Friday, September 23, 2005

On the 12th day of opt out- I said NO!

TODAY! Join UFPJ in Washington, DC or
Get out in the streets of your town on Sept. 24
and make your voice heard-
End the war in Iraq,
Take care of folks in our communities,
Get recruiters out of our schools, and
Bring the troops home NOW!

-Stop by the counter recruiting tent in DC this weekend, meet NNOMY members, and find out how you can join NNOMY in opposing militarization of youth!

On the 12th day of opt out a recruiter said to me...

When asked if he told his potential recruits about the harmful effects of depleted uranium-"That's your job-not mine."

Joining the Military can be hazardous to ..... Mental and Physical Health Risks from exposure to depleted uranuim weapons, toxic materials, dangerous vaccines

The Cost of War: Depleted Uranium

As we now deal with the reality of war in Iraq, depleted uranium (DU) is becoming a greater concern for many people, especially those with friends and family serving in Iraq. The U.S. government doesn’t often discuss DU, but when it does, it describes it is an “efficient” part of military arsenal and tries to reassure the public that DU poses little danger.
What are the facts?
-DU is a by-product of the processes used to convert natural uranium for use as nuclear fuel or weapons. DU has 60% the radioactivity of ordinary uranium and a half life in the billions of years.
-The U.S. military (and other armed forces, including the U.N.) has relied on DU as a means of penetrating the armor of enemy tanks. With the density 1.7 times that of lead, DU is used to coat the shell of bombs and bullets.
-Upon impact with a hard target, DU contaminates the local area with radioactive dust, which may be inhaled or ingested during and after the battle.
-DU has been used in Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and on target ranges in Vieques, Puerto Rico. During the first Gulf War, the military released over 300 tons of DU into the environment.
-Scientific research on DU largely has not explored its long-term consequences and is often distorted by the government. However, doctors report a large amount of anecdotal evidence that DU is associated with Gulf War Syndrome, kidney problems, childhood and adult cancers, neurological disorders, birth defects, and other health problems. Certainly it is worth noting that nearly half of the first Gulf War veterans are sick and over 10,000 have died.

What is certain is that U.S. soldiers as well as Iraqi citizens are currently being exposed to DU. The true health and environmental costs will only become clear in the months and years ahead.- from Western Mass. AFSC flyer on DU

-Exposure to DU may be higher than we are being led to believe

-Vanity Fair Article on "Gulf War Syndrome"This%20month'>">This%20month

Toxic Materials

"The U.S. Department of Defense is the largest polluter in the world, producing more hazardous waste than the five largest U.S. chemical companies combined. (1) The types of hazardous wastes used by the military include pesticides and defoliants like Agent Orange. It includes solvents, petroleum, perchlorate (a component of rocket fuel) lead and mercury. And most ominously, depleted uranium.

The health problems that have been documented as being attributable to these various toxins in military use include miscarriages, low birth weight, birth defects, kidney disease and cancer. Military pollution most directly affects those who are targeted by our weapons, soldiers and anyone living near a military base, both in the U.S. and abroad. In the U.S., one out of every ten Americans lives within ten miles of a military site that has been listed as a Superfund priority cleanup site. -Military Pollution, Common Dreams 3/27/05

Out of 700,000 U.S. soldiers who served in Gulf War I, 118,000 are suffering from chronic fatigue, headaches, muscle spasms, joint pains, anxiety, memory loss and balance problems. Gulf vets are twice as likely to develop Lou Gehrig?s Disease, and two to three times more likely to have children with birth defects.
War has always been a toxic business, but it is much more so today than it was 50 years ago. -American Soldiers Endangered By Their Own Instruments Of War


Soldier falls ill after taking vaccine shots

Father of dead soldier claims Army coverup

Soldiers Refuse the Anthrax Vaccine

Military Mute On Vaccine Danger?

Joining the military is also hazardous to...

