To the Editor:The army recruiting officer quoted in your July 4 story lists education, job training, new skills, life direction, and travel opportunity as reasons local youth join the military. All this is indeed promised by the recruiters allowed in our schools.
Particularly susceptible to recruiters’ promises are youth whose families are not able to afford the rising cost of college. Hence recruiters frequent our high school but are never seen in affluent Naperville schools.
An informal quiz of local students revealed that:
• 25 percent believe they are guaranteed the assignment the recruiter promised if they get it in writing.
• They will be released when their enlistment contract is up.
However, the very contract they sign states clearly that the government can change any part of it without notifying the enlistee. Hence, instead of operating some high tech weaponry, for a stated period of time as promised, volunteers find themselves with a rifle on repeated assignments to combat in hellish war zones, subjected to the grisly horrors of war.
Half our students were unaware that women were more than twice as likely to be sexually assaulted in the military as in civilian life. This disgrace is documented in a video we have available for loan, entitled “The Invisible War.”
Studies done years after high school graduation found that students going directly into the workforce fared far better in income than those who went into the military first.
The travel opportunity listed by the recruiter is ludicrous. As proclaimed in a poster “Join the Navy, travel the world, meet exotic people – and kill them.”
With the suicide rate among veterans shockingly high, we need to protect our youth from unknowingly signing up to fight in foreign wars. Let’s work instead to:
• Make opportunities for college, job training and employment available to all aspiring youth, regardless of family income.
• Lower the cost of college through federal grants
• Ensure availability of medical and other services to returning veterans, many of whom, after repeated combat deployments, wander our streets, unemployed, homeless, and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Rather than continuing to invest in the world’s largest military budget and highest percentage of our population behind bars, let’s invest in our youth by making education, job training, counselling and health care readily available to all aspiring young people, especially veterans.