Need Another Reason NOT to Join the Military?

August 28, 2006 at 7:21 pm 8 comments

With reports that GIs in Iraq are increasingly becoming the targets of insurgents’ bombs, it’s no wonder that it’s getting harder for recruiters to entice young people to enlist in a military that’s desperately mired in the mistakes of the Bush Administration’s failed foreign policies. But if the quagmire in Iraq and growing threats of war with Iran weren’t enough to deter young people from joining the ranks, a host of appalling recent reports just add more strength to the already thriving movement to counter the military’s recruitment of youth.

First, a Washington Post article last week highlighted the Government Accountability Office’s report on recruiter irregularities, showing that recruitment fraud, abuse, intimidation and other shady tactics are on the rise. The report noted that “available service data show that between fiscal years 2004 and 2005, allegations and service-identified incidents of recruiter wrongdoing increased, collectively, from 4,400 cases to 6,600 cases; substantiated cases increased from just over 400 to almost 630 cases; and criminal violations more than doubled from just over 30 to almost 70 cases.”

Not only is recruiting for the “war on terror” getting to be so tough that recruiters have to break the law just to meet their quotas, but the Pentagon has also had to extend or relax several requirements for new enlistees. With youth increasingly resisting enlistment, the military has even had to up their age limits to meet their quotas, meaning now more grandmas are going off to war. Many of these older Americans enlisting under the relaxed requirement have reportedly been enticed to join by promises of accessing long-postponed educational opportunities and financial resources that seemed otherwise out of reach, highlighting the reality of the “poverty draft” in an economy that’s posing difficulties for Americans of all ages.

And further evidence of the “backdoor draft” emerged yesterday, with the announcement that the Marines are now recalling thousands of troops on an involuntary basis for deployment back to Iraq and Afghanistan – more proof that, with no way out even after their terms are up, too many new recruits will not be getting what they thought they signed up for.

But then, young people being sold the “be all you can be” salespitch probably don’t think that means they’ll be enlisting alongside racist extremists and neo-nazis either – but reports out this summer show the soldier shortage is leading recruiters to look the other way when faced with prospective troops who are joining up specifically to train for “race wars.”

And if the possibility of facing involuntary redeployment, extremist racism and illegal coercion from recruiters weren’t enough reasons not to join, an Associated Press investigation released over the weekend highlighted the risks of violent sexism that female recruits face. AP reports that over 100 women trying to enlist were sexually assaulted by military recruiters in the past year, including many cases involving the rape of minors.

All of these alarming reports point to the desperation recruiters are facing, as they struggle to enlist enough foot soldiers for Bush’s disastrous wars. They also remind us of the many insidious ways in which recruiters, under pressure to meet their quotas, will be once again infiltrating schools this fall. As U.S. youth head back to classes, we in the peace movement must continue to organize to end the military’s occupation of our schools.

To this end, the Student Peace Action Network will continue its Counter-Recruitment work this fall, with the launch of new organizing resources for the new school year. To get involved, email SPAN@Peace-Action.org!

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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. josh rodriguez  |  September 16, 2006 at 10:39 pm

    You guys need to get your facts straight,i am currently doing national guard duty at the Kansas state fair,in hutchinson kansas.The other night one of your guys put a flyer on one of our vehicles denouncing military service. WHY NOT DO IT IN FRONT OF US LIKE A MAN AND STAND BEHIND YOUR OPINION.Then i would actually have some respect for you ,but by your actions you have shown yourself to be a coward .I am an infantryman and spent 5 years active duty,to include 2 combat tours to Iraq, I am unashamed of my service and have lost several friends to this war,please do not disgrace thier memories and those of others fighting and dying daily by belittling their service to our nation.You state in your flyer that over 70% of vets never receive their educational benefits.If you are discharged under other than honorable conditions or never apply for your benefits YOU WILL NOT RECEIVE THEM they are not automatic,And as for your claims of racism and sexism in the military,remember that the military is a reflection of society ,all that is good and bad in society also exists in the military. You are certainly entitled to your opinions,and i proudly defend them for you(you’re welcome),But again ,do not belittle those who choose to serve or make us seem ignorant or having made inuninformed decision.If you choose to be cowardly then you are no better than the insurgents that our soldiers and marines fight on a daily basis in iraq and afghanistan. Again ,you are entitled to your opinion,but i am also entitled to dispute your opinion.check your facts.

    Reply
  • 2. spanblog  |  September 18, 2006 at 10:19 pm

    Josh,

    No one’s belittling your service or the intelligence of those who enlist, the point is to highlight how many people actually receive the benefits that recruiters use to sell enlistment. Yes, you must apply to receive your education benefits, but the majority of people do not meet the basic requirements to receive them (a lot of people are discharged before their full 8 years of service for whatever reason), a fact people are not told when they pay their unrefundable $1200 into the program. Of the minority who do receive their educational benefits, few of them receive more than the $36,000 or $1,000/month/36 months to cover their schooling, and there are cases where GI Bill funds lower access to other federal financial aid because it is considered federal aid.

    It is not a disgrace to anyone’s memory to try and end this war so that no more lives are lost, nor is it doing so by trying to share information with potential recruits so that they know what they are getting into.

    Leaving information on a car is not cowardly, especially since it had contact information on the flyer, have you never received any army flyers in the mail? It’s sharing information, that’s all.

    The sexism and racism in the military is a reflection of our society, but that does not mean we should accept it. It is unacceptable for military recruiters to prey on young women trying to enlist because they have power over their futures. It is unacceptable that women soldiers in Iraq have been dying of dehydration because they are afraid to drink liquids during the afternoon so that they do not have to go to the latrines after dark for fear of being raped. Suzanne Swift should not have had to face assault and harassment from several of her commanding officers while fighting in a war.