Women-Sexual harassment and assault are a daily reality for the overwhelming majority of women in the armed forces. The VA's own figures show 90 percent of recent women veterans reporting harassment - a third of whom were raped. Despite the glossy brochures that advertise "opportunities for women," the military's inherent sexism is evident from sergeants shouting "girl!" at trainees who don't "measure up," to the intimidation of women who speak out about harassment and discrimination - not to mention military men's sexual abuse of civilian women in base communities.-


the poor, minorities, and the people living in the countries we "liberate", the environment......

Don't talk to a recruiter-- talk to a counter recruiter! Find a member group of NNNOMY- the National Network Opposing Militarization of Youth near you-

What about support for our veterans?

On the 11th day of Opt Out a recruiter said to me....

"As for a recruiter making promises and not following through, the recruiter's not in any position to promise anything. We hope that all our recruiters are communicating honestly with our applicants," Mr. Smith said. But he added, "In the contract [between the new soldier and the Army] it says, "Anything the recruiter may have promised me is 'moot'."
Doug Paton, "Rift over recruiting at public high schools," The Christian Science Monitor, online edition,
18 May 2005.

Veterans Issues- The military may take care of their own- but they forget about the veterans... veteran hospital closures, medical care reductions, PTSD

The GI Bill of Rights educated and housed a generation of soldiers in the 1940s and 1950s. Free lifetime medical care was another benefit for two decades of service.
Now, that free care has been ended. US Court of Appeals in Washington ruled that the recruiters who promised lifetime free medical care to WWII vets did not have the standing to do so.

35 percent of the military hospitals that existed in the United States in 1987 are closed today. Other hospitals have cut services. The number of doctors, nurses and medical technicians in military service has also been cut. Yet more Iraq vets are returning with missing limbs and wounds that could not have been survived in the past. Many have head injuries that will require intensive and long-term - if not lifetime- care.

Bush asks America to support our troops- but do you call this "support"?:
-budget cuts that include a huge reduction in veterans home funding, resulting in the loss of thousands of veterans' nursing home beds, and the closure of some homes entirely.
-cutting the benefit that allows vets to stay in nursing homes, literally forcing them out into the cold
-doubling the amount vets pay for prescriptions

PTSD-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
What is PTSD?

"People who suffer from PTSD (have) nightmares and flashbacks, difficulty sleeping, and feel detached or estranged. These symptoms can be severe enough and last long enough to significantly impair the person's daily life. PTSD frequently occurs with depression, substance abuse, problems of memory, and other problems of physical and mental health. The disorder is associated with impairment of the person's ability to function in social or family life, including occupational instability, marital problems and divorces, family discord, and difficulties in parenting. "-National Center for PTSD

The Associate Press reported that 1 in 8 returning Iraq vets has PTSD. CNN says it is 2 in 10. And while one study found that 17 percent of those veterans questioned had PTSD- only 40% were seeking help.
"Ninety percent of those posted to Iraq reported being shot at. A high percentage also reported killing an enemy combatant, or knowing someone who was injured or killed. About half said they had handled a body."-CNN
"A 2004 study endorsed by the Veteran Administration says 18 percent of troops returning from Iraq will have post-traumatic stress disorder, the result of fearing for their lives and the lives of their friends, and the guilt of taking other lives in war."-Washington Times

If our country is going to ask men and women to go into battle and risk their life and health, then we need to be prepared to care for them when they return home. I have often heard that "The military takes care of their own", but the veterans who serve our country aren't being cared for.

