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(en) NorthWest America, Unfinished Business #3 - Military Service: A Poor Choice by Ella Powers

Date Sat, 15 Oct 2005 08:36:17 +0200

This war is about opening up new markets and opportunities for rich businessmen.
The billions that have been spent so far in Iraq come from working people, and we
will not see the benefit. We will feel the loss of lives, and the crumbling social structure.
The people in the United States with the least
opportunity are sacrificing the most in terms of
military service. The Department of Defense (DoD)
acknowledges in their analysis of social representa-
tion (May 2005) that people who enlist in the mili-
tary have a lack of financial resources and do
not feel that they have been successful in their
education, or that they have control over their lives.
Military recruits are not drawn to the military through
a patriotic desire to serve their country, but because
of a lack of self confidence and few opportunities.
Current military recruiting practices are appropriately
characterized as an economic draft.
Recruiters intentionally seek out areas with
depressed economies. The characteristics of those
targeted include: lower family incomes, larger family
sizes, and less educated parents. These under
appreciated men and women are suddenly desirable.
No attempts are made to recruit in the more affluent
schools, with college bound students.
The newest surge in recruiting is of non-citizens.
Citizenship is not required for enlistment, though
legal status is. Citizens are preferred because non-
citizens are not allowed to serve in some high secu-
rity jobs, and those involving nuclear weapons.
However, in the current climate recruiters are urged
to enlist non-citizens, and in fact they make up 40 to
50% of new recruits. Typically recruiters
are preying on the less privileged in our
society, who are not allowed to be a
part of the prosperity of this country, but
are asked to risk their lives.
Because the military realizes that their
personnel are not serving based on
altruism and patriotism, they fear that
retention will be low in the face of
increasing demands. Military spouses,
when polled, have reported that the rig-
orous schedules and repeated and
unpredictable deployments are "major
problems" in their families. This is one
reason recruiters are not making their
After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 the
nature of military service changed. At
the time, military analysts believed that the patriotic
fervor would lead to more volunteers. However,
recruitment has become more difficult because of the
unpopularity of the war in Iraq, long deployment over-
seas, and well publicized
casualties. The majority of Americans consider the
war to have been a mistake. The number of African
American and women recruits have decreased since
9\11. This low retention, paired with more difficulty
recruiting, results in desperate recruitment tactics.
By June 30th of this year there were an equal num-
ber of desertions already, as in the entire year of
2004. They are loosing people and using up people.
Twenty-five percent of non combat deaths are sui-
cides. In 2001 the number one cause of death in the
army was suicide.
Recruiters are salespeople. In order to make their goals,
they exaggerate the money that is available for college.
Only 2\3 of recruits receive any college
funding. Despite the extensive advertising to the con-
trary, only 12% of male recruits and 6% of female
recruits report using their military training in civilian
jobs. Also, the military is not an equal opportunity
employer. Latinos make up 10% of the military, but
20% of front line troops. African-Americans make up
20% of the military but only 5% of high-ranking posi-
tions. Furthermore the military practices the "Don't
Ask, Don't Tell" in terms of sexuality. Women rarely
have access to high ranking positions, and are likely
to experience sexual harassment and/or rape. These
are some of the main facts that are misrepresented
by recruiters and in military propaganda.
They also do not tell recruits that they have a win-
dow of time to change their mind after enlisting.
This is important because they are sometimes sign-
ing up students years before they are eligible for
This is called the Delayed Entry Program
(D.E.P.). People should know that until you
report for Basic Training, you are not in the military. If
you decide not to join after signing up with D.E.P. you
are not required to have any further contact with your
recruiter. If you don't go, you are not in the military.
This war is about opening up new markets and
opportunities for rich businessmen. The billions that
have been spent so far in Iraq come from working
people, and we will not see the benefit. We will feel
the loss of lives, and the crumbling social structure. It
is not the military and police that are being cut, but
healthcare and education. Our basic civil liberties are
threatened, and our children's information is not pri-
vate in their schools. It is time to take action.
Without the facts about the current military situation,
youth and parents cannot make informed decisions.
Four billion dollars per year is now being spent on
military recruiting in schools and public places. With
all this, it is important to show the other side.
Portlanders have joined other cities in educating stu-
dents about the reality of current military life. This
is an important part of stopping the supply of
bodies flowing into Iraq, and ending the war.
Many people do not know that for seven years Portland students
were not exposed to military recruiters at school.
Their personal information was not given out to the
federal government and the private company that
stores and controls it. With "No Child Left Behind",
the Bush administrations education law, release of
student information is mandatory unless the parent
or student opts out. This law also requires that
schools allow recruiters access to students in their
high school or state college. Now, in Portland the
recruitment issue is becoming paramount to the anti-
war movement. The Portland Anti-Recruitment
Coalition began actions on the first day of school this
year, and are continuing to educate students on this
issue, and to train them to organize in their schools
and communities.
There are two parts to the work, student and
parent participation. The student organizing is
currently focused on workshops in classrooms
and youth forums.
The parent\ teacher work is on limiting
recruiters by lobbying the school board and
increasing PTSA (Parent, Teachers, Student,
Association) participation on this issue. If you
would like to take part in this work, please con-
tact pamrcoalition@yahoo.com and come to
our October 22nd Clinic at Augustana
Lutheran Church on NE 15th and Knott, from 10am
to 2pm (in Portland). Everyone is welcome!
Ella Powers is a Portland Public School teacher. She
is a member of the Firebrand Collective, a member
collective of NAF.
Resources for Young People
About Alternate Options to
Joining The Military
For pre-enlistment, military
and draft counseling:
GI Rights Hotline: 1-800-394-
www.objector.org-The Central
Committee for
Conscientious Objectors
War Resisters League, Portland
Check out options to the mili-
(from the Military and Draft
Counseling Project)
For Job Training-
The Private Industry Youth
Employment Institute-
503-280-1058 www.yei.org
Bureau of Labor and Industries
(apprenticeships and
The Job Corps Program 503-
For Volunteer Service
Americorps-local and national
Northwest Service Academy
For College Financial Aid:
ask local community college
"The Student Guide"-free from
U.S. Dept of Education
for additional websites, call 503-

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