David Swanson -
U.S. military recruiters are teaching in public school classrooms, making presentations at school career days, coordinating with JROTC units in high schools and middle schools, volunteering as sports coaches and tutors and lunch buddies in high, middle, and elementary schools, showing up in humvees with $9,000 stereos, bringing fifth-graders to military bases for hands-on science instruction, and generally pursuing what they call "total market penetration" and "school ownership."
But counter-recruiters all over the United States are making their own presentations in schools, distributing their own information, picketing recruiting stations, and working through courts and legislatures to reduce military access to students and to prevent military testing or the sharing of test results with the military without students' permission. This struggle for hearts and minds has had major successes and could spread if more follow the counter-recruiters' example.
Sarah Grey, Truthout | Report
When he got home from Iraq, Hart Viges began sorting through his boyhood toys, looking for some he could pass on to his new baby nephew. He found a stash of G.I. Joes - his old favorites - and the memories came flooding back.
"I thought about giving them to him," he said. But the pressures of a year in a war zone had strengthened Viges' Christian faith, and he told the Army that "if I loved my enemy I couldn't see killing them, for any reason." He left as a conscientious objector. As for the G.I. Joes, "I threw them away instead." Viges had grown up playing dress-up with his father's, grandfather's and uncles' old military uniforms. "What we tell small kids has such a huge effect," he told Truthout. "I didn't want to be the one telling him to dream about the military."
As the mother of a 6-year-old, I know what he means. My partner and I, as longtime antiwar activists, work hard to talk to our daughter about war, violence and peace in age-appropriate ways.
Kate Connell -
In the spring of 2014, I went to observe a career day at Santa Barbara High School, where my son is enrolled. There were a variety of organizations with representatives and literature tables. The Marines and the Navy recruiters were also there. They were soliciting student contact information. The Marine’s “survey” form included questions such as, “Did you know that the Marine Corps has a $150,000 scholarship?” and “Did you know that the qualifications for the Marine Corps are higher than the standards of UC Santa Barbara?” I told them that under the school’s existing recruiting protocol they were not allowed to get student information directly from students, and that they had to go through the Santa Barbara Unified School District office.
I turned around and saw the school's career counselor and approached him, reminding him about the school's recruiter protocol. He didn’t recall that part of the protocol and said he would talk to the military recruiters about it. I asked, “What about the information they have already gathered from students?” I went back to the Marine recruiters and repeated that they were not allowed to solicit student information. I picked up the surveys they had collected and said that I was going to tear them up and throw them out. They consented, so I ripped them up.
I went to the Navy recruiters’ table and told them the same thing. They had a binder with the protocol in it and looked it up. The Navy recruiter said, "That's correct, here it is, in 'G.'" (G. Recruiters visiting schools shall not at any time solicit contact information directly from students or require it as a condition to participate in an activity or receive an award or gift.) I said, "I am going to take this sign-up sheet and tear it up," holding it up for them to see, and they also said ok.
By Pat Elder -
In describing Grapes’ Iraq War exploits, Benedictine’s student newspaper dismissed the fact he was accused of ordering marines under his command to shoot four captured prisoners. Grapes refused to talk to government investigators, citing his Fifth Amendment rights.
It’s quite a lesson for students at Benedictine, which is kind of a poster child for the modern militarized Catholic school. Every year Benedictine requires all juniors to take the military entrance exam. The school operates an Army JROTC program and has a student organization that teaches students how to use small arms. Of course, these are expected activities in a military school. The question is whether these activities are appropriate in a Catholic school.
Pat Elder -
For years DOD recruiting commanders have attempted to circumvent student privacy protections that are designed to shield minors from the wholesale transfer of student information from the nation's high schools to the Pentagon's Military Entrance Processing Command.
The DOD markets "career opportunities" through the schools, relying on a variety of methods, from Channel One, a 12-minute, highly commercialized, daily TV program that reaches as many as 5 million children a day, to various posters and announcements touting military service or other schemes like the Career Exploration Program. For the most part, however, these outreach efforts ultimately rely on the schools as a third party from which to extract student data. Until now, the DOD's quest for greater access to children has been somewhat stymied by pesky state and federal laws that regulate the flow of student information from the schools.