NNOMY

Understanding the South's unequal contribution of military recruits

by Rolando Zenteno / Facing South - Since the U.S. ended the draft in 1973, young adults from Southern states* have been overrepresented among new military recruits. In fact, the region has been in a league of its own in terms of military recruitment since the late 20th century, with no other region experiencing as wide a disparity in military representation.

The disproportionate presence of new military recruits from the South can be understood by looking at the region's "representation ratio": its share of new recruits divided by its share of the U.S. young adult population. A ratio of 1 means a state's share of new recruits is equal to its share of the U.S. young adult population between the ages of 18 and 24, the typical age range for new enlistees. A ratio of less than 1 means a state is providing fewer recruits than might be expected given its young adult population, while a ratio of more than 1 means it's providing more than its fair share.

Ending Our Addiction to Militarism

Matt Reimann / Mother Jones - There shall be no federal progress if we continue to ignore the warning President Eisenhower presented to us more than 60 years ago. In his 1953 “Cross of Iron” speech, Eisenhower proposed a radical vision—a modern world no longer obligated to squander its wealth and promise on war:

    Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

The wisdom of this appeal has been undermined by decades of conduct to the contrary. A lack of necessary conflict has not prevented the United States from launching interventions large and small, from phosphorus-lit conflagrations in Iraq and Vietnam to splendid little assaults in the deserts of Yemen and the jungles of Nicaragua. War — hellish, expensive, often counterproductive war — appears the human inevitably it was millennia ago, a prophecy as inscribed in the verses of Homer or in the blade lacerations of a 600,000-year-old skull.

Army recruitment today is less "Be all you can be" and more "Call of Duty"

Taylor Allen / Colorado Public Radio -  The main source of light in this dim, warehouse-sized room in suburban Denver comes from rows of screens. Each panel shows fast-paced military action — camouflaged soldiers swarming a city or special operations forces securing a target.

Andrew Garcia, 22, plays 'Call of Duty: Modern Warfare' at the Localhost Denver Arena during an October Army recruiting event. Photo: Taylor Allen, Colorado Public RadioOne of the figures hunched over a computer in the darkness huffs in disappointment.

"I've died like four times in three missions," said 17-year-old Gavin Gains.

Even though he wasn't dominating the brand new "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare" game, Gains attracted the attention of the event's sponsors - the U.S. Army. The office held this release party for the new game at an esports venue called Localhost Arena. Anyone who came to the party was able to play the new game as long as he or she also spoke to Army recruiters.

"This is the targeted demographic - these young men and women that came out here to play the esports," said Sgt. Vincent Cruz, an Army recruiter.

The Army has turned to esports, along with other new marketing strategies, in an attempt to make military service more appealing to young people. Cruz says video games are a way for the Army to connect with more people. It has even created its own professional esports team, which has become part of Cruz's pitch.

Cruz said the military wants to, "Reach out to these men and women and show them that 'Hey, you can actually do this in the Army and get paid by the way.'" The Army calls its esports efforts "some of the highest lead-generating events in the history of the all-volunteer force."

Mission: Readiness at Year Ten

The 750 retired admirals, generals, and other top military leaders who are members of Mission: Readiness recognize that the strength of our country depends on a strong military. Since 2009, Mission: Readiness has championed evidence-based, bipartisan state and federal public policy solutions that are proven to prepare our youth for life and to be able to serve their nation in any way they choose.


OpEd: Gary David Ghirardi, National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth - 

Mission: Readiness, a project ostensibly of the Pentagon, has just celebrated its tenth year of entering our nations preschools to promote the health and qualification of “children at risk” to be eligible to enter military service in fourteen years to fifteen years when they reach the age of legal military enlistment.  This program, which is one of five components of The Council For a Strong America, is a bipartisan effort by supporting Democratic and Republican policy makers and retired military elites to shepherd these youth into productive outcomes in opposition to what is being represented as an epidemic of bad health, crime, drug addiction and sub-literacy.

