Friday, June 30, 2006

Hey, Teachers, Leave Those Kids Alone!

In about eight years they'll be old enough to rent a car. In four they'll be able to legally tip a pint of Guinness across the bar from me. In one they'll be able to vote. But, according to current US criteria, they're ready for military service right now.

Some high school students in New Jersey are getting a nudge to enlist in the military from their teachers, coaches and advisors. Who better to recommend a stint in the service than an authority figure who has been entrusted with the task of steering you toward a bright future?

In efforts to alleviate the ongoing recruitment shortage, New Jersey military recruiters have targeted school officials as the key to increasing youth enlistment. These educators are being treated to exciting rides in Black Hawk helicopters and hands-on high-tech weaponry demos, in hopes they will become unofficial military ambassadors to their students.

This is sort of like when a guy is not sure about buying a certain car, but the salesman knows if he can influence the guy’s wife, she’ll get him to buy the car. Sneaky motherfuckers.

I am one who believes military recruiters have no place in high schools. They have no place calling and otherwise harassing kids (who should be worrying about pimples and homework rather than national service) with vague, disingenuous sales pitches about "great opportunities."

What's surely missing from the recruiters’ spiel is any mention of the realities of military service today. No mention of beheadings of servicepersons in Mufaraji. No mention of things like "stop loss" and "recall to active duty." In other words, what’s missing is the whole truth.

High school kids are too young for the service, and, unquestionably, go into it half-blind more often that not.


A while back I was getting popcorn at a movie theatre concession stand. The attendant was a girl of about 18, pierced navel, flashy clothes and the whole thing. While getting my snack she was talking to another guy, and mentioned something about possibly being "deployed to Iraq."

Whoa!
That stunned me. I pictured this kid, who should maybe have a cell phone on her hip, but certainly not a sidearm, in a world of shit in Iraq. This was not long after the whole beheading/dismemberment craze started over there.

I wondered just what it was that made her choose to give her young life to the military. And I hoped that if she ever were deployed, she'd come back with everything intact, hopeful young mind included.


Recruiters are aware that most high school kids are not yet old enough to enlist. But they want to foster the kids’ interest early, and perhaps even get them to sign a delayed entry agreement, meaning they'll promise to join once they are old enough.

Tobacco companies are not permitted to market to kids. They can't go to schools and say, "We know you're not old enough to smoke now, but we'd like you to promise that once you are you'll smoke one of our brands." Nor should other merchants of death, like the military, be able to do that.

We are brazenly inconsistent in how we regard young people in the United States. When it comes to "privileges" (see first paragraph) they are just kids; when it comes to "responsibilities" (i.e. things we want from them) somehow they instantly become adults. The institutions of this country readily loosen up their standards when it benefits them.

We don't want teens to drink or smoke or fuck because we just can't stand the thought of those young, innocent people doing such horrible things, but we don't mind encouraging them to take up arms and put their young lives in harm's way for something that is only occasionally for a good cause. That's just sick.

I called "bullshit" on this when I was a teenager, and more than 20 years later it still stinks like acres of manure. But it steams me even more now - even more than one of k9's infamous hot browns - since the "relative" peace of the 80s (Grenada, Panama, etc.) gave way to sustained bloodshed.

Using kids as IED fodder is wrong; it's inarguable. Deceiving them about it is right there next to it on the wrongness scale. Treating them like kids in the same breath is the icing on our immoral, hypocritical cake, which we are obviously having and eating, too. Shame on us.

25 comments:

K9 said...

/bark bark bark

i agree. and as a counterpoint i heard they raised the enlist age limit to 42. and, they should raise it still. theres a whole bunch of older guys who would go for a whole host of reasons.....and even if they arent fighting hard they can fill up machines or slop out grub as well as any kid can. i would go right now just to get away from the project from hell i am in.

"sorry! ive been deployed! c-ya"

/grrrrrrrrrrr

Pete Bogs said...

they keep raising the age thinking they'll get me to join... haha! not gonna happen... not with a neocon nitwit as commander in chief...

