money for college," "learn useful skills," "be
all you can be."
and other enticements are used by military recruiters to convince
high school students to become part of the US armed forces.
As it has become harder to meet their quotas, the recruiters
make all kinds of promises to students about the benefits of
committing two or more years of their life to military service.
Faced with what they see as few and dwindling options, many
sign up only to find that most of the promises were empty.
Beginning in the fall, the Vermont AFSC will be working with
students from high schools around the state and with veterans
to provide prospective recruits with a wider choice of options
and more accurate information about the realities of military
service and war. We will assist students in forming committees
in each school who will staff counter-recruitment tables, bring
speakers to the school and provide students and parents with
the information of how to opt out of the federal requirement
that schools hand over student contact information to military
Money for college is a major reason given by young people for
joining the military. With the incomes of most working families
in the U.S. remaining fairly stagnant for the last 30 years,
fewer young people can expect significant financial help from
mom and dad. Prospective recruits are told that they could be
eligible for up to $50,000 for college expenses if they enlist.
A move to reduce funding for Pell grants, a major source of
financial help, threatens to force up to 400,000 students out
of college and makes the military option all the more attractive.
A counter recruitment effort would provide the student with
facts which recruiters leave out, such as that only 2% of recruits
ever get the promised $50,000; that the average amount received
by those who receive any money at all is $8,000, $1,200 of which
is taken out of their military salary (never to be returned,
even if the student decides not to go to college).
Student counter recruitment committees could expand their efforts
to include providing students, educators and parents with information
about how the Armed Service Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB)
is used as a recruiting tool. The ASVAB is given by over 14,000
high schools nationwide and is the admissions and placement
test for the US military. Schools often use the ASVAB because
the cost is borne by the Pentagon and the test results could,
but not necessarily tell a student what she or he is qualified
to do outside the military.
With a budget for recruitment of over $2.6 Billion dollars,
the Pentagon can afford to administer ASVAB and to have recruiters
in more schools for longer periods of time. Recruiters have
access to a wide array of resources with which to sell the idea
of a military career to young people still susceptible to jingoistic
appeals to patriotism, images of power and glory and the opportunity
to travel and learn how to use the sophisticated technology
of the modern military. One recruitment effort at Montpelier
High School included a 48 foot tractor trailer truck filled
with video games which students could use to shoot missiles
at digital displays of bridges and buildings. At the end of
their "experience," as they left the rear end of the
truck they were handed a laminated card with the logo of the
particular military service and their name emblazoned on the
card. They had just become a member of the military "family."
Counter recruitment will cost a lot less than the $11,600 the
military now spends for each enlistee. It will provide student
activists with experience in organizing, making presentations
and engaging in respectful debate with those who oppose their
efforts. And it may even save the lives of some of their friends.
more information people can contact
Joseph Gainza, Vermont AFSC
Main St., Box 19
Montpelier, Vermont 05602-2944