-National Center for PTSD

-Veterans for Peace

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Poverty Draft

on the tenth day of opt out a recruiter said to me...
"We'll supply your food, put a roof over your head, and you won't have to worry about what clothes to wear. And when you're done, you'll have job skills and money for college."
People worry about whether or not we will see a return of a military draft, but we have a draft going on right now-- a "poverty draft". Due to government cutbacks on funding for job training, educational costs rising, and a slowly recovering economy, low-income families are preyed on by recruiters who promise a way out of poverty.
The military spends millions each year on marketing that targets young people, promising "up to" thousands of dollars in pay- but they don't tell you that there are only a few positions that qualify for the highest end of the pay promised. They tell you the job skills will prepare you to get a job in the civilian world- but they don't tell you that many things the military trains you for don't qualify for a civilian job.
I recently talked with a young man who had done six years in the army, driving large equipment- tanks and such- from one military base in the country to another. And when the six year were up, he tried to get a truck driving job. It turned out that he still had to take months of training to get licensed to drive for a trucking company- the certificate he got from the army didn't do him any good with any of the companies he applied to. You might work with computers in the army, but they are often old and out of date models, and you won't be ready to use the skills necessary to keep up in the civilian world.
And what about the things the military does have- the realities of injury, PTSD, or death in a combat zone. Some recruiters have gone back to using an old line- that life here in the US is more dangerous than in Iraq! Some students got recruiters on tape using this line- and then got the facts on the real percentage of deaths from car accidents in their county. Numbers the recruiters throw around may make the military sound like a good deal- but do some research, and you may find some better ways to get scholarships and job training. And you won't be asked to kill someone.
On average, the Army spends about $13,000 in recruitment advertising to get one young person enrolled -- about what it costs New York’s public school system per year to educate one child, according to a Village Voice article. The misplaced priorities of the current (and past) administrations try to leave students believing they have no other options- but counter recruiters across the country are working to counter this myth.
-Project YANO- Project on Youth and Non-Military Options- you can download these brochures
Examples of Careers in Peacemaking and Social
Choosing a Career that Pays in Many Ways
-Travel the world and help people with Volunteers for Peace
-Free scholarship seaches
Join UFPJ in Washington, DC or
Get out in the streets of your town on Sept. 24
and make your voice heard-
End the war in Iraq,
Take care of folks in our communities,
Get recruiters out of our schools,
andBring the troops home NOW!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Conscientious Objection

On the ninth day of opt out a recruiter said to me....

If you believe that all wars are wrong, you may be a Conscientious Objector (CO). It is possible to get out of the military as a CO; and in the past COs have been exempted from the draft. However, this depends on convincing the authorities that your beliefs are deeply held and sincere.

The Selective Service System website provides this definition of a CO:
A conscientious objector is one who is opposed to serving in the armed forces and/or bearing arms on the grounds of moral or religious principles.

You can look at the
The Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (CCCO) How to compile a CO Claim page for help in documenting your beliefs.

You will find information and links below to learn about some COs, about what it means to be a CO, how you can document your beliefs and some organizations that can help.

•Kevin Benderman is in military prison for taking a position as a CO and refusing to fight in Iraq. He says,
"I believe we are long overdue for placing as much effort into developing more positive solutions to disagreements as we do on maintaining a force for destruction. As mature, intelligent people, we all have a choice, and I have made mine based on my personal experiences. Isn't that a fundamental right that we all have?"
To find out more about his case see Kevin Benderman Defense Committee

•Pablo Paredes is another CO from the Iraq War. Here is part of what he said when he was sentenced for refusing to go back to Iraq, "What I submit to you and the court is that I am convinced that the current war is exactly that (illegal). So, if there's anything I could be guilty of, it is my beliefs. I am guilty of believing this war is illegal. I'm guilty of believing war in all forms is immoral and useless, and I am guilty of believing that as a service member I have a duty to refuse to participate in this war because it is illegal." From Pablo Paredes statement during sentencing.

For more information see Citizens for Pablo

These organzations have more information.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Enlistment agreements and recruiter promises

On the the eighth day of Opt Out a recruiter said to me...
"If you don't want to go to Iraq, just let your commanding office know, and you won't have to go."

From Liz Rivera Goldstein, Teen Peace Project-
My sister called me a year ago in August, as I was preparing to say good-bye to my college-bound daughter. My sister was also about to say good-bye to her son, who had enlisted in the Army. She told me how great the recruiter was who had signed up my nephew. "The Army is going to invest so much time and money into making you a soldier- and I can see you are great military material. There's no way they are going to waste their investment and ship you off to Iraq." The recruiter guaranteed my nephew he would be stationed in Europe. My nephew has been in Germany since then, but he just got word he will be headed to Iraq in a few months.

