Deborah White looks at military recruiting as it focuses on our children, starting before they are old enough to vote.
"An effective sales approach would be to tailor a program to fit the needs and interests of the individual (high) school," exhorts the US Army's School Recruiting Program Handbook.
"For example, one school may place a premium on its music program; another may give prominence to its athletic program. One school may place more emphasis on its academic scholarship program. Each school has a distinct chain of command structure."
Thus, the handbook, first published in Fall 2004, directs Army recruiters on how to strategize an high school program to maximize enlistment among students. And if that's not enough to entice teenagers, in June 2005, the Defense Department began working with an outsourced direct marketing company to develop a database of personal and private information about every American aged 16 to 25. Included in the database will be Social Security numbers, ethnicity and racial data, email addresses, birth dates and grade point averages.
I was drafted at the age of twenty-one and had been in uniform over eighteen months before I finally worked through the real reasons I had registered as a conscientious objector. It was then that I came to the shocking but real conclusion that I might at some time kill someone else in order to protect myself or my patients. (All CO's are, by design, medical corpsmen.) But under no circumstances could I allow myself to follow the orders of someone else to kill. That responsibility is too great for me to delegate to someone else. By then I had met and got to know too many stupid and irrational men in positions of authority who lived their lives without benefit of faith or conscience. Most people in leadership I saw were not that savage, but there were enough in subordinate positions of authority that I needed protection from their careless ignorance.
Enticing children into the military before they have matured is one of history's worst traditions. It is not unique to either our culture or our time. It is the way wars have been fought from the start of human history.
To enlist in the US armed forces, one must be a high school graduate, of reasonable intelligence and in good health. As recruiters fail to meet recruiting quotas, parents and students claim these rules have been bent.
One Arvada, Colorado high school senior famously tested the recruiting system by posing as a high school drop-out with a drug habit. After considerable coaching by two recruiters, he gained a phony diploma and transcripts from an online diploma mill. They also offered to pay half the cost of a self-detox kit.
At a Bell, California high school, 500 juniors were required to take the 3-hour Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery test, which is prime part of the recruitment process. Only after they took the test did parents and students discover that it was optional.
Be. All that you can be. In the Army.
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