[SPORK] Loving The Troops

kelley kelley@interpactinc.com
Thu, 20 Mar 2003 12:28:17 -0500


At 09:03 AM 3/20/03 -0600, Jeff Bone wrote:

>>I would understand if this was about kids pressed into service, threatened
>>with jail or worse. These people signed up for kill and being killed
>>(little danger, in this campaign, things are bound to become more
>>difficult as the empire expands) voluntary.
>>
>>I must admit my love for the troops is very, very limited.
>
>Let's do a little bit of reality calibration, here:  most of "the troops" 
>are kids from relatively poor families who signed up because it was their 
>ticket to going to college / getting started in life / traveling abroad 
>and seeing the world, something they couldn't have afforded 
>otherwise.  Most of them probably - naively, perhaps - never expected to 
>fire a live round or have one fired at them in a conflict situation.


they start recruiting them in high school, at the age of fourteen. they can 
sign up with parental permission, though it's non-binding, before they are 
eighteen. in poor schools, there's an ROTC for a lot of them. They were 
their ROTC uniforms every wednesday and have drills on the sportsfields.

it's a federal law that the schools must share name, address, and home 
phone with recruiters. you can opt out, though, and remove your kids' names 
from their roster.

i've talked with a few kids who get sucked in by these recruiters. they 
make them all kinds of promises--of course, because they have a quota to 
fill. most of these kids are straight shooters. they're ambitious. they 
don't want to live the lives they are living. they want something more out 
of life.

as jeff points out, the service is billed as an answer. it is particularly 
attractive to kids who hate school and don't feel successful at it for 
whatever reason: boredom, crappy teachers, persistently told they are 
stupid and incapable, etc. so, even if it's conceivable to go on to 
community college while working a full-time job, they're not too sure they 
want yet more schooling. and who can blame them? schools are pretty crappy, 
especially _their_ schools which often get a fraction of the funding rec'd 
by schools in well-to-do school districts==where you hardly ever see 
recruiters.

the recuiters sell them a bill of goods about how they'll travel and see 
the world, about how they'll get training for a good job, about how they'll 
get bennies for college, etc. recruiters don't talk about killing. they 
don't talk about weapons. they don't talk about dying. they talk about 
seeing europe or asia, exotic islands, getting stationed in hawaii. and so 
forth.

it is truly absurd to think these kids are signing up to kill and be 
killed. it doesn't much cross their mind in the beginning, thanks to the 
concerted efforts of the recruiters and, of course, human nature: kids 
don't think about the potential for dying when they do some seriously 
stupid and dangerous things like driving drunk or downing a fifth in 
fifteen minutes, chug-a-lug!

kelley