Friday, April 15, 2011

There's No Quick Fix for Veterans


Huffington Post Posted: 04/13/11 08:25 PM ET

It has been nearly five years since I left the Army and still my time in the service is fresh in my mind. I think about my deployments every single day without fail. I have friends and family, responsibilities and passions that keep me moving, but the time I spent in the Army and in Iraq are what continue to define me.
Many current and former service members feel the same way. The act of participating in war casts a shadow over everything else in life. Facing high stress and danger for so long makes it tremendously difficult to leave the military and rejoin civilian society. Day-to-day concerns seem trivial compared to the life or death urgency of military situations. When I first came home, I would become furious at how easily everyone in this country can carry on virtually ignoring the fact that we are at war.
I worked as a server as I used my GI Bill benefits to earn a bachelor's degree in English Communication, but after graduating with honors, I could not find a job in my field. After a year of looking for meaningful employment, I enrolled in graduate school largely out of fear that my degree would become obsolete before I could even get a shot at any real work experience. The fact that women veterans are among the highest unemployed populations leaves me with questions about whether my service is continuing to hurt me in ways I cannot even see.  Read more

Maggie Martin served as a Sergeant in the US Army Signal Corps, and she served two tours in Iraq.  She is an organizer with Iraq Veterans Against the War's Operation Recovery Campaign and the Warrior Writers project.  Maggie is presently a graduate student at Marygrove College in Detroit, Michigan, and her poetry has been published in Fellowship Magazine.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Military in Schools in the United States

The Broken Rifle - Newsletter of War Resisters' International [No. 88, March 2011]

24 Mar 2011 — warresisters

• Oskar Castro
Every year in the United States, millions of young people are faced with the difficult challenge of figuring out what to do with their lives after they graduate from high school. For various reasons, many of them end up considering joining the US Armed Forces, but the commonality among all of those who enlist and those who don’t enlist is that they are all regularly bombarded with military recruitment propaganda pretty much from the time they are born. Whether it is on their television, their computer, at the toy store, or in their classroom, the pitch to embrace the military is everywhere.
The end of World War II saw the United States emerge as a military powerhouse due to the significant role it played in the defeat of Nazi Germany, fascist Italy, and imperial Japan. Then the Cold War materialised which meant that the perceived threat of communism by way of the powerful Soviet Union had to be met with a show of incredible force. The military propaganda machine ratcheted up and the once neutral nation was now a militaristic monstrosity with an ever-growing military industrial complex benefiting from the fear.  Read more . . .

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Cost of Our Wars
Posted by William Astore at 4:10pm, February 20, 2011.
On Listening to Our Troops
By William J. Astore
“Support our troops” is an unconditional American mantra.  We’re told to celebrate them as warrior-liberators, as heroes, as the finest fighters the world has ever known. They’re to be put on a pedestal or plinth, holding a rifle and a flag, icons to American toughness and goodness.
What we’re not told to do is listen to them.
Today, I’d like to suggest six vows we should make when it comes to those troops:
Vow #1: Let’s start listening to them.  And when we do -- when we begin to recognize them in all their frailty and complexity, their vulnerabilities and imperfections -- we’ll realize that they’re as restless and conflicted about our wars as many of us are.
How do I know?  I’ve had the privilege of reading hundreds of emails from today’s (and yesterday’s) troops sent to me in response to articles I’ve written for  From these I’ve selected a handful of passages to share with you: voices that resonated with me, words that often got me right in the gut.
Consider this passage from an Army national guardsman, a non-commissioned officer who answered his country’s call and deployed to Iraq:
“I am… on my second tour of Iraq.  My unit… has been plagued by suicides and psychiatric problems.  Our guards-men even prior to deployment come from compromised social and economic environments, leaving them very susceptible [to military recruiters].  Many of our soldiers are almost forced into volunteering for multiple tours due to the lack of economic opportunity and the cold fact that there is no other way to support their families...

“I have seen blatant corruption among the [private] contractors [in Iraq] and even cases of outright human trafficking and forced prostitution among female third country nationals… My hope is that the U.S. can withdraw from this senseless war… This war has bankrupted the U.S. and caused untold suffering among U.S. Forces and women.”
When we praise our troops as volunteers in our “All-Volunteer Military,” how many of us consider that significant numbers of them are not truly volunteers?  Rarely do we face the fact that our country has been running a poverty draft, sweeping up the disenfranchised and disadvantaged, with an emphasis on the rural working class, and sending them halfway across the world into harm’s way.
Which leads to my second vow:
Vow #2: Let’s stop consoling ourselves with the myth that all our troops are volunteers -- a myth which leads most Americans to pay remarkably little attention to and take no responsibility for the wars our “volunteers” are fighting.
Read more

Monday, February 28, 2011

Young Filmmakers Decry the Trillion-Dollar Cost of Two Dumb Wars

Derrick Crowe

Posted: February 10, 2011 11:53 AM

What would you do with $1 trillion? Unfortunately, one of Washington, D.C.'s answers over the last decade has been, "waste it on two wars that make us less safe and cause deep suffering at home and abroad." The true costs of those bad decisions will be paid by today's youth, since policymakers failed to raise the revenue to pay for it when they started the debacles in Afghanistan and Iraq. But, nobody in D.C. asked the young people what they'd do with that money. So, next week, some of those youth are going to Washington to tell them in person.
Late last year, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and the National Priorities Project sponsored a youth film-making contest called, "If I Had A Trillion Dollars." Entrants had to be age 13-23 and had to produce a video around one to three minutes in length addressing the $1 trillion cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. In January, the panel of judged picked two winners, both of which are embedded below, to receive the first place prize: $500 and a trip to Washington, D.C. to screen their film for Members of Congress, the Obama Administration and the press.
Briseida Montiel
"If I Had A Trillion Dollars"