Mission: Readiness, in its initial incarnation, posited that the state of American youth was a “national security issue,” meaning that enlistment aged youth, due to inadequate health, educational deficits,  criminal records, and drug addiction, deprived the military of qualified candidates for military service. In subsequent years, the message was toned down to pose the issue as one of being “citizen ready” and now has morphed into five individually emphasized programs encompassing crime interdiction, military readiness, prepared workforce, physical preparedness and religious grounding, now being spearheaded by evangelicals to strengthen family and community ties.

Much of what is being expressed are ideas supportable aside from political or philosophical differences: We should want the best for our children and youth and want them to be healthy of mind and body and yet, coming from the perspective of peace communities, we need to ask and ultimately challenge, why should laudable goals be usurped by the Pentagon with its egregious history of national and international human rights violations and exposing its own soldiers to physical, social, and mental health threats?

Warriors Wanted: Does the US Military Prey on Teenagers? | WhoWhatWhy | Rosa Del Luca | Nov 12 2019

Navy, recruiter, high school
Navy recruiters conduct presentations at Everett High School in Boston, Massachusetts, about the Navy's nuclear programs. Photo credit: Official U.S. Navy Page / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
 
Reading Time: 10 minutes

 

Air Force veteran Eddie Falcon enlisted as a teenager just before the September 11 attacks, partly to escape his violent Los Angeles County neighborhood. “I just didn’t see a lot of opportunities to succeed,” he said. Falcon assumed war “wasn’t something we were doing anymore.” 

He ended up deployed to Iraq twice and Afghanistan twice, “getting trapped in another cycle of violence — just a different one.”

A few years after returning to civilian life, Falcon started talking to students about his experiences. A Hispanic man, he had witnessed persistent racism and rampant sexism. He also had had qualms about participating in wars he disagreed with.

“I want to tell young people the things that I didn’t know before I went into the military,” he said. “And things that I think a lot of people don’t know before going in.”

It’s no secret that military enlistment declines when the economy is strong, which means recruiters are scrambling once again to meet their quotas. A recent article from Army Times describes Army recruiting as a “grueling, frustrating job” that instills dread in anyone ordered to carry out that duty. 

 

Preying Upon the Vulnerable

Recruitment also sets off an alarm among a much lesser-known group: “Truth in Recruitment” advocates. That’s because the low numbers appear to have recruiters doubling down on their targeting of teenagers — even those who have chosen to pursue higher education. Recruiters say teens are the most qualified age cohort. This may be true, but critics believe a key reason the very young are a choice quarry is because they are naïve and more easily persuaded than older people.

According to a 2016 Population Representation in the Military Services report, 17- to 20-year-olds comprise up to 80 percent of personnel in some branches. And the military appears to be mining data on even younger teens. A 2017 Department of Defense youth poll showed that 16-year-olds are even more attracted to military service than 18-year-olds. 

In a recent Military Times op-ed, Shane McCarthy, the chief marketing officer of a tech company used by the military, argues that younger teens are also less likely to be disqualified by a criminal record, are cheaper to target with ads on social media, and come with the added bonus of being more likely to influence their friends. 

 

North Carolina National Guard recruiter

A North Carolina Army National Guard recruiter addresses students at Central Cabarrus High School in Concord, North Carolina. Photo credit: North Carolina National Guard / Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

 

“It’s absolutely predatory,” said Malathi Iyengar, an assistant professor at the College of San Mateo. Two years ago, during her first semester teaching ethnic studies, she noticed the frequent appearance of recruiters on campus and thought she should warn students to be skeptical of what they often promised.

“I thought I would be doing some awareness raising, but they ended up educating me,” she told WhoWhatWhy. “The class erupted with these stories of siblings and cousins who had been lied to by recruiters. Then they started going into these stories of recruiters hounding them, following them, coming to their houses repeatedly. These were all working-class students of color.”

One student described climbing out of a back window to avoid yet another uncomfortable conversation with a recruiter. Another described being followed at a shopping mall (where recruiters consistently exceed enlistment goals), telling Iyengar he thought he was targeted because he is American Samoan, a group that serves in significant numbers in the US military, according to the Chicago Tribune

But the story that bothers Iyengar the most is that of a young woman whom recruiters managed to discourage from pursuing higher education. 