Bird said...

the military launched an advertsiing offensive last october- specifically targetting college students and high school students that are college bound. the military is having trouble recruiting because more students choose to go to college.

no doubt you've seen their tv ads, but they also have a print campagin. like any company trying to sell something, the military analyzed their demographic market and figured out who they really need to sell to. on tv, they are selling the parents - in the print ads, they target young people.

don't know how much sucess they're having with their ads...

but i detest them coming into the schools. they claim it's no different that other companies - but when you are employed by other cmpanies, you're not, typically, at risk of being killed or being in a position to kill.

NCLB funding is also tied to providng the military access to student names and contact info.

parents can opt out - you sign a form which removes your kid from the list.

in the county in which i live, a peace organization was not allowed to display their brochures advising against the military in high school career centers.

the army also offers on its website, "educational" materials for teachers to use to open their students' eyes to the possible career opportunities in the army.

Pete Bogs said...

bird - I don't know of other employers that will hook you up with AK-47s... it is indeed no typical employment situation... there are groups here in FL trying to get into schools to even out the message, and they're having a real time with it... shame it should be so difficult to get the whole truth to kids; it's like the abstience-only sex ed debate...

DO NOT TRUST ANYONE OR ANYTHING THAT DOES NOT WANT YOU TO HAVE THE WHOLE STORY ABOUT THEM!

rusty shakelford said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
rusty shakelford said...

Who should join the military if not people in the physical prime of their lives? Military service is a great way to advance a professional career. Most people who get out of the military advance into great jobs. a lot of the young people I know who join the military do it for the adventure and sense of honor that comes with earning the rights you enjoy for free. I cant think of a single country on earth that doesn't ask (or tell) its young people to defend the country.

I guess if it was up to you America's youth would grow up and be "temps" so they can complain about the heath insurance they are "entitled" to but don't get.

Pete Bogs said...

rusty - you'd make a great recruiter... you missed my point entirely, or ignored it... who gives a fuck what they do in Zimbabwe or in Britain for that matter? because a lot of countries recruit their youth doesn't make it right - or moral... how can kids be too young for some things and not old enough for others?

this wasn't anti-military... this was against deceiving kids... as you have some of your own, I'm sure you don't you want them to know that the nice man on the corner leading them into the candy shop may be going to hurt them?

build the military WITHOUT children, or make children adults... don't straddle the fence on their rights and responsibilities when it suits you... and don't hide the truth from them... you can make jibes at me but you can't argue with those points... you completely failed to address the dichotomy at the core of this post...

and here you go with the vague "opportunities spiel," right on cue... they may get out and get a good job, or they may go to Iraq and end up as a booby-trapped corpse on the side of the road... TELL THEM BOTH! don't sell them on dreams of neato guns and vehicles and leave out the potential downside...

I didn't think I was complaining about insurance... many people have to deal with COBRA, and it ain't a great system...

I'm not sure if you're suggesting that everyone in this country should be in the military... sounds like it... the United States of Sparta - I love it!

the truth is, the country needs bakers, garbagemen, paperboys, accountants, secretaries, lawyers, cab drivers and yes, even loser "temp" copywriters like me (your implication was clear, and your "compassion" for a semi-struggling fellow American notable) as much as we need soldiers... I've met people like you - former military with a chip on their shoulders... "I enlisted, busted my ass and risked my neck, so EVERYONE should have to..." that's not how it is, nor should ever be... we all follow our own paths in life, or at least we should... if yours is the military, great, but don't go into it immature and ignorant... that's no way to do anything...

I actually had you pegged as "ok," but certain of your comments have me questioning that...

The Flabbergasted Heathen said...

Ok, allow me to brace myself for the rath of Bogs...

I am in favour of mandatory military service for all citizens.

*dodges empty Guinness glass*

See, up here, we're not currently involved in any illegal wars where we haven't the slightest clue as to what we're doing. I support a mandatory three year term of service for all citizens after A) Getting your high school diploma -OR- B) Dropping out of high school.

The benefits to this (as I see it) are as follows:

All of your citizens will posess a skill, be fully trained by the government, and not be in debt to some college for dozens of years.

Your country has a fully trained military that can be called up in the case of an EMERGENCY (ie not Iraq).

Your citizens have an idea of what service to their country really is.

Sure, it's not as important, but it'll raise the fitness level.

There are more, but I'm sleepy. I'm not talking about a lifetime comittment, just a term of service. Sure, they're available in an emergency *cough* not Iraq *cough*, but there's only been three of those in my country's 139 year history, and the public was only drafted for two of those. Better to have the public trained beforehand, and get some benefit out of it, than to be used and tossed away if needed.