Friday, February 12, 2010

As unemployment ranks swell, veterans fare worse

WASHINGTON — Victor Ruiz has been looking for work since January.
  • Posted on Monday, November 30, 2009

An Air Force pension helps, but it's not enough to keep his family afloat. His house is in foreclosure, and he and his two teenage children are leaving Fircrest, Wash., to live with his parents in Chicago.
Ruiz, 39, is a retired Air Force major who has an MBA, oversaw an $80 million computer network that helped track incoming missiles and nuclear detonations, and at various times supervised more than 100 people.
"I am the most educated of my three siblings, but I am the one moving back home," Ruiz said.
Ruiz's story isn't uncommon. Many veterans, especially younger and injured ones, are struggling to find civilian jobs in a troubled economy.
The unemployment rate for veterans who left the military during the past three years is 18 percent, nearly twice the national average. The average for all veterans is about 11.6 percent. Even those numbers, however, may not reflect the situation as the economy worsened.
Six months ago, members of the 81st Combat Team of the Washington National Guard were patrolling in such places as Mosul, Balad and Ramadi in Iraq. Now, after returning home in August, roughly 40 percent of the 2,400 Guardsmen from Washington state are still looking for work.
Meantime, the Pentagon during the third quarter reimbursed the Labor Department nearly $186 million for veterans' unemployment benefits, an increase of more than 70 percent from a year ago.
"It's just heartbreaking," said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. "They volunteer, serve our country honorably and come back and can't find a job."

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Drafted at 19, Opposing Military Recruiters at 61

Published: May 9, 2009

MIAMI — Every morning before school starts, Miles Woolley, a drafting teacher at Southwest Miami High School, gets a reminder of military life when the Junior R.O.T.C. honor guard marches by his classroom.

“Their marching and parading around in uniforms stirs bad memories in me,” he said.

Mr. Woolley, 61, is a Vietnam veteran whose service left him with a bullet in his head, a mostly useless left hand and a dragging left foot. He was drafted at age 19, not much older than his students are now, and transformed from a small-town newlywed into a fast-shooting reconnaissance soldier.

The prospect that his students might follow that path haunts him.

Southwest Miami High is a sprawling but orderly place that offers a wide range of classes, including cosmetology, auto shop and Advanced Placement calculus, to 2,800 students, most of whom are Hispanic and from low-income families.

Like many such high schools, it is also a focus for military recruiting. Hundreds of students take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or Asvab, test each year. More than 100 are enrolled in the Army J.R.O.T.C., drilling, marching and using dummy guns. And every Tuesday and Wednesday, recruiters from the Army, Navy and Marines set up tables in the lobby outside the cafeteria, handing out water bottles, key chains and stickers and talking up the benefits of a military career.

“There’s a lot of student interest,” said Sgt. Juan Montoya, an Army recruiter who visits the school and calls students’ homes. “The big obstacle is the parents, who think we’re going to send their kids off into combat.”

Mr. Woolley avoids the lobby.  Read article

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Soldiers: Army forced us to deploy despite health woes

By Gregg Zoroya, USA TODAY
FAIRBANKS, Alaska — When the "Arctic Warriors" Stryker Brigade left for Iraq from nearby Fort Wainwright late last year, commanders told soldiers who were suffering medical problems that they would also go to war.
Spc. Mark Oldham was on a plane to Iraq by Dec. 5 despite being declared unfit because he passes out during training and requires a 30-day heart-monitor exam, his medical records show.

ARMY: Report targets policy on combat fitness
Sgt. Jesse McElroy, a combat veteran who had shoulder surgery in September and could barely move his arm, according to his medical records, was told to deploy or face charges for malingering.

Chief Warrant Officer Adisa "A.J." Aiyetoro, a 19-year veteran who is stricken with active tuberculosis and unable to wear body armor because of back injuries, according to medical and court records, refused to go. "I'm not getting on that plane," he says. His court-martial on charges of disobeying an order and missing a deployment is scheduled for Monday.  Read article

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

States Push to Take Back National Guard

Wednesday 11 February 2009
by: Maya Schenwar, truthout/Report

Going on its seventh year, the Iraq war has taken its toll on not only the US military, but also on the state's National Guard units, which were called up when Congress passed the 2002 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) against Iraq.  Now a growing state-level movement is working to keep the Guard at home.

Its logic: The AUMF's goals have been fulfilled.  The authorization's explicit purposes were to defend the US against the "threat posed by Iraq" and to enforce UN Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq's alleged ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction.  Saddam Hussein - along with his supposed threat - is gone, and the UN resolutions are no longer relevant, so there's no longer a mandate to keep troops in Iraq.

The president can call up the state's Guard units in a time of war.  But when the mandate for war becomes obsolete, say members of the Bring the Guard Home: It's the Law (BTGH) campaign, sending those troops overseas is ilegal.  BTGH members and their allies are now sponsoring a chain of bills and resolutions in states across the country, demanding an investigation into the legality of deploying the Guard to Iraq, and a refusal to comply with any illegal federal orders.

"There is not Congressional authorization for the use of the Guard today," Vermont State Rep. Mike Fisher told Truthout.  "One Guard member improperly called into federal service to fight a war - that's a real problem.  Choosing to go to war is one of the most serious decisions that we make.  The very least we can do is follow the Constitution.".

