On October 3rd Peace Action Staten Island at a festive event made reference to four of its members, mentioning their activities in promotion of peace – Hesham El-Meligy (Community Activist), Thomas Good (Editor of ‘Next Left Notes’ and photojournalist), Sylvia Zaage (Peace Action Membership Coordinator), and me, Barbara Walker (Granny Peace Brigade). I had an opportunity to say the following about the problem of our high schools as a focus for military recruitment:
We are extremely concerned about the military recruitment activities in our high schools — especially knowing the horror of the on-going unwarranted wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan. There is of course warfare, with heroics, of the Hollywood movies (two exceptions being the realism of “Saving Private Ryan” and “The Hurt Locker”). But the military mother of a marine serving in Afghanistan wrote this — “The most dangerous enemy in the form of roadside bombs can neither be engaged nor defeated.” In these wars our young military are mainly cannon fodder. Young people usually look at me blankly when I say this and so I explain — earlier definition: soldiers subject to the risk of being wounded or killed by artillery; now there are so many more means of being wounded or killed. These days non-military, well paid contractors often hold down the less deadly categories of jobs. As of May 2009, 54 per cent of our military killed were younger than 25 years old. A very fit looking army veteran said to me one day when we were protesting Junior ROTC – he said “I agree.” I thought he agreed with the JROTC Prgram but he did not. He said high schoolers should not be a focus for military recruitment.
I am certainly aware of the current shrinkage in job opportunities and so are the recruiters. But there are options other than military enlistment for life after high school, such as community service, for example, AMERICORPS; there are scholarships for training.
Please be certain that Opt Out Forms are turned in each year to the principal’s office to block the school’s provision of the student’s contact information to military recruitment offices, as is otherwise required under the “No Child Left Behind Act.”
Of course the military spends billions of dollars and has many means of achieving its recruitment goals — so your savvy is required.
– Barbara Walker
for the Granny Peace Brigade