The National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth (NNOMY)
US Peace Prize Awarded to NNOMY
Michael Knox, US Peace Prize, US Peace Memorial - The 2023 US Peace Prize has been awarded to National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth (NNOMY) “For National Efforts to Stop U.S. Military Influence on Young People, Saving Lives Here and Abroad.”
The US Peace Prize was presented on September 19, 2023, at the Peace Resource Center of San Diego by Michael Knox, Chair and Founder of the US Peace Memorial Foundation. In his remarks, Dr. Knox said, “National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth shields young lives from some of the strongest influences of militarism. Your work not only saves U.S. lives by dissuading young people from joining the military - it also saves the lives of people in distant countries who they could harm once they were part of the U.S. war machine. NNOMY positively impacts countless young adults, and its nationwide efforts involve the contributions of many stellar antiwar figures and organizations. The US Peace Prize is a prestigious honor that will help call attention to and reinforce your important work for peace.”
The award was accepted by Rick Jahnkow, the organization’s Steering Committee Representative, and several network members. Mr. Jahnkow responded, “NNOMY is grateful for receiving this award and the recognition it will, hopefully, bring to the urgent need to counter the militarization of young people. Protesting war once it begins is never enough; if we are ever going to have a truly effective peace movement, it must include proactively reaching out to and engaging with younger generations in order to groom them to become activists for peace, instead of war. It is this long-term vision that NNOMY brings to the peace movement.”
The steering committee and staff of The National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth wish to send our condolences to the family, friends, and activist collaborators of Barbara G Harris on her recent passing after a long illness in New York City. Barbara served as a valuable member of the NNOMY Steering Committee and provided informed guidance for our network's projects and campaigns since her joining our organizing committee in 2014 as a representative of the Granny Peace Brigade of New York City.
NNOMY Steering Committee and staff
My own story of Barbara was visiting the Manhattan apartment of her and her husband, Gerald, on a visit to see family in Brooklyn. Beyond our kind reception for a visit in their dining room, where we shared an afternoon refreshment and conversation, was a small room that was Barbara's space that was a kind of history in pictures and memorabilia representing her 50 plus years of activism for peace, woman's rights, and the environment. She explained some of the things on the walls to my wife, Sandra, and I felt Barbara's history and commitment to activism from her school years through adulthood. It was a special place for me to share that likely few have experienced and it stood as a humane and personal reflection upon her. Barbara was a rare example of an activist and advocate in NYC schools countering the deceptive military recruiter narrative of the benefits of joining into war and doing the important work of youth demilitarization.
Below are a series of excerpts, and links to read the rest, of articles about her activism in our schools reaching out to youth to promote with them a future for peace and not a personal legacy of war.
Gary Ghirardi - NNOMY Communications Staff
Across the U.S., anti-war veterans and their allies are working together in an effort to stop the U.S. military from reaching its recruitment goals, writes Ruben Abrahams Brosbe.
July 27, 2023 / Ruben Abrahams Brosbe / Consortium News - March 20 marked the 20th anniversary of the United States’ invasion of Iraq. The war took hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, with some estimates of Iraqi casualties putting the number at over 1 million. More than 4,600 U.S. soldiers died in Iraq during and after the invasion, and thousands more have died by suicide.
Meanwhile, and not coincidentally, the U.S. military is facing its worst recruitment crisis since the end of the Vietnam War. The Defense Department’s budget proposal for 2024 outlines a plan for the military to slightly cut back on its ranks, but to reach its projected numbers, it will still need to embark on a heavy recruitment push.
Across the country, anti-war veterans and their allies are working together in an effort to stop the U.S. military from reaching its goal.
We Are Not Your Soldiers is a project of New York City-based nonprofit World Can’t Wait. The organization sends military veterans into schools to share honest stories of the harm they have caused and suffered. In doing so, they hope to prevent young people from signing up.
“I wish I had somebody who told me when I was young,” says Miles Megaciph, who was stationed in Cuba and Okinawa with the U.S. Marine Corps from 1992 to 1996. “The experiences I’ve lived, as painful as they are, and as much as I don’t like to relive them, are valuable to help future adults not live those experiences,” Megaciph told me.
“We wanted to get to the people who were going to be the next recruits,” says Debra Sweet, the executive director of World Can’t Wait. When We Are Not Your Soldiers launched in 2008, the experience was often intense for veterans.