The state legislators involved in the campaign argue that it is their duty, along with the governor's, to ensure Guard members' welfare.  Although a governor can't order the Guard's return, he or she does have the right to challenge federalization orders (mandates to call up the Guard) in the first place.  Every month, another set of call-ups sends more Guard members overseas.  Should a state decide to refuse a federalization order, the case would likely be brought to the courts. Read more

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Recruiting stand-down ordered

Probe of Houston suicides prompts wide-ranging action

By Michele Tan - Staff writer, Army
Posted: Thursday Jan 29, 2009 10:45:21 EST

Army Secretary Pete Geren has ordered a stand-down of the Army's entire recruiting force and a review of almost every aspect of the job is underway in the wake of a wide-ranging investigation of four suicides in the Houston Recruiting Battalion.  Poor command climate, failing personal relationships and long, stressful work days were factors in the suicides, the investigation found. The investigation officer noted a "threatening" environment in the battalion and that leaders may have tried to influence statements from witnesses.
"There were some things found that are disturbing," said Brig. Gen. Del Turner, deputy commanding general for Accessions Command and the officer who conducted the investigation.
While he declined to discuss what action might be taken, Turner has recommended disciplinary action against battalion- and brigade level commanders  He declined to discuss what action might be taken.
The report was not made public, with officials citing extensive personal information contained in the report
The four recruiters who killed themselves were all combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.  The Army did not identify them.  Read the full article

Monday, August 18, 2008

Protect Your Privacy

Juneau students return to school September 2nd.  High students and their parents are encouraged to review the District's information about privacy rights and the right to withhold permission for the District to release student name and home contact information to military recruiters.  Look for Form 8330F in the packet your family received and review it.  If you are not comfortable having recruiters from the several branches of the military calling you at home you will want to be sure to check the appropriate box(es), sign that form and submit it to the school (or District) office in a timely manner.  At the right are links to both the parent and the student version of the form.  

The SeaTIR steering committee worked with the Board Policy Committee during the 2006-07 school year to get the District to rework the wording of its regulations and form for withholding permission for release of "directory information" to military recruiters as required by the No Child Left Behind Act to be sure parents and students understand that they can "opt-out" from the lists sent to military recruiters without worrying that they would not hear from colleges or the companies marketing school rings, etc.

The District now provides a specific form for use by students themselves, as provided in the NCLB, and also the regulations specify that the request can be made in any form, including a handwritten note signed by the student.  While other requests relating to release of  student records can only be the parent or qualified student over 18 years, in the case of withholding that information from military recruiters can be made by any secondary school student.

The District and high school websites should provide a link to the necessary form.  If you do not see it there, you may want to call the District Office to ask that it be added.  You should be aware that the District has a very short time to the deadline when these forms need to be received.  DON'T WAIT!  GET YOUR FORM 8330F IN  RIGHT AWAY.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Pushing Back at Pushy Recruiters

jay street
Pictured here are three of the artists working on a mural in Sunset Park. (Photos: David Gonzalez/The New York Times)

A mural that is slowly going up on the industrial edge of Sunset Park is shaping up to be one huge Do Not Disturb sign directed at military recruiters. Its creators? A group of young women — barely out of high school — who are still smarting from what they saw as repeated and unwanted come-ons from recruiters who would stop them on the street, in school or call them at home.

“If you go to some Manhattan schools or places where the families have a higher income, you don’t see the recruiters there,” said Ebony Thurman, 18, who was once approached by recruiters at the Atlantic Avenue subway station. “But if you’re in Brooklyn or in lower income neighborhoods, that’s where you really find them trying to recruit people. They tell you that you’ll get job skills or college money. And if you’re a girl they’ll flirt with you and say there a lot of cute guys you could meet if you enlist.” Read more

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Home from the Military

COLORLINES The National newsmagazine on race and politics
July/August 2008
By Michelle Chen
WHEN KRISTINA MCCAULEY LOOKS BACK on her time in boot camp, one scene sticks out: she’s standing in the sun as blood flows down her wrist, hoping no one will notice her among the rows of trainees chanting and brandishing bayonets. Thinking back, she’s not sure why she grabbed her weapon the wrong way during that drill. But when she saw that the bayonet on her rifle had sliced cleanly across her hand, she knew calling for help would only invite her drill sergeants to make her life more miserable. “I was just standing out there in the heat of the day and bleeding and trying to be quiet about it,” she recalled later in an interview. Soon, a female drill sergeant came over to berate her for her stupidity—as a lesson to the other trainees—and tossed a few bandages at her. Read entire article

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Make War No More

Written by John Malkin
Good Times Weekly
Wednesday, 16 January 2008

UC Santa Cruz grad Robert Zabala on the war, his conscience and why he just had to get out of the military

It may sound simplistic, but I have often thought that there would be fewer wars if people with guns stopped shooting them. Throughout U.S. history, hundreds of soldiers have connected with their conscience and objected to military service. But history lessons have tended to cast a heroic light on generals and their battles while leaving acts of conscientious objection to war on the cutting room floor.

Robert Zabala enlisted in the U.S. Marines in 2002 but his experiences in boot camp brought up ethical questions and led to a deeper reflection on the interconnectedness of life. He filed a conscientious objector application in 2004 and on March 29, 2007, U.S. District Court Judge James Ware ruled that Zabala was to be granted an honorable discharge and be released from the Marines within 15 days. Zabala, a graduate of the University of California in Santa Cruz, is now 23 years old and a resident of San Jose. Here, he reveals his journey beyond the military.

When you joined the Marines, what was your motivation?

I was 17 years old and I really wanted to show the world that I was made of something tough, raw and real. Also, I come from a huge long line of people who served in the military. My grandfather served in Vietnam. My grandmother taught officers how to speak Tagalog in Monterey. My mother and father both were in the Navy in the Gulf War.

