The Pentagon budget for military recruitment is more than $4 billion/ year. You see the military outreach everywhere – movies, toys, ads, video gaming, clothing, recruitment career centers, and recruiters at high schools and around the neighborhood.
To counter military recruiting, on Thursday, March 17th, 38 volunteers, with a very small budget but lots of commitment, showed up at 14 high schools in NYC to distribute informational flyers to parents and students. The handouts address truth in military recruiting and non- military alternatives for life choices after high school.
Parents on their way to a meeting with their child’s teacher stop for a minute or so to hear about the ‘Options’, to find out about financial aid, scholarships and job and college websites. They thank volunteers for providing information they need, the support given, and thumbs up on learning more about opportunities available for their kids.
Outside a school, a group of 5 girls are talking. One of the girls with a guitar tells me she plans to enlist. I ask, ‘Why, what are you looking for?’ ‘Got information on music?’ she replies. Together, we look at the Options flyer and see a website for creative arts. ‘Check it out.’ Now she’s interested and takes the flyer. The other girls ask for the sheet too.
The Questions to Ask and Points to Consider Before You Enlist flyer provides responses to questions families have concerning promises and benefits of service often made to potential enlistees. Recruiters are salespeople and youth are their customers. This information rings true with parents and students.
‘Not going into the Army, no way. –I need this information for him.’ Volunteers note that most families are opposed to having their children serve in the military.
One teacher rushes by – no time to talk, but another teacher stops, ‘Wow – good stuff. I’ll talk to my class about this.’
Volunteers mention the rewards of the action – a moment of shared support, offering useful and positive information to families, and, perhaps, a change in direction for a student.
Volunteering for peace – Ending war one student at a time.
– Barbara Harris
for the Granny Peace Brigade
Photos: Eva-Lee Baird