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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?

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.

Local Efforts Towards Military Counter-recruitment in Boston

Bonnie J. Caracciolo, Chelsea Uniting Against the War (CUAW) - On September 9, 2019 members and supporters of Chelsea Uniting Against the War (CUAW) greeted students on their way to school. CUAW was there to inform students about their right to opt out from having their personal information given to military recruiters.

Since 2001 and the No Child Left Behind Act along with the 2002 National Defense Authorization Act- both which provided for the presence of military recruiters in middle- and high-schools - young people have become vulnerable targets.

The group distributed over 1000 leaflets describing the facts about military enlistment including information on homelessness among veterans along with other serious issues. One in ten homeless people in the US is a military veteran. (2019) Additionally, 150 opt out forms were handed out.

Chelsea High School is in a mostly immigrant, working-class neighborhood near Boston, MA. Current enrollment is 1,335 students in 9th through 12th grade.


Each of the activists spoke to several students who knew about the opt out forms and had already signed them.

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