Probably the biggest reason that I wanted to join the Marine Corps was that growing up a child so dependent on the welfare state, I felt that I should pay back this debt to society. I grew up on food stamps and free meals you get in public schools - even my college was paid for by financial aid.

What was that recruitment experience like?

I was the easiest sucker they’ve ever recruited! I walked right into that recruiting station and they told me all the things that I wanted to hear. They said, “You’re a smart guy, and a lot of the leadership skills that you’re going to learn in the Marine Corps, you’re going to be able to translate into the real world and you’ll be a better person.” Man, did I fall for it.

Could you choose what you would be doing in the Marines?

The recruiters say, “Hey, you can do this kind of job – you’ll work strictly with radars.” That’s what I was supposed to be, a wireman. When I got to boot camp it turns out that my recruiter didn’t do that at all. I was going to be a rifleman. And after I graduated from boot camp, when I joined up with my reserve unit in San Bruno, I met up with my first sergeant and he looked me over once and said, “Hey, guess what? You’re going to be a machine gunner now.” It’s that funny little clause in the contract that you sign that says at anytime they can change what you’re doing or where you’re stationed. Read article

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Uncle Sam Wants You, But Ads Target Mom, Dad

Wall Street Journal
November 29, 2007; Page B1

For the Army, it's out with "Be all you can be" and in with "Buy all you can buy."

The Army has been enlisting youths for decades by promising them money for college. Starting in January, it will try out a different sort of pitch in selected cities: offering up to $40,000 toward the purchase of a home or the creation of a business.

The Army's new plan is to win over "influencers" of potential recruits.

The new recruitment program, dubbed the "Army Advantage Fund," is meant to show parents and other adult "influencers" that Army service offers tangible benefits to young Americans. As the Iraq war continues, the Army is struggling to recruit enough new soldiers -- and such influencers are less and less likely to recommend military service to youths.

"If you want to get a soldier, you have to go through mom, and moms want to know what kind of future their children will have when they leave the Army," said Lt. Col. Jeff Sterling, the program's architect. "This is meant to answer that question in a tangible, concrete way." Read article

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Female GIs complain of unequal treatment


Salt Lake Tribune
Friday, November 09, 2007

The soldiers outside her room were drunken and indignant.

"Why won't you date any of us, bitch?" Amanda Blume recalled one of the men demanded before he helped kick in her barracks door.

Inside, Blume remembered, she was surrounded, called names and pushed into a corner. Fearing for her safety, she said, she fought her way free, striking one of the men in the face on the way out.

The next week, Blume's Army commanders in Fort Sill, Okla., charged her with assault.

The exact details of what happened in the barracks on that night last March are known only to Blume and the men she has accused of attacking her. But in punishing the female soldier, Blume's male commanders followed a pattern that advocates of female service members call "epidemic" -- a pattern that nearly repeated itself again to Blume just a few months later.

Honorably discharged in early July, Blume remains proud of her military service, which began the month after she graduated from high school in 2004. As a whole, she said, the experience was positive. But it also was punctuated by moments that were alternately frightening, demeaning and unjust.

The day after Blume was attacked in her room, she was called in to see her commanding officer. "I thought he would help me, but that's not what happened," she said.

The man she'd struck had already been in to file a complaint. Read article

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Soldier and the Student

The Nation
By Aaron Glantz

[posted online on November 27, 2007]

"Join the military and go to college." That's what the recruiters say.

But the deal that today's servicemen and servicewomen get is a far cry from what their fathers and grandfathers got. When President Franklin Roosevelt signed the GI Bill into law in the waning days of World War II, he saw it as part of his New Deal program. The law, officially called the Servicemen's Readjustment Act, promised returning veterans that the government would pay the full cost of tuition and books at any public or private college or job-training program. It also provided unemployment insurance and loans to buy homes and start businesses.

By contrast, the current Montgomery GI Bill, passed in 1984, asks active duty members to accept a pay reduction of $100 per month through twelve months of military service. When they return to school, they receive $1,100 monthly for a maximum of three years of education benefits. It's an amount that doesn't come close to covering the cost of a modern college education, but it does help some veterans--if they can get through the red tape.

In July 2005, 23-year-old Paris Lee was honorably discharged after serving almost three years in the Army. A native of California's rural, picturesque North Coast where the old-growth redwoods grow, he returned home and enrolled in a free ten-week college prep program called Veterans Upward Bound at Humboldt State University. Lee was preparing to attend Humboldt State in the fall, but this past May he received a letter from the Department of Veterans Affairs denying his application for the GI Bill. "They said I'm not eligible because I served thirty-five months and two days in the Army," he told me. "Normally you have to serve thirty-six months to get education benefits, so they're trying to deny me based on twenty-eight days." After the VA rejected Lee's application for GI benefits, he sent an appeal letter to the VA regional office in Muskogee, Oklahoma. While he waits for the response, the Army veteran works dealing cards for blackjack, Pai Gow and Texas hold 'em games at Blue Lake Indian Casino east of Arcata.
Read article

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Life as an American Female Soldier

Marie Claire

Hair falling out, periods on hold, and peeing in a cup: for female soldiers, life on the front lines involves stuff men never have to think about.

By Tara McKelvey

I signed up for the army in June 2001, when I was 17. They were offering to pay for some of my college education. I wasn't concerned about the possibility of going to war; I just kept thinking, This is going to be cool.

Two years later, I was a sophomore at the University of Illinois in Urbana, and I got a phone call from my platoon sergeant, who said, "Your unit has been put on alert." That evening, I went to see The Vagina Monologues at a local theater with friends from my dorm. I didn't say anything about the phone call. On November 11, Veterans Day, I was told I was being deployed. I quit my part-time job at David's Bridal shop and boxed up the clothes in my dorm.