I should really have organized my thoughts better...oh well, I'm sure they'll come out in rebuttal.

Bird said...

"Military service is a great way to advance a professional career. Most people who get out of the military advance into great jobs."


Really? MOST? I'd love to see some stats that support that claim.

What great jobs? IF they skip college and are grunts in the army - what great jobs are waiting for them? and right now, the military is trying to pull in high schoolers and college freshmen - yanking them away from the schooling they need. bad news i think.

"a lot of the young people I know who join the military do it for the adventure"

yes - they are sold on the "adventure." does anyone tell them how adventurous it is in the desert sands and the hot streets of baghdad - being shot at? big time adventure. can hardly wait.

"and sense of honor that comes with earning the rights you enjoy for free."

not sure at all what you're talking about there rusty. the solider earn rights that i have for free? why don't they have the rights for free? or they are earning my rights for me? my rights are mine automatically - i have them from the get-go - at least the declaration of independence says so (we hold these truths to be self-evident...remember that?) do you mean these soliders are protecting my rights? don't think so. not sure how fighting in iraq protects my rights at all.

"I cant think of a single country on earth that doesn't ask (or tell) its young people to defend the country."

yes - we need an active, trained, intelligent military to defend the country. but we've learned in the past 40 years that often, our young people are sent off on wars that have nothing to do with defending country.

joining the military is a major decision that should be made with full information. the military's recrutiment tactics are unethical. really love those video games they use to pump young, impressionable men with. really love the ads that pull on emotion but provide no solid info on pay, benefits, risks, etc.

young people need to make decisions based on solid info. the military doesn't recruit that way - it's all patriotic mumbo jumbo, deception and propaganda.

some drink the kool-aid; some don't.

sorry bogs - i think i've digressed from your main point as well. just a little pissed-off here at rr and his generalizations.

rusty shakelford said...

**on subject**

Before anyone joins the military you have to sign two papers. One says your not gay and if become gay keep it to yourself (no pun intended) the second reads: Military service can and has lead to death or injury. Recruiters don't dwell on the death thing, if you don't know what the military does then you won't pass the test to get in.

As far as the drinking and what not, most bases will allow you to drink with a military ID.
As for delayed enlistment it means nothing. You are not in the military until you arive in basic training. Everyone I joined up with knew that.

**off subject**
Bird, I never tried to be a recruiter but here it goes. The military offers 100% college tuition both while in the service and after. They will pay for one bachelors one masters and a professional certification (computers, nursing etc. . .) the training you do in the first 4 years awards an associates. Not all take advantage and not all go on to better things, In my experience most do. My time is up in one year. I currently have two offers on the table and am interviewing for another this month(ohh guess what, the military set up the interview for me)
The moral of the story for all the "Kids" is if you put your life on the line and serve then you will be rewarded. You may die as tens and thousands have before you, but even that is an honor. Plus the government will drop 500k on your family.

Bird your rights are their because young men and woman gave their lives for them. rights don't exist without someone's protection. It is no coincidence that bombs are not dropping from the sky and we live in the same country that was established in 1776.

PS. I have a hard time seeing someone afraid of dying joining up. But if they did the military can fix the fear thing ;>

Pete Bogs said...

rusty - I'm sure the military has death and dismemberment somewhere in the fine print... that's the part most people never read, though... they don't dwell on it, they focus on the fun and excitement factors... that's not honest... btw, many people who go right to work or to college after high school do okay... some who join the military don't... point is, that's no guarantee of future success... and it's a high price for a young person to pay to get college for free... the 18-year-old from my area who was blown up in Iraq just months after his high school graduation will never see college...

bird - I think most of what you and everyone have said has been on topic... the core issues to me, though, are the child?/adult? dichotomy, and the morality of asking kids to fight...

flab - you seem to know me well... I am ok with some kind of national service after school, but it shouldn't have to be military... we should have more to offer than guns...

Pete Bogs said...

PS re: delayed enlistment... the point was, they should not even be able to BEGIN talking to someone until their old enough to participate... I think I made the analogy very clear...

infinitesimal said...

there was a ruckus here because a
"Physical Fitness"
event was put on in high schools
and point was to bring on healthier habits

but

thing went south becuase it turned out to be army recruiters.

