How to Counter Military Recruitment

By Pat Elder
Remarks at #NoWar2016

Countering military recruitment in the nation’s high schools confronts an ugly mix of a distinctively American brand of institutionalized violence, racism, militarism, nationalism, classism, and sexism. It confronts the greatest problems in American society.

I will spend a few minutes on the despicable public policy involving tens of thousands of American government employees both in and out of active duty, whose job it is to persuade high school kids to enlist in the Armed Services. It is an extraordinarily deceptive and reprehensible psychological pursuit.

Then I will discuss the military’s vulnerabilities in this realm and ways you can and should exploit them.

Why should we be concerned with military recruiters “chillin” with kids in the high school cafeteria? For starters, It’s not a volunteer force. It’s a recruited force.

These statistics are never mentioned in the corporate/military media:

  • Nearly 40% of all Army enlistees never complete their first term. Imagine, for a moment, the emotional suffering endured by those who really didn’t “volunteer” in the first place.
  • There were more than 20,000 deserters from the Army alone during the period from 2006 to 2014.
  • Half of the 770,000 active-duty soldiers polled two years ago “have little satisfaction in – or commitment to their jobs.”
  • Musculoskeletal injuries in the military result in 2.2 million medical encounters yearly, while there are 1.3 million active-duty soldiers.
  • Nearly half of the 1.6 million veterans of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have filed injury claims.
  • Military suicides are at or near an all-time high
  • Sexual assaults are at or near record levels in the military.
  • Consider DD Form 4, the military’s enlistment agreement, which says: “Laws and regulations that govern military personnel may change without notice to me. Such changes may affect my status, pay, allowances, benefits, and responsibilities as a member of the Armed Forces REGARDLESS of the provisions of this enlistment/ reenlistment document.”
  • Poor kids. They’re screwed. They’re red meat for the corporate and military carnivores who produce contracts they can’t understand – Contracts that go on to rule their lives. High schools teach Chaucer rather than crucial life skills.
  • The Pentagon’s greatest asset in the schools is the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, (JROTC). Over a half million children, an all-time high, are indoctrinated into military culture, while 40% who complete the program enlist in the armed forces. JROTC is the center of military intelligence gathering.
  • The Pentagon embraces the seductive power of the trigger as a recruiting device. Realizing the potential, the military exploits video games and weaponry to recruit and cultivate its own adolescent killers.
  • 2,400 high schools have marksmanship programs affiliated with JROTC and the congressionally-chartered Civilian Marksmanship Program. The kids regularly attend tournaments hosted by the NRA.
  • Schools allow shooting to occur during school hours in classrooms and gyms that are contaminated by lead fragments fired from the CO2 air rifles that become airborne and are deposited on the floor at the muzzle-end and at the target backstop. Kids track the lead throughout the school. Custodians sweep the lethal material. Loose enforcement of regulations creates a health hazard for students and custodial staff.
  • The JROTC guns fire a .177 (compared to a .22 caliber) projectile at 500 feet per second. The military classifies these guns as dangerous weapons.
  • JROTC textbooks teach a reactionary brand of U.S. history and government, while classes are often taught by military retirees with no college education. We had to bomb Hiroshima. It saved a million American lives. We helped Cuba gain their freedom.
  • The CIA took part in overthrowing the government of Salvador Allende. The United States government thought Allende was not favorable to our national interest.”
  • Gulf of Tonkin? Those damned North Vietnamese! The U.S. set up a democracy in South Korea after WW II. You get the idea. Make America great again!
  • The unit on citizenship is entitled, “You the People.”
  • Why are we allowing this? I think it’s because most of us don’t know it’s going on.
  • The most sought-after data the military extracts from the schools pertains to a child’s cognitive abilities. It is data the Pentagon cannot purchase outright or find online, and it is gained through the deceptive administration of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, (ASVAB) to 700,000 kids in 12,000 high schools every year. The ASVAB is a 3-hour enlistment exam masquerading as a career exploration program that tests a child’s verbal and math abilities along with knowledge of general science, electronics, auto, and shop.
  • ASVAB results are the only student information leaving America’s classrooms without parental consent, a violation of FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
  • ASVAB data is so valuable because it allows the Pentagon to analyze a child’s cognitive abilities, something that cannot be bought on found on social media sites.

Here’s how you can be most effective.

  • Appeal to moderate and progressive school board members and state legislators regarding these issues:
  • Demand your school adhere to the specifics of the “Opt-Out” legislation codified in the Every Student Succeeds Act, ESSA Sec. 8025.
  • Basically the law says recruiters get the names, addresses and phone numbers of kids from a school, although parents have the right to request that their kid’s info not be sent. High schools are supposed to tell parents but most don’t – or they bury the info. Maryland has the only law that requires parents to sign a form that asks parents if they want to allow info on their kid going to recruiters. Most say no.
  • ESSA 8025 also says military recruiters are to have the same access to kids as college recruiters – not greater access. Typically, military recruiters eat in the cafeteria while college recruiters meet with select kids in the guidance office. Military recruiters also perform dozens of volunteer tasks in the school. Demand that military recruiters never be allowed to be alone with kids. There have been too many rapes. 17-year-old Michelle Miller was murdered by a recruiter in Montgomery County, MD.
  • Contact your principal and school board to make sure that student information is not released to recruiters gained through the administration of the ASVAB. In order to prevent the information from automatically being given to recruiters, your school must tell the military in advance that “ASVAB Release Option 8” must be used for ALL the students who are tested. Option 8 means the military can’t use the results to recruit kids. Schools select release options. Not parents. Maryland, Hawaii, and New Hampshire require parents to give consent before ASVAB data is used for recruiting.
  • Make sure the ASVAB testing is voluntary. The Pentagon says it’s always voluntary but a FOIA reveals a thousand schools force kids to take it. – Like six high schools in inner city Miami that are almost entirely made up of minority kids, each forcing 500 kids to take the test without mom and dad’s knowledge or permission.
  • Check out the content of JROTC textbooks. The links are on the WBW website. Mainstream textbooks have come a long way thanks to the work of historians like Kuznick and Alperovitz, but not the JROTC books.
  • Make a fuss over the lack of academic qualifications of JROTC instructors. Many only have high school diplomas. Meanwhile, every other classroom teacher typically must be certified and hold a Masters after a few years.
  • Demand the closure of marksmanship programs. At least demand they stop using lead projectiles in school buildings.
  • If shooting ranges are present, determine if the school is adhering to the “Guide to Lead Management for Air Gun Shooting” published by the Civilian Marksmanship Program.
  • Get counter-recruitment information from NNOMY (National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth) and Project YANO (Project on Youth and Non-military Opportunities into your schools.
  • Stop students from being placed in JROTC classes without parental consent.
  • Request the JROTC enrollment statistics for each school. If any units have fallen below a total of 100 students two years in a row, agitate to remove them as required by federal law.
  • Document the lies in JROTC textbooks. Make a list and present it to the principal and your school board.
  • Make sure recruiters are not regularly occupying guidance offices.
  • Finally, if a kid is enrolled in the Delayed Entry Program (The DEP), (and 99% who enlist initially enter the DEP), and they change their mind, tell them not to report to basic training and have them check out


One Response

  1. How about telling youths to tell recruiters that “Because —a —a is still a legal beverage, therefore won’t be joining the US Armed Forces.” ?

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