In February, I went to a base in Kuwait, where you had to wait in long lines no matter where you were: in the mess hall, bathroom, shower. You were never alone. At night, I put on headphones and played Norah Jones to block it all out. Read more

Friday, November 2, 2007

Army has Record Low Level of Recruits

Associated Press | November 01, 2007
WASHINGTON - The Army began its recruiting year Oct. 1 with fewer signed up for basic training than in any year since it became an all-volunteer service in 1973, a top general said Wednesday.

Gen. William S. Wallace, whose duties as commander of Army Training and Doctrine Command include management of recruiting, told reporters at the Pentagon that the historic dip will make it harder to achieve the full-year recruiting goal - after just barely reaching it in the year ended Sept. 30.

Achieving the Army's recruiting goals - a challenge in the best of times - is not only more difficult now but also of more consequence. That is because the Army has decided that it must grow its active-duty force by several thousand Soldiers a year in order to relieve strain on war-weary troops.

Wallace said he expects to reach the goal of 80,000 recruits, with extra effort by his recruiters.

"It's going to be another tough recruiting year," the four-star general said.

Making it even tougher is the decline in what the Army calls its delayed entry pool, which is the group of enlistees who have signed contracts to join the Army but want to wait before shipping off to basic training. Normally the Army tries to start its recruiting year with a delayed entry pool equal to about 25 percent of its full-year goal, which in this case would equate to 20,000 recruits. Read more

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Anti-recruiters should have student access

This editorial appeared in the Juneau Empire today
Web posted October 28, 2007

A decision as consequential as joining the military should be made carefully with a sober understanding of what serving our country entails.

That is why the Juneau Empire believes that when military recruiters visit Juneau-Douglas High School, members of Southeast Alaska Truth in Recruiting should be allowed in as well, to represent another point of view.

Recently, National Guard recruiter Sgt. Seth Beebe asked the Juneau School Board to restrict the anti-recruiting group's access to students. He pointed to a brochure distributed by the group that states: "The atmosphere in the military encourages rape, murder and other kinds of violence against civilian women."

Beebe said such brochures make for an uncomfortable atmosphere for recruiters, and this may be arguably true. But to deny access to the anti-recruiting group would be a disservice to the students.

Southeast Alaska Truth in Recruiting, a project of the Juneau chapter of Veterans for Peace, is staffed by veterans - or family members of veterans - who can share with students their own experiences of military life. The group can give students another perspective before making the life-changing decision to join the armed services.

What the anti-recruiters do is set up a table in the school's commons every time a recruiter visits, which is three times a year as allowed by the Juneau School Distinct. Members hand out literature and talk to the occasional student who stops by the table. The group isn't aggressively vying for the attention of the students or actively protesting the recruiters' presence on campus.

But some of the literature the group passes out is questionable, and actually serves to hurt the group's credibility.

The brochure Beebe singled out was addressed to young women and is full of inflammatory statements and strained logic. In one section, the flier implies that the U.S. military uses rape as a weapon, then cites United Nations figures on rape in the Congo.

Amy Paige, who heads Southeast Alaska Truth in Recruiting, acknowledges that the brochure was a misstep. The group receives its materials from outside organizations, such as the American Friends Service Committee, the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors and the War Resisters League. Paige said perhaps the controversial flier wasn't as fully vetted by her committee as it should have been.

The group has since pulled the flier. Paige said she'd like her group to address women's issues in a future pamphlet that's not perceived as a direct attack on the military. She pointed out that her group is made up of veterans or family members of veterans who "are not ready to smear the whole military."

Some in Paige's group believe recruiters shouldn't be in the schools at all. Nevertheless, the military offers future educational opportunities in the form of scholarships and vocational training. Students have every right to this information.

We support allowing recruiters on campus, but there needs to be a check against unscrupulous recruitment. Undoubtedly, our local recruiters are upfront with students about the pros and cons of military service. Nevertheless, our military is stretched thin - fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - and the pressure on recruiters to keep the ranks full is undeniable.

Both sides need to be presented to students, but Southeast Alaska Truth in Recruiting needs to realize incendiary smears against the military hurt the group's credibility when it claims to "offer balanced information." The group needs to stick to sharing its veterans' military experiences with students and providing information on actual scholarship rates and terms of enlistment.

It's clear both sides don't want the other talking to students, but ultimately the students need to make a choice on whether to serve or not. As long as there's a fair debate, we trust the students will make the right personal decision.

Letter to the Editor: Women face risks if they join military

Web posted October 28, 2007

Whether the National Guard recruiters like it or not, young women and their parents should know that thousands of American women in uniform are being raped by their fellow soldiers. In 2005, the Veterans Administration released a 2001 study on the National Guard and Reserves. It found that 60 percent of women Reservists and National Guard had experienced some kind of sexual trauma (Washington Post on Sept. 30, 2005).

Sexual assault is so pervasive that the VA has a name for it - Military Sexual Trauma. Female soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of military sexual trauma were on the "NOW with David Brancaccio" program on Sept. 7 ( Women are dying, losing legs and arms, and suffering brain injuries in Iraq. It's a terrible injustice that they have to watch their backs with their own countrymen.

Personal stories of military women in Iraq are in "The private war of female soldiers" by Helen Benedict (, on March 7). One story tells of three female soldiers who died of dehydration because they refused to drink liquids late in the day. They were afraid of being raped by male soldiers if they walked to the latrines after dark. That story is in the brochure distributed at the high school.

Women report that if the commanding officer has a zero-tolerance for sexual abuse, it doesn't happen. Unlike civilians, soldiers can't choose where they work and they can't quit.