“A recruiter repeatedly called her, and when she told him she was going to college full-time, the recruiter would say things like this:

You won’t finish … you won’t get a job … you should join the military because that’s something you can really do something with.

“He was preying on legitimate worries that college students have.” 

Every branch of the military has ethical guidelines and processes in place for addressing complaints. Captain Richard Chapman, company commander for four San Francisco Bay Area Army recruiting centers, told WhoWhatWhy he wants to know if any aggressive recruiters were on his team, so that he can address concerns. He says he has yet to receive complaints from College of San Mateo students or educators. 

Iyengar says she doesn’t plan to pursue the matter because she doesn’t know if the recruiters who harass her students are the same as those on her campus, where she is confining her concerns.

“Recruiters hold a very special position,” said Chapman. “It’s a position of significant trust. You have to have a certain status just to be allowed to engage with people about the Army.” 

 

Big Mistake: Trusting Your Recruiter

Those assurances don’t hold much weight for self-described Truth in Recruitment activists, who say recruiters have a long history of luring naïve teenagers into long, legally binding contracts with questionable tactics. No one knows the consequences of these unbreakable contracts better than longtime GI Rights Hotline counselor Siri Margerin.

“I have seen people suffer severe consequences for not doing their homework and for not understanding some of what is being suggested to them,” she said. “A big mistake is trusting your recruiter. They have a job to do, and it is not the same job you have to do.”

While the military claims its vetting process mostly weeds out the sort of person likely to suffer regrets after enlisting, Margerin says second thoughts are common among the recruits she knows. 

“I have had countless sad experiences with talking to folks who are in their first week of basic training and are like ‘I have made the biggest mistake of my life. Get me out of here!’” she said. “They are desperate. Even kids who have dreamed about being in the military since they were six years old.”

She spends a lot of time with people calling from boot camp, working with them to try to build a path out of uniform that leaves them with their self-esteem intact. “They can come out really damaged,” she said. “It’s a huge blow to them, finding out that they can’t stand it. It’s emotionally debilitating. And they’re just at the beginning. It only gets harder.”

 

Navy, plebe, crawling

A first-year midshipman, or plebe, crawls through a tunnel formed by fellow midshipmen while participating in the annual Sea Trials at the US Naval Academy. Photo credit: Official U.S. Navy Page / Flickr

 

These stories drive Margerin to visit with activists like Air Force veteran Falcon. Most Truth in Recruitment members say they are not anti-military or anti-recruiter, but “pro-information.” They doubt that teenagers are equipped to make life-altering decisions, when science shows their brains are not fully developed. Right now, 17-year-olds can enlist with a parent’s permission.

 

A Recruiter’s Point of View

Chapman enlisted on his 17th birthday, in 2005. He sees recruitment in high schools and community colleges as a no-brainer. “They’re the most qualified population,” he said. “That’s the time in their life where they’re at a crossroads.” 

He also says college isn’t necessarily the best option for many teenagers. 

“High schools definitely push college, but then we do see quite a few drop out in their first or second year,” he said. “That’s where some of that negative perception comes in — that we come in and try to take students away. Most of the time it’s all about how can we help them reach their personal goals.”

Enter the problem of very unequal access. Under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, signed by President Barack Obama in 2015, public high schools must provide the military with the names of all seniors, along with contact information, or risk losing federal funding. They must also grant recruiters access to campus once a month. Parents do have the right to “opt out” in writing from having their child’s information sent to military recruiters. But the law is weak. A single notice provided through a mailing, student handbook, or other method is sufficient. Consequently, most parents aren’t aware there’s an easy way to opt out. It’s not on their radar.

“We don’t get as much access as people think,” said Chapman. “Some schools won’t let us talk to anybody unless it’s that one time of the month. Some schools are much more open, and we visit them weekly. If a school is not in compliance with federal law, it’s usually a perception issue — that if you join the Army you’re going to have PTSD and you’re going to die. The perception isn’t the reality. For instance, right now, we’re focusing on STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] careers, which don’t have anything to do with combat.”

Only when pressed does Chapman concede that, no matter what your job, you are extremely likely to be deployed to a war zone in a time of war or conflict.