There are no guarantees in the military enlistment agreement.
If you read the fine print- you could be kept in for longer than you thought-

From The Military Enlistment/Re-enlistment "Contract" (DD Form 4/1)
(NOTE: The sections below are on the BACK of the enlistment agreement):

9. FOR ALL ENLISTEES OR REENLISTEES: Many laws, regulations, and military customs will govern my conduct and require me to do things a civilian does not have to do. The following statements are not promises or guarantees of any kind. They explain some of the present laws affecting the Armed Forces which I cannot change but which Congress can change at any time.
c. In the event of war, my enlistment in the Armed Forces continues until six (6) months after the war ends, unless my enlistment is ended sooner by the President of the United States.

Recruiters are sales people, and they have a quota to make every month. As the war continues to go badly, and counter recruiters keep the pressure on, enlistment goals are not being met. Last May, recruiters were ordered to "stand down" for one day- no recruiting as they went over ethical recruiting. I have listened to recruiters talk to my son and his friends. They seem to tell half the truth- I always want to finish their sentences with the realities of how little the benefits really are, or how few really get benefits, or how empty those promises are.

Meet Sgt. Abe, the Honest Recruiter.

Sgt. Abe guides you through the enlistment agreement of the U.S. Armed Forces – pointing out many snares along the way, which most recruiters don't talk about.

You can also download a high-resolution print file to copy and hand out. It's an important resource for anyone interested in military service, or anyone having second thoughts about the Delayed Enlistment Program. IT COULD SAVE A LIFE!
Read it here

Deceptions in Military Recruiting: An ex-Insider Speaks Out

Why Wouldn't You Want to Join the Army -or the Marines, Air Force or Navy

Do You Know Enough to Enlist

Ten Points to Consider Before You Enlist

"The Art and Science of Recruiting," According to the Army, by Jorge Mariscal

"The reason to have a military is to be prepared to fight and win wars... it's not a jobs program."
-Former Secretary of Defense Cheney

Sunday, September 18, 2005

DEP- Delayed Enlistment Program

DEP- Delayed Enlistment Program
What is the Delayed Enlistment Program?
Most people who enlist are signed up into the Delayed Enlistment Program (DEP), also called the Delayed Entry Program, for up to a year before they report for active duty training.
To get details on how to get out of the DEP, go to the link at the top of this page.

On the seventh day of opt out a recruiter said to me.....
"Hey Chris, this is Sgt. Kelt with the army, man... by federal law you got an appointment with me at 2 o'clock this afternoon. You fail to appear and we'll have a warrant. Okay? So give me a call back."
-Houston Area Recruiter, caught lying on tape.

The 12 Days of Opt Out
September 12-24, 2005

Check out this blogsite as it changes each day during Sept. 12-24 to educate and highlight the various ways schools are militarized.

From Liz Rivera Goldstein, Teen Peace Project
For the past three years, I have been doing counter recruiting work. I have talked to parents, teachers and friends of young adults who have signed up for the DEP, or are considering enlisting. I am often asked, "What do you say to someone who has decided to enlist?"

If you argue or say something like, "Are you out of your mind??" in an attempt to change their minds, you may just shut down communication. For many people, deciding to enlist is the first big "adult" decision they make. Recruiters know this, and can use bullying statements, such as, "Who wears the pants around here, you - or your mother?" So respecting the young adult you are trying to reach is important.

Instead of lecturing or arguing with them, give them some questions to ask their recruiter. Put them in control of the situation. The best advice I have heard is to suggest they sit across from their recruiter, with a pad of paper and pen. Have them review the promises the recruiter has made- and write each point on the pad. Include things such as money, bonuses, education, job assignment. Then ask the recruiter if that's everything they have offered. If you have it all written down, then push the list over to the recruiter, and ask them to sign their name to the paper, as a guarantee for all they have promised. A recruiter can't do this--it's in the fine print on the enlistment agreement that whatever a recruiter promises is not binding. This can help a person see the reality of the situation- the recruiter is a sales person- trying to close the deal. They can promise all sorts of things- and unlike any other type of transaction- they don't have to deliver on their promises.