    It also does not mean that we should be training white supremacists and gangmembers how to use more weapons and ways to effectively kill more people in a myriad of innovative ways. Giving hate groups tacit support and real training will only come back to haunt us, just as it is currently plaguing the people of Iraq.

    Silence is acceptance, and we will no longer keep quiet about the poverty draft or the sexist violence within the military.

    Peace,
    Randy
    Student Peace Action Network Organizer
    SPAN@Peace-action.org

    Reply
  • 3. ronald pritchett  |  October 7, 2006 at 11:52 am

    Why not accept the sexism and racism in the military? Seems that you not only accept it but EMBRACE it on college campuses. Women dehydrating cause they are scared to go to the latrines at night for fear of being raped. Bullsh*t, how many colleges have “escort” services provided to women cause they are afraid of walking on campus at night for the exact same fears?? One only has to look at the North Carolina Lacrosse team to see that rape on college campuses occurs much more frequently than in the military only we don’t hear about em cause the colleges unlike the military do everything they can to sweep the issue under the rug least they lose that all important Alumni money. As for white Supremist and gangmembers again what is a fraternity if not a gang or a Sorority. Oh wait that is a brotherhood of like minded individuals give me a break. There is far more gang violence in the campuses and around them than their is in the military. If not then it is more than likely cause most gang members aren’t born with a silver spoon in their mouth and can mooch off mommy and daddy while in college.

    Reply
  • 4. Edwin Lewis  |  January 7, 2007 at 7:06 am

    To Ronald Pritchett,
    A fraternity is not a gang, I say this for I am in a well known Fraternity, that lives with you even after the graduation process of college is over. I see too many of these students who come to college to become just a frat guy, or a sorority girl. But it is what you choose to do that defines you. I am active duty in the Navy, and you know I get crazy looks for the brands I have from my fraternity days. I gt people who place me in a category of a prisoner, a gang member, a rebel, also been called a racist. But this is all ignorance, that is what keeps this crazy world of ours running. It is those who dont care to learn, but keep speaking on stuff they know nothing of. Now to me that is pure ignorance. The military sucks our government sucks. And to get it back in order we all need to take some gut checks, all that we put in office are not qualified to be there. (BUSH OR HERRY) They both suck, but hell we had to put one or the other in there. Both are ignorant on certain issues, but to be honest all we can do is move forward and learn from there mistakes. We pay everyday for stupidity and ignoranc, but we can start today with the two of us. Let this ride out and spread the need to learn from one another. God Bless and take care.

    Reply
  • 5. Rick  |  February 19, 2007 at 8:22 am

    OK look people Read This,,if you or I enlist in the United states Military…You will automatically 100% recieve your money for an education..U HAVE TO APPLY BUT WHY WOULD YOU OR I NOT APPLY.U GO TO SCHOOL PLUS GET PAID…..YES SOME PEOPLE JUST WORK AS LIFERS BUT…that is supidity to think u will not recieve benefits..The recruiters are like sales man they have to make it sound good..But just know how good or how bad information sounds about the benefits,,in the end if u join and if u apply u WILL GET BENEFITS!!!!!!

    Reply
  • 6. spanblog  |  February 20, 2007 at 3:54 pm

    Rick,

    It isn’t as simple as merely applying, you have to meet qualifications to receive the money, even if you pay your unrefundable $1200 into it. If you get an Other Than Honorable discharge, you lose your benefits, and something like a 1/3 of the military receives those. Even those who meet qualifications, most only get the basic GI Bill, which is $1,000/month for 36 months ($36,000) for going to school full time, even though this amount won’t cover a tuition and fees for a number of community colleges anymore.

    You also lose access to federal aid, like Pell Grants, because GI Bill is seen as federal aid, so if you still don’t have enough for school too bad. It doesn’t put you in a better situation to have access to education in most cases.

    Reply
  • 7. Brian W. Glodek  |  February 25, 2007 at 11:33 pm

    I understand the essence of this article, though I agree with Ronald in that the military is a reflection of the society that we come from. There is good and bad in anything if you look hard enough. I have served (proudly) for five years and while, yes, there is a whole lot of crap in the military, there is also so much good that is in the military. I would say that the pro’s outweigh the con’s. Part of the reason why the military gets a bad wrap is that people do not think fully before they enlist, or they think it is going to be something different than what it really is. As far as the “bullying” tactics of recruiters, I am sure it exists and I am sure I experienced it a bit myself when I enlisted 8 years ago, but (I am not trying to excuse it) it is part of life. If you join the military and it is not what you expected, or thought, than (not trying to be rude) but sucks to be you for the next four years. Hopefully you learn something and aren’t too pissed off that you got “cheated” to see that you can help yourself and help others by doing what you can and what is expected of you.

    It is my personal opinion that everyone should join the military, though I am not naive to believe that everyone will. Some people are simply not cut out for the military and that is fine. I would rather you not join, than join and give those that want to be in a bad image.

    Reply
  • 8. Erica  |  March 26, 2007 at 5:52 pm

    Hello to all,
    I am a female E5 in the United States Navy and not only have i been sexually assaulted 3 times, i have been sexually harrassed nearly my entire career and discriminated against several times in my career (but this is all due to the fact i dont look like the average military woman). No one should have to go through what i have gone through.But i continue to serve the country proudly even though several of the incidents against me were swept under the rug.

    I have already gone to college so i have yet to try and use my GI Bill so i dont have much to say in that respect.

    thank you

    Reply

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