Concerned about military recruiters in and around NYC high schools and the lack of information to counter this military outreach, the Granny Peace Brigade and supporting volunteers have been addressing this issue since 2007.
March 26, 2015, Parent Teacher Conference night, volunteers were at 10 high schools providing non-military informational flyers to parents and students. Times have changed and for many families the military is no longer an option for their child. They are not aware of the many non-military options available or where to seek out assistance. As there is a shortage of high school career guidance counselors, this information is most valuable to parents and appreciated by students as well.
Our flyers provide non-military options including educational programs, community and college information and websites, job and skill training programs, financial aid/scholarships, or community service programs. A second flyer clarifies military service procedures and provides answers needed to better understand the truth of military recruitment and promises made.
At a Staten Island HS, guidance counselors took flyers. One scanned the material, smiled, and said,” Oh, its anti-military, it made my day.” At another, the volunteer approached a student in a JROTC uniform. He told her he got the flyers last year. “Your group made some good points.” At another school, teachers who arrived early took flyers and noted their importance in classroom discussion. At a Manhattan HS, the principal approached the volunteer to read the material and understand the action. She was interested and after the conversation took 10 sets of flyers to give to the guidance counselors.
At a Brooklyn HS with a large JROTC program, a father stopped to say that no way his children were joining the military. Another volunteer reported that a woman came up to him and said we were doing a good job. That made his day. It’s not always positive as a volunteer at a Manhattan HS experienced. Two parents disagreed briefly and emphatically. One gave back the flyers saying she was a navy mom. A father, also returning the flyers said, “Who will defend us?” None of the students we spoke with were planning to join the military. The parents did not consider other options, but the students did.
Feedback from parents is warm and sincere. They appreciate that someone takes the time to stand outside the school and cares enough about their child’s future to provide information, support, and assistance to reach her/his goals. As rewarding as this is for the parents, it’s truly a rewarding experience for volunteers. We walk away with the feeling of new possibilities, student opportunity, and justice served.
Join us in the fall when we will again be at high schools for another Parent Teacher Conference night action. To learn more or download the flyers, visit http://www.grannypeacebrigade.org, go to the Counter-Recruitment page, and scan though the information, documents to download, and links to other organizations.
Many thanks to all the volunteers – in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.
Students not Soldiers
– Barbara Harris
for the Granny Peace Brigade