 

Harrisburg Recruiting Company

The Harrisburg Recruiting Company participated in an event at Susquehanna Township High School in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Photo credit: Harrisburg U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion / Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

 

Obstacles to Telling Kids the Truth

Groups critical of current recruitment practices like Before Enlisting, Stop Recruiting Kids, and the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth struggle to gain access to schools at all. Their mission is to point out what recruiters don’t, such as that you are not guaranteed the job you sign up for, and every contract is technically eight years long. A recruiter isn’t likely to mention the potential for physical and moral injury — or the military’s long history of sexual assault and racism, or its high suicide rate, even though it concedes that these are problems.  

“In most cases it’s not that people don’t want us,” said retired teacher Leni von Blanckensee, who now works with Before Enlisting. “It’s that teachers are just overwhelmed by the demands on them. You can send 10 messages and not hear back, and then someone will respond and ask: ‘Can you come Friday?’ Then the likelihood you and a veteran can drop everything and go is not so good.”

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, California brings in more recruits than any other state. While activists rely on donated time and donated materials to reach kids, recruiters are backed by a huge budget and go out of their way to appeal to educators. Chapman says his recruiters take high-school teachers and administrators every year to NASA’s impressive Moffett Field in Santa Clara County, and to the prestigious Defense Language Institute in Monterey. 

“We also have a trailer coming to Fleet Week,” said Chapman, referring to a weeklong military event that draws hundreds of thousands to San Francisco’s waterfront each fall. “Everybody going to Fleet Week that goes on the Marina Green will see us with the Marines, with the Navy, demonstrating the roles in humanitarian assistance that the military provides.”

Compounding the issue of visibility and access, according to Margerin and von Blanckensee, is a lack of awareness by schools. Under that same Every Student Succeeds Act, public schools must grant access to groups offering narratives critical of military contracts and service. However, educators often don’t know about the rule, or are too busy, or simply do not want to wade into controversial waters.

 

San Francisco Fleet Week

Lamp post banner for San Francisco Fleet Week 2016. Photo credit: Willis Lam / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

 

Von Blanckensee describes one administrator, who she believed was an ally, suddenly reversing course. “She says ‘I was always very much against having military recruiters at school, but to be frank, my niece couldn’t figure out how she was going to pay for college and she signed up. I now see the advantage and I don’t want to discourage kids from having access.’”

It didn’t help matters when Von Blanckensee tried to explain that she wasn’t telling teens what to do, but only wanted to make them aware of both sides of the issue. 

“Military folks are just walking onto campus, not asking for permission, and talking to kids. We can’t do that,” said von Blanckensee. “That’s the frustration. It’s important for kids to know both sides of the story. We know they’re getting the military side of it.”

 

The Stigma of Dissent

It’s a frustration Falcon shares. He feels that students, parents, and educators have been primed to think a certain way about recruiters and military service.

“The biggest thing is the culture in America. [People] see that uniform, and they think ‘yeah, go talk to the kids. You’re serving our country.’ No one wants to question that because there’s a stigma attached to dissent. What, are you un-American? Unpatriotic? But not everybody who wears a uniform is some pure war hero. We have to remember that their job is getting kids into the military. And they have so many resources to do it. They definitely have an advantage.”

Educators like Iyengar, who are disturbed by the disparity and by what recruiters are telling students, are at a loss for a response. She is especially concerned because the College of San Mateo, like many community colleges, also serves high school students, some as young as 16.

“I don’t see any way for us as faculty to hold them accountable,” she said, noting that recruiters appeared on campus on the first day of this year’s fall semester, right in front of the student center. “I can’t directly tie the stories of bad behavior my students told me to the recruiters who visit our campus. It would take a complaint, or several, lodged by students to get them off campus, and then it’s just that one recruiter who wouldn’t be allowed back.”

On her own, Iyengar reached out to Before Enlisting and the Oakland youth-led group BAY-Peace to try and arrange speakers to raise awareness. But students, parents and teachers concerned about these issues in other regions don’t have these resources. 

