than. I think many civilians do not understand military life- it must have been hard to be in a class and be the only military person trying to explain the situation.

  11. The military pays for your college, so you can serve and go to school. They even have programs for you to go to college then enter officer school after you receive your degree, while you're serving. Online college and schools work with deployed soldiers so they won't lose their credits or have to drop out. They pick up were they left off, that's what i'm referring to. I agree that some people enter the military for the salary that they couldn't get in a civilian job right out of high school.

  12. ken wheeler | June 18, 2013 at 7:38 am |

    God is smarter than all the politicians and generals put together. God says Thou Shalt Not Kill.

    • Agreed. But God also tells his people to wipe a whole other people off the face of the earth and then punishes them when they don't complete the mission. Jesus also did not tell the Roman soldier to desert his post and runaway when the soldier asked Jesus what he should do.

  13. ken wheeler | August 7, 2013 at 5:09 pm |

    let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me

  14. In the dictionary, the definition of civilian is: "a person not on active duty in a military, police, or fire-fighting force". So, we military spouses can't really be anti-civilian since that would mean we are anti-self. I do see milspouses who forget that we are still a part of the greater community in which we find our military bases and the biggest difference between my neighbor and I is that I am married to a servicemember and she is married to a man who works a civilian job. We shop in the same stores, our kids go to the same schools, we eat at the same restaurants, etc. We take care of our homes, our kids and the men we love. Sometimes I do these things alone, but so does that other neighbor, who is a single parent 24/7.

  15. jacey_eckhart | October 25, 2012 at 7:07 am |

    Oh guestwife, I don't think I have an anti-civilian bias. I think I just have husband-at-home envy. I wish I was one of those even-keeled people who make their life decision about the military and then feel at peace with that decision. Instead, I live with a jumble of feelings about it. Heavens….

  16. continuation of above: I think that at times some of us envy those familiies who get to enjoy things that we have to sacrifice and I wouldn't call that anti-civilian. It's usually during those times when we are overwhelmed and stressed because we have just undertaken a multitude of problems, in a short period of time, without the support of our spouses and we take that moment to sigh and think about how great it would be to have our spouse there to provide strength and support. Sometimes it hurts to be reminded that our spouses aren't there for us when we need them. I would worry more about those who believe we are in a special class of our own that is superior to our fellow civilians.

  17. I understand you a lot better, thanks for your comment. I think it was the "But that doesn’t stop me from wishing civilians were invisible" that was confusing, but I understand where you are coming from a lot better!

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