Tis the season for military recruiting. Huge numbers of teenagers will be graduating from high school in just a few months, and those who aren’t going to college are especially busy trying to figure out what they’re going to do with themselves.
US military recruiters try to take advantage of their uncertainty, and their fear about the future. Given privileged access to high school students, the recruiters sweep into classrooms and school auditoriums, making big promises about the supposed adventure of military life, minimizing the downsides of a life lived under orders from surrogate parents, violence, lifelong injury and death.
Don’t worry, the recruiters say. If anything bad happens to you, the military will be there to take care of you, and your family. We take care of our own, they say.
Today, we’ve learned that these promises are lies. The Associated Press reports that the Army has been pressuring active duty soldiers to donate their hard-earned money to something called Army Emergency Relief. Army Emergency Relief is a charity controlled by the Army that’s supposed to help soldiers returning from war.
What’s really happened is that Army Emergency Relief has taken soldiers’ money and hoarded it, using only a small fraction of the money to help soldiers trying to return to civilian life. While huge numbers of soldiers are having to try to make ends meet in a rotten economy in which jobs are scarce, Army Emergency Relief has been denying soldiers the kind of assistance they’ve been promised, even though it has plenty of money to spend.
I can understand that graduating high school seniors have good reason to fear that they won’t be able to support themselves in this economy, but that’s no reason for them to throw themselves into the clutches of a system designed to cheat them of their money, if not their lives. Those military recruiters will lie to you, promising the world, but they send inexperienced young Americans off into harm’s way on unnecessary missions. Then, when those young Americans been shot up or shellshocked so that they’re not of use to the military anymore, they’re kicked to the curb.
There are better options. Get a roommate. Stay with your parents for an extra six months if you have to. Just please don’t fall for the lies of a military recruiter who’s rewarded for bringing in as many suckers as he can. Don’t let the premature last chapter of your young life be: He was lied to.