Emily Yates | Originally published in Truthout -
The question came over my right shoulder, from a well-dressed woman whose nametag proclaimed her to be a member of the Chamber of Commerce in Pittsburg, California. We were in the Pittsburg High School gymnasium, the location of an end-of-year career fair for graduating seniors. Two other veterans and I, along with a civilian friend, were tabling there with the Full Picture Coalition, a network of individuals dedicated to bringing students the truth about military recruitment, and we'd been conversing with students for nearly two hours before the woman interrupted us to demand, with eyes narrowed, what kind of negativity we might be spreading. Alex, one of the veterans in our group (and a former Army recruiter himself), smiled at her.
"We're just telling the students about our experience, ma'am," he said. "We're veterans."
I was one of the lucky ones -- my recruiter never promised me I wouldn't see combat. Yet that was a common tactic, as others I met would tell me.
Another woman, also from the Pittsburg Chamber, approached. I recognized her as the one who'd shown us where to set up our table that morning.
"I thought you were here to tell students about corporate jobs they could get after the military," she snapped, glaring at our display of colorful pamphlets and flyers, including one titled "Questions to Ask Your Military Recruiter." "I think you need to leave."