Pete Bogs said...

stealth marketing... you always know it's a good thing when they're trying to sneak it past you...

warvigilent said...

another point to reinforce for rusty is that though the military will cover plenty of education costs the person must still be eligible to take those courses in the first place, high school dropouts dont qualify for very many post secondary edcuation studies and even trade/technical schools require some level of high school education.

also an often overlooked problem of veterans is when they are not wounded in combat but rather get sick because conditions like exposure to depleted uranium (though this is better known for affecting their children to be born) aswell as soldiers who become afflicted with mental disorders, their is little in support or sympathy for overstressed or otherwised distressed soldiers. wether they are being forced into combat despite unpredictible disordors or simply becoming addicted to one or many of the bag of over the counter drugs that is their only treatment. nam brough soldiers home addicted to things like coke and heroin, iraq is bring home soldiers addicted to valium.

rusty shakelford said...

Bogs, I think you dont give people enough credit. When a kid in high school talks to a recuiter he/she knows what dangers come with being in the military.

The Flabbergasted Heathen said...

Bogs, the military has lots of positions available that don't involve shooting some poor bastard in the head. You can be a cook, a waiter, a musician, an intelligence analyst, hell, damn near anything you can be in the civillian world. And I'm not sure how it works in Bushganistan, but up here, you have some choice as to what you want to do in the military.

Pete Bogs said...

rusty - he/she probably has a vague idea, which is not helped by all the "positive" crap that's put into their heads at the same time... but it's moot for me, because in case you didn't catch it the first time, they're too young to be making that sort of choice...

Jack K. said...

Bogs, I love you man, and I don't want your Bud Lite.

But, methinks you have almost gone from preaching to meddling. I will have a post about this very soon.

I think your main point is that, until they reach the legal age of 18, they are too young to process the information provided by recruiters. Particularly in the format of video games. Excellent point.

bird, I agree that peace groups should also have an opportunity to present information at job fairs concerning peace jobs.

And for goodness sakes bogs, don't throw those Guinness bottles at anyone. They should be recycled. lol.

ttfn

Pete Bogs said...

jack - that was not exactly the point... I don't think people become ready for anything overnight... my point is (one of them, anyway), we should decide what a "kid" is and be consistent with it - not shift the criteria when it suits us... I look forward to your post...

Buck said...

Okay, here is my point(s).

I believe if you are old enough to vote, you are old enough to fight. And also drink.

I disagree with you when you said the military is hiding the cost of the war.....which, btw, they don't get a choice on which war they have to fight.....the folks in the suits make those decisions.

Military recruiters must identify themselves as such. And if you do not want mandatory national service then you have a volunteer force. Since most high schoolers have turn eighteen near the end of their senior year, it is too late start the process at that time. As for not allowing other groups to protest or give their side of the story, that is not up to the military to decide....that is the call of the local school board, school officials, etc.

The age of majority is 18....there are rights and privaledges thatg come with that....some I believe need to be restored. Anyone who wishes to enlist below that age (i.e., delayed entry) must have a parent or guardian's permission to do so.

Pete Bogs said...

I want a volunteer force - just not made of children... there are actually very few rights you gain at 18; they are mostly responsibilities... rights come later, it seems...

Pete Bogs said...

what does parents' permission mean? I already knew all of this stuff that has been pointed out on here... is there a "vote at 17 with parents' permission" option? again, for the millionth time, let's decide what an adult is an be consistent with it... that's unrealistic, but not unreasonable...

the military doesn't show the beheading videos and dead civilians alongside the neato, patriotic stuff during their recruitment spiels, I guar-an-fucking-tee it... and when the "liberal media" does present the true cost of war, as you have termed it, they are attacked by the right as unpatriotic, and on the side of the enemy...

CROAK said...

Interesting post Bogs.

I can't believe I disagree with Jack. "Meddling? I don't think you were.
Your arguments were right on!
You old enough to die, you are old enough to vote, drink, have an abortion, etc.

If the military are offering higher education for those that sign on then why isn't the great USA offering the same for all young people not just those saluting and dying?

Aunty Belle said...

High school kids is too young?? BAwgs...did'ja ever heah of Alexander the Great? Mah daddy said it saved his sorry 15 year old--er' "self".