As U.S. popular support for the occupation of Iraq has fallen, so has military recruitment.
In an attempt to turn this around, the Army recently added $500 million to its recruitment budget, raising the total for the program to $1.3 billion. Another 1,000 recruiters have been added to bring the total for the Army and the Army Reserve to nearly 7,500.
In 2002, the military spent $6.3 million for a video game, “America's Army,” as a marketing tool. Over the past three years, the U.S. Department of Defense has been quietly compiling a database with personal information on about 30 million high school and college students.
Concerned parents, students, and activists are finding ways to counter the military sales program. Here are some ways you can get involved:
Take the “I will not kill” pledge. The Fellowship of Reconciliation has launched the “I will not kill” campaign in an effort to educate youth about the reality of war and their right to say no to killing (www.forusa.org
Find alternatives to military service as a way out of poverty. The American Friends Service Committee presents alternatives to the military as a way out of poverty and other points to consider before enlisting in the military (www.afsc.org/youthmil
Keep your school free of recruiters. The Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors offers “The Military Out of Our Schools Organizing Kit,” which can be downloaded from their website, objector.org. United for Peace and Justice offers many resources, including forms for opting out of the No Child Left Behind mandatory military access to high school children (www.unitedforpeace.org). Washington Truth in Recruiting has information on developing resolutions on military recruiting for local school boards to consider (www.watir.org
Listen to the veterans. Fire Mountain Chapter Fellowship of Reconciliation (Washington state) has a counter-recruitment CD for distribution free to high school students. The CD consists of veterans speaking from their personal experiences about what you should know before signing up for the military. The statements are interspersed with original anti-war music. (Contact email@example.com.) Veterans who oppose the use of war as a tool of foreign policy are willing to speak to interested citizens (www.veteransforpeace.org
Larry Kerschner, a Vietnam infantry veteran, works with the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Veterans for Peace, and Voices in the Wilderness.