Sunday, November 26, 2006

Who goes, and who doesn't... again...

Dr. Martin Holland (right) leaves a patient who has a head wound after an evaluation at the Balboa Naval Medical Center where he is one of four Navy neurosurgeons. He would like to serve in Iraq if only for a short time. Special to The Chronicle; photo by Sandy Huffaker

I have written before about how people of privilege haven't been signing up to join the armed forces. This was, if you remember, prompted by an essay from a Yale law student, who had served in the military, I heard on NPR. And then I saw this:
If Dr. Martin Holland had his way, he'd be in Iraq right now. In Fallujah or Ramadi or Baghdad. Up to his elbows in blood and brain matter, operating on Marines and soldiers with severe head injuries.

As it happens, it's unlikely the doctor will find himself hovering over a battlefield operating table. But he has a strong desire to serve -- to do something for the troops suffering severe combat injuries. Instead of teaching residents and interns how to stop intracranial bleeding in San Francisco, Holland is wearing Navy whites and operating on sailors and Marines in San Diego.

Holland is not an 18-year-old who joins the Marines fresh out of high school. He's 44, and he quit a prestigious job as director of neurotrauma at UC San Francisco. But there are similarities: Both put aside personal lives to enlist in the military.
I think there might be something about his age and his grade, however. The Navy offered him the rank of Captain (O-6), but he felt without prior military service he shouldn't be that senior. He came in as a Commander (O-5).

But, the point is that he is a person of privilege and he stood up to volunteer. He certainly didn't have to stand, and he is certainly not necessarily doing himself any favors, professionally (he's taken a huge salary cut and he has taken himself out of the realm of teaching and research which is where he has, up to now, spent his career).

What other examples do we have of privilege signing up? Or, are we really a military made up of the offspring of the middle and lower class?

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