Veterans who have distanced themselves politically and morally from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan often frown at the term “all volunteer” military. Many, including Falcon, see themselves as products of the so-called economic draft. And they wish they had been a little wiser about the world before enlisting. According to a 2016 Population Representation in the Military Services report, 17- to 20-year-olds comprise up to 80 percent of personnel in some branches.

If the goal is to truly create an “all volunteer” force, where recruits don’t regret decisions they make as teens, critics of current recruitment strategies argue it may be time for the government to reconsider whom recruiters target and where and what they say to them.

Rosa del Duca is a veteran, conscientious objector, and author of Breaking Cadence: One Woman’s War Against the War, which chronicles her journey from eager recruit to unlikely rebel. She has a companion podcast, Breaking Cadence: Insights From a Modern-Day Conscientious Objector. She may also become a Truth in Recruitment activist soon.


Related front page panorama photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Official U.S. Navy Page / Flickr.

Source: https://whowhatwhy.org/2019/11/12/warriors-wanted-does-the-us-military-prey-on-teenagers/

 

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The Army Beat Its Recruitment Goals This Year by Targeting Students in Debt

“Debt is a form of social control. You can force people to do all kinds of things if you put them in debt first."

Leila Ettachfini / VICE - The U.S. Army has already achieved its recruiting goal this year, after falling short about 6,500 recruits in 2018. At the Pentagon this week, the head of Army Recruiting Command Maj. Gen. Frank Muth attributed the success to America’s crippling student debt crisis.

While the Department of Defense’s 2019 budget is $686 billion, that number is less than half of the collective student debt in America, which surpassed $1.5 trillion this year. “One of the national crises right now is student loans, so $31,000 is [about] the average,” Muth told reporters. “You can get out [of the Army] after four years, 100 percent paid for state college anywhere in the United States."

Thank you Summit attendees!

Dear Friends of Truth in Recruitment,

Thank you everyone who attended Truth in Recruitment's (TIR) Summit on Youth and the Military on October 12! It was a big success, and your participation means a lot to us. We hope that you gained more understanding of the Selective Service System, military recruitment in local schools, as well as the issues of deported veterans, and that you found the discussion helpful and informative.

At a Santa Maria High School career fair this October, students reported that all branches of the military were represented but only community college Allan Hancock had a table. No four-year universities or colleges were present. With this in mind, please save the date to give public comment at the next Santa Maria Joint Union High School District school board meeting on Tuesday, November 12, 6:30-8pm. Through our organizing, we will advocate for a balance of information on students’ post-secondary options, and for the SMJUHSD to be more receptive to the community needs.

Subcategories

The NNOMY Opinion section is a new feature of our articles section. Writing on youth demilitarization issues is quite rare but we have discovered the beginning articles and notes being offered on this subject so we have decided to present them under an opinion category.  The articles presented do not necessarily reflect the views of the NNOMY Steering Committee.

General David Petraeus' rocky first days as a lecturer at the City University of New York Though the United States of America shares with other nations in a history of modern state militarism, the past 65 years following its consolidation as a world military power after World War II, has seen a shift away from previous democratic characterizations of the state.  The last thirty years, with the rise of the neo-conservative Reagan and Bush administrations (2), began the abandonment of moral justifications for democracy building replaced by  bellicose proclamations of the need and right to move towards a national project of global security by preemptive military force .

In the process of global military expansion, the US population has been subjected to an internal re-education to accept the role of the U.S. as consolidating its hegemonic rule internationally in the interest of liberal ideals of wealth creation and protectionism.

The average citizen has slowly come to terms with a stealthly increasing campaign of militarization domestically in media offerings; from television, movies and scripted news networks to reinforce the inevitability of a re-configured society as security state. The effect has begun a transformation of how, as citizens, we undertand our roles and viability as workers and families in relation to this security state. This new order has brought with it a shrinking public common and an increasing privatization of publicly held infrustructure; libraries, health clinics, schools and the expectation of diminished social benefits for the poor and middle-class. The national borders are being militarized as are our domestic police forces in the name of Homeland Security but largely in the interest of business. The rate and expansion of research and development for security industries and the government agencies that fund them, now represent the major growth sector of the U.S.economy. Additionally, as the U.S. economy continually shifts from productive capital to financial capital as the engine of growth for wealth creation and development, the corporate culture has seen its fortunes rise politically and its power over the public sector grow relatively unchallenged by a confused citizenry who are watching their social security and jobs diminishing.