Speaking the truth isn't being against the troops. The troops include women. Juneau School Board member Margo Waring was doing her job. (Waring said in a recent meeting that military recruitment is limited to three days at Juneau-Douglas High School because it does not serve the Juneau School District's education mission. She also said the war is seen as controversial.)

Young women need this information to make an informed decision. They must weigh the benefits against the risks.

Barbara Belknap


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Recruiter's Dream

Editorial * Chicago Tribune * October 14, 2007

The immigration debate tends to be dominated by the hard-liners on either side. There are a lot of folks, though, who have some ambivalence about the whole thing. They don't condone breaking the law, but they recognize that illegal immigrants came here for an honest purpose: to provide for their families.

That makes things especially thorny when you're dealing with the children of those immigrants. Oftentimes they're kids who were brought here as toddlers and know only one land: the U.S.

Those kids are the target of the proposed The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (for short, the Dream Act). It would give those youngsters six years of conditional legal residency in which to attend college. If they earned a two-year degree or finished two years toward a bachelor's degree, they would be eligible for a green card, allowing them to live and work here legally and to apply for citizenship.
Read entire editorial

Monday, October 1, 2007

America's Army recruiting game coming to arcades

Project YANO members have been looking at information on the new Army branded coin-op arcade game. Below is a press release from the company that is marketing it, followed by a review and photo of the machine. Note the phrasing used: The partnership will "create a new communication channel with young Americans," and the America's Army game has "penetrated culture."

I know some of you will feel sick reading about this, but it's important for us to be fully aware of such things and to educate the larger peace movement about the consequences of not confronting the Pentagon's "penetration" of our culture via schools and the mass marketing of militarism. While most people are focusing on guarding the front door, the burglar is coming in the back.

Perhaps some of you can formulate ideas for dealing with this latest development.

Rick Jahnkow (

SAN JOSE, Calif – (July 19, 2007) – GLOBAL VR today announced that it plans to unveil the latest addition to the company's 2007 line-up of exciting titles, AMERICA'S ARMY . The AMERICA'S ARMY coin-operated game is based on the extremely popular AMERICA'S ARMY game brand which is developed by the U.S. Army and includes PC, console and cell phone games, and other branded properties. The “green label”, coin-operated AMERICA'S ARMY game is the result of a unique partnership between the U.S. Army and GLOBAL VR. The partnership which encompasses the development and manufacturing of an official U.S. Army game for the arcade market, will create a new communication channel with young Americans.
Working hand-in-hand with U.S. Army Subject Matter Experts and with the full cooperation of units of the U.S. Army, the coin-operated AMERICA'S ARMY is a realistic and engaging game centered on exciting training exercises, and includes a significant amount of authentic Army videos and other information designed to immerse the player in the Army culture.

“AMERICA'S ARMY is an arcade style training game based on actual Army training exercises designed to challenge Soldiers to hone their skills. Players are rewarded for teamwork, proper use of the Rules of Engagement, accuracy, and target identification,” says Mike Kruse, GLOBAL VR Producer. “The game's many marksmanship exercises are entirely target shooting challenges which makes this unique product appropriate for many location types that do not desire simulated combat games.” Mike went on to comment, “Being a veteran myself, I can honestly report that AMERICA'S ARMY is a highly authentic depiction of Army training exercises and the Army's unique organizational culture…down to the drill sergeant who is constantly by your side to bring out the best performance from each player.”

AMERICA'S ARMY is designed for one or two players and consists of a series of eight training mini-games. Each game is designed with a dynamic difficulty system making the game easy for new recruits and more difficult for experienced players. Bonuses are also important as they reward players with extra experiences and point rewards for jobs well done. Leader boards for each mini-game add fuel to the competition, and give players incentives to beat the top score.

We are so proud to be working directly with the U.S. Army on this project,” stated Jim DeRose GLOBAL VR President and CEO. “To have earned the Army's confidence throughout the game's development and delivered a coin-op game that fits the market needs of most video equipment operators is a huge accomplishment.

We are convinced that the cabinet's small footprint, outstanding graphics, “green label” rating, and value pricing will make the game a natural for all locations.”
For information about other GLOBAL VR products, please visit _ or contact your local GLOBAL VR distributor or sales representative.

About the America 's Army Brand
Launched in July 2002, the America's Army game has become one of the most popular computer games in the world. America's Army has penetrated popular culture and is one of the most recognizable game brands as a result of its unique inside perspective on the U.S. Army and exciting gameplay. As the game's popularity continues to grow with each new release, the Army has expanded the brand through a variety of products to include console and wireless games, America's Army merchandise such as t-shirts and action figures, as well as training applications for use within the military and government sectors. The America 's Army game for the PC can be found online at

About GLOBAL VR: Founded in 1998 and headquartered in San Jose , California , GLOBAL VR® is one of the world's leading manufacturers of coin-operated video games based on home gaming technology. Through the development of proprietary technology, GLOBAL VR is able to leverage the massive investment in development of PC and console games by third party developers by making them suitable for play in out-of-home locations. Development agreements are in place with some of the world's leading game publishers including Electronic Arts (NASDAQ: ERTS ), Ubisoft, and Atari (NASDAQ:ATAR). These agreements provide GLOBAL VR rights to create coin-op versions of popular home games such as EA SPORTS™ PGA
TOUR® GOLF , Underground, NASCAR, Blazing Angels, Beach Head and Operation Blockade. In addition, GLOBAL VR also develops and manufactures products previously marketed under the UltraCade label including Global Arcade Classics and Ultrapin. More information on GLOBAL VR can be found at _ ( .