NNOMY office invited Annette Gunderson to tell her story for our website and newsletter. She was referred by Tori Batemen of the Military Recruiter Abuse Hotline of the American Friends Service Committee who was contacted by Annette to seek some support. Tori then recommended that Annette contact NNOMY to tell her story which she did. https://afsc.org/hotline
The blackmail, mental and sexual abuse continued over the course of about 8 months while in Delayed entry program. I was in denial of the abuse and ended up with Stockholm syndrome. He blackmailed me with my medical history. Most recruiters, tell you to lie at MEPs so you can get into the military. Former, Petty officer Harris encouraged me to lie at MEPs. Shortly after MEPs Harris groomed me and lured me into his apartment. Pressured me to drink alcohol, his drink of choice: Angry orchard.
Legislation Would Protect JROTC Recruits from Abuse, Forced Enrollment and Increase Oversight of Program
June 15, 2023 / Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) / Senate.gov - Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Chair of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel, Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee, and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Chair of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, introduced the Junior Reserve Officer Training (JROTC) Safety Act of 2023 to better protect JROTC recruits following reports of program instructors sexually assaulting and harassing high school students. The legislation would also increase oversight of the agencies charged with running the program and prohibit mandatory enrollment of students into the program.
In December 2022, a New York Times investigation found that “dozens of schools have made the program mandatory or steered more than 75 percent of students in a single grade into the classes,” raising major concerns over the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Education’s (ED) oversight of the program. Earlier that year, another investigation found that at least 33 JROTC instructors have been charged in criminal cases involving sexual misconduct.
“The JROTC program is meant to show the next generation the best of what our nation’s military has to offer, not be a place where young people have to fear harassment or assault from their instructors,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren. “I’m glad to be partnering with Senators Sanders and Hirono to ensure accountability for schools that fail to report abuse in the program and increase oversight of our agencies in charge.”
“The reports of abuse, mistreatment, and compulsory enrollment in JROTC programs nationwide are deeply disturbing and must be addressed immediately,” said Senator Mazie Hirono. “JROTC students and their families should be able to trust that they will be safe and respected in the JROTC program, and this legislation will help ensure they can. I will continue working to ensure that the more than 500,000 students participating in JROTC programs across the country—and the students who follow—are safe and protected.”
May 8. 2023 / Pat Alviso / Peace Club Alliance - What to do when you are rained out of a parade? That was the dilemma Rachel Bruhnke and Pat Alviso, two high school peace club sponsors from the Los Angeles area, faced when 15 very disappointed students were told that they would have to reschedule their plans to march in the upcoming MLK Parade because the expected heavy rains meant that nobody would be gathering on the sidewalks to see them. Besides, they were told, their carefully painted signs would get ruined anyway. Undaunted, Rachel, who has a Peace & Planet Club at POLA HS in San Pedro, and a few of her stalwart students walked the whole parade route in the pouring rain anyway! (See pic). Now that’s youth activism at its finest.
April 16 2023 / Sam Biddle / The Intercept_ - The Georgia Army National Guard plans to combine two deeply controversial practices — military recruiting at schools and location-based phone surveillance — to persuade teens to enlist, according to contract documents reviewed by The Intercept.
The federal contract materials outline plans by the Georgia Army National Guard to geofence 67 different public high schools throughout the state, targeting phones found within a one-mile boundary of their campuses with recruiting advertisements “with the intent of generating qualified leads of potential applicants for enlistment while also raising awareness of the Georgia Army National Guard.” Geofencing refers generally to the practice of drawing a virtual border around a real-world area and is often used in the context of surveillance-based advertising as well as more traditional law enforcement and intelligence surveillance. The Department of Defense expects interested vendors to deliver a minimum of 3.5 million ad views and 250,000 clicks, according to the contract paperwork.
While the deadline for vendors attempting to win the contract was the end of this past February, no public winner has been announced.
The ad campaign will make use of a variety of surveillance advertising techniques, including capturing the unique device IDs of student phones, tracking pixels, and IP address tracking. It will also plaster recruiting solicitations across Instagram, Snapchat, streaming television, and music apps. The documents note that “TikTok is banned for official DOD use (to include advertising),” owing to allegations that the app is a manipulative, dangerous conduit for hypothetical Chinese government propaganda.
The Georgia Army National Guard did not respond to a request for comment.
While the planned campaign appears primarily aimed at persuading high school students to sign up, the Guard is also asking potential vendors to also target “parents or centers of influence (i.e. coaches, school counselors, etc.)” with recruiting ads. The campaign plans not only call for broadcasting recruitment ads to kids at school, but also for pro-Guard ads to follow these students around as they continue using the internet and other apps, a practice known as retargeting. And while the digital campaign may begin within the confines of the classroom, it won’t remain there: One procurement document states the Guard is interested in “retargeting to high school students after school hours when they are at home,” as well as “after school hours. … This will allow us to capture potential leads while at after-school events.”