Another tool that has helped some folks change their mind, is a list of questions recruiters don't want to be asked:

Saturday, September 17, 2005

JROTC-What Is It Good For?

By Oskar Castro, American Friends Service Committee

The Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp has been around for almost 90 years. At the time of its inception it was designed to train young boys in a militaristic fashion in order to prepare them for eventual service into the military.

Much has changed in the United States since 1916 and JROTC has also undergone some changes. The Department of Defense no longer classifies JROTC as a readiness program. It now classifies it as a program designed to instill discipline, teach citizenship and encourage academic success. Despite these claims, JROTC is still very much a readiness program that assists the military in shaping the minds of elementary & high school aged children into thinking that the military is a sacred cow and an excellent career choice.

Past statistics from the Department of Defense indicated that JROTC cadets with two or more years of JROTC involvement had a 45%-50% rate of enlistment after graduation from high school. Now the Department of Defense claims that only 3%-4% of cadets enter the military after graduation from high school, but what this statistic actually reflects is the amount of former cadets who enter the military IMMEDIATELY after graduation. The 45%-50% rate of enlistment was an overall statistic indicating that over time those former cadets were finding their way into the military.

Regardless of the rate of enlistment, JROTC is a problem for those who value a civil society over a militarized one. With the Department of Defense getting over 400 billion dollars and the Department of Education only getting a little over 50 billion dollars it is no small wonder that the military is able to waltz into schools challenged by their academic & economics woes and offer them a program that alleged to be able to fix their problem. With civil values being replaced by militaristic ones, JROTC moves this nation and its youth ever further away from democracy. The military does not practice democracy and therefore it could never adequately teach our youth to become better citizens of this democratic republic. Making young people wear military uniforms in public schools, encouraging them to follow rank & file, and putting them in classrooms with uniformed instructors is all designed to serve the military. If a cadet graduates from high school then that is just icing on the cake for the program because you can’t enlist without a diploma or certificate anyway.

Want to know more? Visit

Friday, September 16, 2005

On the fifth day of opt out a recruiter said to me.....
"Up to $70,000 for college after you serve"

The 12 Days of Opt Out
September 12-24, 2005

Check out this blogsite as it changes each day during Sept. 12-24 to educate and highlight the various ways schools are militarized.

Reality of funds for college
Recruiters salespitches promise a lot- but do they deliver?
How much will you really get?

Military advertising makes you think that if you enlist, $70,000 you will get for your college education.

But most soldiers never get anywhere near that $70,000. In fact, 57% get nothing. The average net payout to veterans has been $2151.

There are so many hoops that you have to jump through in order to receive college funds. Most service people never see a penny of the $1,200 a newly enlisted soldier must agree to have withheld from their pay for their first year of service, in order to be eligable for college funds. The Pentagon actually makes money on the program.

To receive any money, you must:
• contribute $100 of your own money each month,
• accept a hard-to-fill military job category,
• complete your term of enlistment, and
• receive an honorable discharge.

From the San Francisco Chronicle May, 2005:
According to College Board calculations for the 2004-5 academic year, the current annual benefit of $9,036 covers about 60 percent of the average $14,640 for tuition, books, fees, and living expenses at a four-year public residential college.
The (military college) benefit covers only about 60 percent of the average cost of college, according to the College Board's estimates.

And if you are in the Reserves, your benefits are less, and only available while you are in the Reserves.

•Financing College Without Joining the Military

•Fund for Education and Training (FEAT)
"Assisting individuals who believe it is wrong to register for the draft"

•Debunking the myth- It's not gonna be $50,000-$70,000

•Military Money for College- A Reality Check

•GI Blues: Military recruiters promise 'money for college', but recent veterans find that tuition benefits fall short- S.F. Chronicle

•Alternatives to the Military- United for Peace and Justice