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.