America's Army recruiting game coming to arcades The US Army has developed a stand-up arcade version of its video-game "America's Army" and it will seed it in arcades around the country. This is straight out of a science fiction novel, but what would be even more skiffy is if they were to put these in arcades outside of the US. I'm surprised they're charging to play these games -- the natural thing would be to make these the only free games in the arcade, so the poorest and most desperate kids would dominate them, absorbing messages about signing up for Der Surge.

The “green label”, coin-operated AMERICA’S ARMY game is the result of a unique partnership between the U.S. Army and GLOBAL VR. The partnership which encompasses the development and manufacturing of an official U.S. Army game for the arcade market, will create a new communication channel with young Americans.

Working hand-in-hand with U.S. Army Subject Matter Experts and with the full cooperation of units of the U.S. Army, the coin-operated AMERICA’S ARMY is a realistic and engaging game centered on exciting training exercises, and includes a significant amount of authentic Army videos and other information designed to immerse the player in the Army culture.

_Link_ (
(via _Gizmodo_ ( )

Immigration and Military Enlistment: Pentagon's Push for the DREAM Act Heats Up

Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft Articles from Draft NOtices, July — September 2007
By Jorge Mariscal

"The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM, provision in the immigration bill is expected to help boost military recruiting.” — Bill Carr, Acting Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Military Personnel Policy.-Full Article

"I've been here almost eight years. I feel like I belong to this country," he said. "People like me, we want to serve the country. We love this country. We don't have papers. We can't afford to go to college. The military is the perfect option for us.” − Sebasti├ín, undocumented student from Mexico

In early June, a two-pronged media cycle dealing with the issue of non-citizen soldiers and military recruitment slowly began to materialize. Following on the heels of an internal Pentagon study that reported a general decrease in interest in military service among young Americans, the debate about the role of non-citizens in the U.S. military intensified.

In the Washington Post, reporter Brigid Schulte filed a feature story titled, “Why Won't We Let Them Fill the Ranks?”, in which she described the willingness of many undocumented youth to enlist. Schulte’s piece is filled with enthusiastic comments from undocumented youth who are eager to sign up.

At one point, she depicts a group of undocumented workers cheering as the invasion of Iraq begins, apparently because the war would afford them the opportunity to enlist.

As immigration reform failed to move forward in Congress, Pentagon spokesmen made public statements about their hope that at least the DREAM Act part of the legislation would pass. In an article published by the American Forces Press Service, Acting Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Carr stated, “Talk is already taking place to see if at least the DREAM provision of the stalled bill can proceed." Full article

Thursday, August 23, 2007

New school year starts in Juneau

New and returning Juneau students may wish to take advantage of the narrow window of opportunity to submit their request to withhold release of their name, address and phone number to military recruiters. The school district is required to provide military recruiters with the personal contact information of all secondary students unless the student or parent says no. It is also required to inform you and your parents of your right to keep that information from military recruiters or others. You should have received notice about your privacy rights before school opened. Students - even those under age 18 - as well as parents can sign such a request. If you missed that information in your back-to-school packet, you can find the form designed for student signature [#8330F(b)] here. Or the form designed for parent signature [8330F(a)] here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Making of an American Soldier: Why Young People Join the Military

By Jorge Mariscal, Sojourners.

Posted June 26, 2007.

George Bush likes to say it's because they're patriots, but the truth may have more to do with financial need and recruiters targeting those with limited economic options.

In today's political climate, with two wars being fought with no end in sight, it can be difficult for some people to understand why young folks enlist in our military.

The conservative claim that most youth enlist due to patriotism and the desire to "serve one's country" is misleading. The Pentagon's own surveys show that something vague and abstract called "duty to country" motivates only a portion of enlistees.

The vast majority of young people wind up in the military for different reasons, ranging from economic pressure to the desire to escape a dead-end situation at home to the promise of citizenship.

Over all, disenfranchisement may be one of the most accurate words for why some youth enlist.

Read more

Friday, June 22, 2007

Documentary: Law gives military access to student data

WASHINGTON — It began as a class assignment for Alexia Welch and Sarah Ybarra: Make a five-minute video news story about advertising in public schools.

But the Lawrence, Kan., teenagers' project snowballed into a 25-minute documentary on how the federal No Child Left Behind law to improve education promotes military recruitment, infringes on students' privacy and encourages school officials to look the other way.

The movie's fans include a Democratic California congressman who's been trying to change the law for two years and award-winning liberal filmmaker Robert Greenwald, who viewed some early rushes and offered the pair his lawyer's services, just in case.

Their film, "No Child Left Unrecruited," premiered in April at an arts center in Lawrence, the home of the University of Kansas. A short trailer on YouTube has gotten 630 hits in the past month, and the film made its Washington debut Tuesday.

"We found out this wasn't a school assignment anymore," said 17-year-old Ybarra, who'll be a senior next fall at Lawrence High School. "This was going to go beyond the walls of the district."

Read more

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Seattle Students Shut Down School Board Demanding Military Recruiters Out of Schools

By Philip Locker, Dylan Simpson, and Marianne Mork
June 21, 2007

“What do we want? Recruiters out! When do we want it? Now!” chanted over 70 antiwar protestors as we marched into to the Seattle School Board meeting Wednesday night. The spirited protest, called by Youth Against War and Racism (YAWR), demanded the school board finally take real action against military recruitment in our schools. As the local TV news King 5 said, it was “intended to be political high theatre, and it certainly was effective.” Another reporter commented: “it was the most dramatic anti-military recruitment rally to date.”

YAWR is calling for military recruiters to be banned from Seattle public schools. But to stay within the legal paramaters of the “No Child Left Behind” law, we are demanding that all recruiting be done at a district-wide recruitment fair once a semester. This would create equity between the access to students that the military, college, and job recruiters have. Currently, military recruiters have a massive budget and a huge advantage over college and job recruiters. A district-wide recruitment fair would also stop military recruiters from carrying out their predatory tactics within our schools and disproportionate targeting of schools that are predominantly made up of poor and minority students.

