Quantcast

Questions to Ask Military Recruiters and Yourself

Have you, a friend, or a family member ever wondered if the military was the best option for a job or career? If so, ask yourself the questions below. Then consider which ones you might like to ask a recruiter. This may help you make your decision about whether or not you wish to join the military, or it may aid you in helping others decide intelligently.

  1. Young people recruited at this time will most likely be called to participate in a war that was brought into being with lies about possession of weapons of mass destruction, lies about the purchase of yellowcake uranium ore from Niger, lies about the purchase of aluminum tubes for uranium‐235 enrichment for making nuclear weapons, lies about al‐Qaida involvement with Iraq, and more.Why should our young people risk their lives in a war brought about through the use of lies? (See Google: “Lies and the Iraq War.”)
  2. How can sending troops off to kill or to die to acquire access to the resources of others be an honorable endeavor?
  3. How does the military justify dropping bombs on civilian targets, defying international law and killing innocent civilians?
  4. Many more than 20 centuries of war have failed to produce peace. If peace is our goal, isn’t it time to develop a better way to pursue it than war?
  5. With respect to today’s political trouble spots, particularly in the Middle East, where is the evidence that decades of ongoing retaliation have brought about any lasting peace?
  6. Will the military permit me to follow my conscience when it conflicts with military objectives?
  7. If the military allows its members to follow their consciences, how do service personnel refuse to follow wrongful orders without risking life and limb?
  8. Does the humiliating process of boot camp create self‐discipline or simply a readiness to follow orders blindly?
  9. The military systematically dehumanizes the “enemy” in order to make its members more able and more likely to kill that “enemy.” Doesn’t this process and its application in war dehumanize the individual as well? (On posttraumatic stress disorder—PTSD—see http://​www​.ncptsd​.va​.gov/​t​o​p​ics /war.html.)
  10. If the cost of furthering my education is my primary reason for entering the military, wouldn’t I be better off saving years of time and avoiding risking my personal safety by getting financial aid information from a high school guidance counselor, a community college admissions or financial aid officer, or just getting started on my own at http://​www​.collegeispossible​.org?
  11. If I wish to get a job such as being a carpenter, plumber or electrician, wouldn’t I be best advised to look for an apprenticeship program with a local union? (To start my search, I can just ask around or begin my search at http://​www​.njatc​.org /search.aspx.)
  12. When Dick Cheney was Secretary of Defense, he said: “The reason to have a military is to fight and win wars. The military is not a social welfare agency. It’s not a jobs program.” Isn’t it true that most job training in the military has little carryover into civilian occupations?
  13. Under the Montgomery GI Bill, military recruits pay $1,200 toward their future education during their first year of service. Of the veterans paying into the program, 29 percent become ineligible to receive any benefits due to early or less than honorable discharge, etc. They also lose their $1,200. Of the remaining veterans who qualify for benefits, only 65 percent receive any, and the average payment given out was $2,151. Does that seem an amount that would carry anyone through many years of higher education? (See http://​www​.peaceworkmagazine​.org /pwork /0506/050607.htm, pages 1 and 2.)
  14. What is the percentage of those on active duty in the military who are severely wounded? What percentage of these can stay in the military? What will happen to me if my service‐related disability is such that the military no longer wants my service?
  15. If I am dismissed from service due to a duty‐related disability, will I be entitled to veteran’s benefits adequate to sustain a fulfilling life for me and my family? (See DOD—Veterans with service connected disabilities; 2006 figures range from monthly payments of $112 for a 10 percent disability to $2,393 for 100 percent disability.)
  16. What is the percentage of active‐duty members who are killed during their tours of duty?
  17. In the event of my death, what will my country do for me and for my family? (See DOD Death Benefits.)
  18. What difficulties do people in the military face when reintegrating into civilian life? (See What Every Person Should Know About War by Chris Hedges—all of Chapter 9: “After the War.”)
  19. Why is family violence more prevalent in military than nonmilitary families? (See What Every Person Should Know About War by Chris Hedges—page 20 cites an Army survey of 55,000 soldiers where domestic violence occurred at “twice the rate found in similar groups of civilians.”)
  20. Why is it necessary for the families of some enlisted personnel to use food stamps to make ends meet? (See http:usmilitary.about.com/cs/moneymatters/a/foodstamps.htm.)
  21. Why do the majority of veterans frequently earn less than their similar non‐veteran counterparts? (See http://​www​.krueger​.princeton​.edu /11_11_2004.htm.)
  22. Why are approximately one‐third of this country’s homeless people veterans? (See U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, “Overview of Homelessness,” http://​www​.va​.gov.)
  23. How do you feel about our military using torture? (See Google: “Torture by United States Forces”; “Truth, Torture, and the American Way: The History and Consequences of U.S. Involvement in Torture” by Jennifer K. Harbury, 2005; and “America’s Amnesia” by Matthew Rothschild—The Progressive, July 2004.)
  24. Do you think our country’s torturing others makes it more or less likely that U.S. service personnel will be tortured if captured?
  25. Do you think information obtained by torture is reliable?
  26. The Military Commissions Act of 2006 states that “the President has the authority for the United States to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions.” If captured, would you like your captors to have the same power?
  27. Are there ways to travel and see the world that are safer and more conducive to personal growth than those offered by the military? (If the recruiter says no, ask how being in, or in the proximity of, battle is safer than civilian pursuits.)
  28. Recently the Army has raised the age limit for enlistment from 34 to 42, increased its proportion of high school dropouts from 10 to 19 percent, and raised its cap on recruits with substandard aptitude tests from 2 to 4 percent. How do you feel about these changes? (See Mother Jones magazine, January/February 2007.)
  29. Our military discriminates against gay people. Shouldn’t a person, interested in being a good citizen, avoid association with any groups—like the military—that discriminate against any minorities?
  30. Minorities represent about 32 percent of enlisted personnel. Why are only about 18 percent of officers minorities? (See: DOD, Population Representation in the Military Services, 2002.)
  31. Did you volunteer for this recruiting assignment? Do you find it personally rewarding and uplifting?
  32. Would you want your own child to be in the front lines in combat?
  33. Can I be guaranteed the specific type of training or assignment I will get in the military and that it will not vary from that at the military’s convenience? If so, can I be assured in writing of legal recourse if the promise is not fulfilled? (See We Won’t Go: The Truth on Military Recruiters & the Draft—A Guide to Resistance, p. 34: “The enlistment contract says that the military is not obligated to keep any promise it has made to you.”)
  34. Have you ever told lies in your recruiting efforts? Is it possible that I will find out you have lied to me? (While considering the validity of a recruiter’s responses, you may wish to do a Google search on “military recruiters lie”—include quotation marks—which has over 1,500 entries.)
  35. Why did military recruiters need a one‐day stand‐down on May 20, 2005, to take a class on not using lies and distortions? Is it realistic to expect recruiters to acquire good ethical standards in just one day?
  36. Do you think people who want to talk with students about peaceful, rather than violent, approaches to international conflicts should have the same access to students as military recruiters do? If not, why not?

Don Lathrop is a longtime attender of Old Chatham (N.Y.) Meeting.

Posted in: Features

, , , ,

Sign up for Friends Journal's weekly e-newsletter. Quaker stories, inspiration, and news emailed every Monday. Web comments may be used in the Forum column of the print magazine and may be edited for length and clarity.