How increasing cultural militarization effects our common future will likely manifest in increased public dissatisfaction with political leadership and economic strictures. Social movements within the peace community, like NNOMY, will need to expand their role of addressing the dangers of  militarists predating youth for military recruitment in school to giving more visibility to the additional dangers of the role of an influential militarized media, violent entertainment and play offerings effecting our youth in formation and a general increase and influence of the military complex in all aspects of our lives. We are confronted with a demand for a greater awareness of the inter-relationships of militarism in the entire landscape of domestic U.S. society.  Where once we could ignore the impacts of U.S. military adventurisms abroad, we are now faced with the transformation of our domestic comfort zone with the impacts of militarism in our day to day lives.

How this warning can be imparted in a meaningful way by a movement seeking to continue with the stated goals of counter-recruitment and public policy activism, and not loose itself in the process, will be the test for those activists, past and future, who take up the call to protect our youth from the cultural violence of militarism.

The "militarization of US culture" category will be an archive of editorials and articles about the increasing dangers we face as a people from those who are invested in the business of war. This page will serve as a resource for the NNOMY community of activists and the movement they represent moving into the future. The arguments presented in this archive will offer important realizations for those who are receptive to NNOMY's message of protecting our youth, and thus our entire society, of the abuses militarism plays upon our hopes for a sustainable and truly democratic society.

NNOMY

 

The Resources section covers the following topics:

News reports from the groups associated to the NNOMY Network including Social Media.

Reports from counter-recruitment groups and activists from the field. Includes information about action reports at recruiting centers and career fairs, school tabling, and actions in relation to school boards and state legislatures.

David SwansonDavid Swanson is the author of the new book, Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union, by Seven Stories Press and of the introduction to The 35 Articles of Impeachment and the Case for Prosecuting George W. Bush by Dennis Kucinich. In addition to cofounding AfterDowningStreet.org, he is the Washington director of Democrats.com and sits on the boards of a number of progressive organizations in Washington, DC.


Charlottesville Right Now: 11-10-11 David Swanson
David Swanson joins Coy to discuss Occupy Charlottesville, protesting Dick Cheney's visit to the University of Virginia, and his new book. -  Listen

Jorge MariscalJorge Mariscal is the grandson of Mexican immigrants and the son of a U.S. Marine who fought in World War II. He served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam and currently teaches at the University of California, San Diego.

Matt GuynnMatt Guynn plays the dual role of program director and coordinator for congregational organizing for On Earth Peace, building peace and nonviolence leadership within the 1000+ congregations of the Church of the Brethren across the United States and Puerto Rico. He previously served a co-coordinator of training for Christian Peacemaker Teams, serving as an unarmed accompanier with political refugees in Chiapas, Mexico, and offering or supporting trainings in the US and Mexico.

Rick JahnkowRick Jahnkow works for two San Diego-based anti-militarist organizations, the Project on Youth and Non-Military Opportunities and the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft. He can be reached at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Pat ElderPat Elder was a co-founder of the DC Antiwar Network (DAWN) and a member of the Steering Committee of the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth, (NNOMY).  Pat is currently involved in counter-recruitment projects in a dozen jurisdictions in the DC metropolitan area.  Pat’s work has prominently appeared in NSA documents tracking domestic peace groups.

 

Documents:

audio Pat Elder - National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth

NNOMY periodically participates in or organizes events(e.i. conferences, rallies) with other organizations.

The Counter-recruitment Essentials section of the NNOMY web site covers the issues and actions spanning this type of activism. Bridging the difficult chasms between religious, veteran, educator, student, and community based activism is no small task. In this section you will find information on how to engage in CR activism in your school and community with the support of the knowledge of others who have been working to inform youth considering enlisting in the military. You will also find resources for those already in the military that are looking for some guidance on how to actively resist injustices  as a soldier or how to choose a path as a conscientious objector.

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.

John Judge -- counselor, C.H.O.I.C.E.S.
 
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