Read more

Links to Mainstream Media Coverage
KOMO 4 Video coverage: (click WATCH THE STORY below the picture)

King 5 Video coverage:

Seattle Times:

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

NCLB and the Military: A California teacher union passes antirecruitment resolution

ZNet, by Gregory Sotir of Rethinking Schools June 3, 2007
The British navy used to use trapdoors in barrooms to capture recruits to maintain its colonial empire. The U.S. military doesn't need these tricks. It has No Child Left Behind.

Section 9528, the 300 or so words buried within the act's 670 pages, cement militarism in public schools. This section's provisions funnel private student data such as telephone numbers and home addresses into the Pentagon for military recruitment purposes and also mandate access for military recruiters to students in public secondary schools.

As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have dragged on, recruiters have become increasingly aggressive on campus. Data from student information provided via Section 9528 are used for recruiter home visits and repetitive phone calls to students. Military recruiters also use high-pressure sales techniques, flashy videos, and eye-candy trinkets, and bring he-man danger mobiles such as Hummers and helicopters onto school grounds to attract students, especially young males. At the beginning of this school year, the Los Angeles-based Coalition Against Militarism In Our Schools (CAMS), a group that I work with, decided to get the word out about Section 9528.
Read article

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Fewer high-quality Army recruits

As war needs rise, exam scores drop

WASHINGTON -- The percentage of high-quality recruits entering the Army is the lowest in 10 years, an indication that the force is struggling to attract top-grade enlistees -- and a troubling sign for the Pentagon, which is waging wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and plans to add 90,000 ground troops to its ranks within the next five years.

Over the past decade, the percentage of top-level recruits who enlisted in the Army was mostly consistent, dipping slightly at the end of the 1990s before spiking in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But since 2003 -- the same year the US invaded Iraq -- the Army has steadily taken in more recruits that the force itself considers "non-high quality."

Last year, nearly 40 percent of those who joined the Army had below-average verbal and math scores on the Armed Forces Qualification Test, a mandatory exam that helps the military determine a recruit's aptitude and mental proficiency. In 2003, the Army accepted only 28.9 percent of the low-scoring recruits, but that percentage gradually began to rise in subsequent years, according to Army statistics.

Read article

Thursday, May 17, 2007

“Know All You Can Know” Before You Enlist!

What are we telling young people? You wouldn’t buy a car without taking a look at its record for reliability and safety. If you are considering military service, it is important to understand what you are signing up for. The military is a job you cannot quit. Joining the military is a serious decision, and we urge people making choices about the next stage of their lives to be informed and careful.

Who are we to criticize the military? We believe that if the military is a volunteer force, everyone who joins should be a true volunteer. No one should join the military without deciding that he or she is willing to kill and die in a war. SEATIR encourages people thinking about joining the military to research, ask questions, take time and know all they can know before making a decision to enlist.

Where do we get our information? Our sources include, among others, the U.S. Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs and newspapers such as the Army Times, as well as academic studies. The information is gathered by organizations including the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Veterans for Peace, the War Resisters League and the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (CCCO). This year, the CCCO estimates it has received about 10,000 calls from personnel who want to get out of the military.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Women’s War

From The New York Times

Katy Grannan for The New York Times;

Suzanne Swift Just before she was to leave for her second tour in Iraq, she told her mother: "I can't do this. I can't go back there."

Published: March 18, 2007

Editors' Note Appended

On the morning of Monday, Jan. 9, 2006, a 21-year-old Army specialist named Suzanne Swift went AWOL. Her unit, the 54th Military Police Company, out of Fort Lewis, Wash., was two days away from leaving for Iraq. Swift and her platoon had been home less than a year, having completed one 12-month tour of duty in February 2005, and now the rumor was that they were headed to Baghdad to run a detention center. The footlockers were packed. The company's 130 soldiers had been granted a weekend leave in order to go where they needed to go, to say whatever goodbyes needed saying. When they reassembled at 7 a.m. that Monday, uniformed and standing in immaculate rows, Specialist Swift, who during the first deployment drove a Humvee on combat patrols near Karbala, was not among them.

Swift would later say that she had every intention of going back to Iraq. But in the weeks leading up to the departure date, she started to feel increasingly anxious. She was irritable, had trouble sleeping at night, picked fights with friends, drank heavily. ''I was having a lot of little freakouts,'' she told me when I went to visit her in Washington State last summer. ''But I was also ready to go. I was like, 'O.K., I can do this.''' Read article

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The private war of women soldiers

Many female soldiers say they are sexually assaulted by their male comrades and can't trust the military to protect them. "The knife wasn't for the Iraqis," says one woman. "It was for the guys on my own side."

Editor's note: This story has been corrected since it was originally published.

By Helen Benedict

story image

March 7, 2007 | As thousands of burned-out soldiers prepare to return to Iraq to fill President Bush's unwelcome call for at least 20,000 more troops, I can't help wondering what the women among those troops will have to face. And I don't mean only the hardships of war, the killing of civilians, the bombs and mortars, the heat and sleeplessness and fear.

I mean from their own comrades -- the men.

I have talked to more than 20 female veterans of the Iraq war in the past few months, interviewing them for up to 10 hours each for a book I am writing on the topic, and every one of them said the danger of rape by other soldiers is so widely recognized in Iraq that their officers routinely told them not to go to the latrines or showers without another woman for protection.

The female soldiers who were at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait, for example, where U.S. troops go to demobilize, told me they were warned not to go out at night alone. Read article