John Judge was a co-founder of the Committee for High School Options and Information on Careers, Education and Self-Improvement (CHOICES) in Washington DC, an organization engaged since 1985 in countering military recruitment in DC area high schools and educating young people about their options with regard to the military. Beginning with the war in Viet Nam, Judge was a life-long anti-war activist and tireless supporter of active-duty soldiers and veterans.
"It is our view that military enlistment puts youth, especially African American youth, at special risk, not only for combat duty, injury and fatality, but for military discipline and less than honorable discharge, which can ruin their chances for employment once they get out. There are other options available to them."
In the 1970's the Selective Service System and the paper draft became unworkable, requiring four induction orders to get one report. Boards were under siege by anti-war and anti-draft forces, resistance of many kinds was rampant. The lottery system failed to dampen the dissent, since people who knew they were going to be drafted ahead of time became all the more active. Local draft board members quit in such numbers that even I was approached, as a knowledgeable draft counselor to join the board. I refused on the grounds that I could never vote anyone 1-A or eligible to go since I opposed conscription and the war.
At this point the Pentagon decided to replace the paper draft with a poverty draft, based on economic incentive and coercion. It has been working since then to draw in between 200-400,000 enlisted members annually. Soon after, they began to recruit larger numbers of women to "do the jobs men don't want to". Currently recruitment quotas are falling short, especially in Black communities, and reluctant parents are seen as part of the problem. The hidden problem is retention, since the military would have quadrupled by this time at that rate of enlistment, but the percentage who never finish their first time of enlistment drop out at a staggering rate.
I began bringing veterans of the Vietnam War into high schools in Dayton, Ohio in the late 1960s, and have continued since then to expose young people to the realities of military life, the recruiters' false claims and the risks in combat or out. I did it first through Vietnam Veterans Against the War/Winter Soldier Organization, then Dayton Draft & Military Counseling, and since 1985 in DC through C.H.O.I.C.E.S.
The key is to address the broader issues of militarization of the schools and privacy rights for students in community forums and at meetings of the school board and city council. Good counter-recruitment also provides alternatives in the civilian sector to help the poor and people of color, who are the first targets of the poverty draft, to find ways to break into the job market, go to a trade school, join an apprenticeship program, get job skills and placement help, and find money for college without enlisting in the military.
- War Opponents Train For Visits to Area Schools And Recruitment Centers, Michelle Boorstein, Washington Post
- Counter-Recruitment and the Campaign to Demilitarize Public Schools - Scott Harding, Seth Kershner
- C.H.O.I.C.E.S., John Judge
- Interview - John Judge - U.S. Wars & Military Recruitment
- Military and your Schools
- A Celebration of the Life of John Judge May 31, 2014
- In Memory of John Judge - Washington Peace Center
- John Judge- Obituary and request for reflections - Coalition on Political Assassinations (COPA)
- The Loss of John Judge Hits Hard - David Swanson
- John Judge, Leading Change: A Transformational, Quiet Servant Leader, David Ratcliffe
Pat Elder Remarks delivered at the Celebration of the Life of John Patrick Judge (See film of Pat’s remarks, starting at 32:50) National Press Club, Washington DC 31 May 2014 Phone skit I saw the email message about a week ago and it said, We’ve lost John Judge! We haven’t lost John! Hell, we’re just finding him. I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night, alive as you or me. Says I “But Joe, you're ten...
Brian Montopoli | Washington City Paper, January 31, 2003 Career Day, Cardozo High School. First session. Marine recruiter Sgt. Derrick Sanders is making his pitch. "Good morning, class," he says. Th...
Michelle Boorstein | Washington Post Staff Writer Monday, September 17, 2007 Two days after bringing thousands of protesters to the U.S. Capitol, Iraq war opponents will begin a "week of action" toda...
John Judge | Originally published in Washington Peace Letter, Volume 38, No. 5 - June 2001 In the early 1980's a citywide movement attempted to rid local high schools of JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer...