Before You Enlist Video -
Researching Pop Culture and Militarism -
If you have been Harassed by a Military Recruiter -
War: Turning now to Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson - Christian Science Monitor
Click through to find out
Religion and militarism -
‘A Poison in the System’: Military Sexual Assault - New York Times
Change your Mind?
Talk to a Counselor at the GI Rights Hotline
Ask that your child's information is denied to Military Recruiters
And monitor that this request is honored.
Military Recruiters and Programs Target marginalized communities for recruits...
..and the high schools in those same communities

 Militarization of our Schools

The Pentagon is taking over our poorer public schools. This is the reality for disadvantaged youth.


What we can do

Corporate/conservative alliances threaten Democracy . Progressives have an important role to play.

 Why does NNOMY matter?

Most are blind or indifferent to the problem.
A few strive to protect our democracy.

Military Recruiting in the United States

Military Recruiting in the United States provides a fearless and penetrating description of the deceptive practices of the U.S. military as it recruits American youth into the armed forces. Long-time antiwar activist Pat Elder exposes the underworld of American military recruiting in this explosive and consequential book. The book describes how recruiters manage to convince youth to enlist. It details a sophisticated psy-ops campaign directed at children. Elder describes how the military encourages first-person shooter games and places firearms into the hands of thousands using the schools, its JROTC programs, and the Civilian Marksmanship Program to inculcate youth with a reverence for guns. Previously unpublished investigative work reveals how indoor shooting ranges in schools are threatening the health of children and school staff through exposure to lead particulate matter. The book provides a kind of “what’s coming next manual” for European peacemakers as they also confront a rising tide of militarism. The book examines the disturbing, nurturing role of the Catholic Church in recruiting youth. It surveys the wholesale military censorship of Hollywood films, pervasive military testing in the high schools, and an explosion of military programs directed toward youth. For more information, visit: or order the complete book on Amazon or direct from the author.


Pat Elder has long been in the forefront of protecting student privacy and student civil liberties.  Meticulously researched, his book will give students, families, educators, and advocates the tools to understand their rights and obligations when it comes to military recruitment and to defend their rights against overly-aggressive military recruiting. - Beth Haroules, Senior Staff Attorney, New York Civil Liberties Union



This eye-opening book presents us with a clear portrait of a poorly understood problem: the threat to our young people posed by aggressive and deceptive military recruiting. Then it hands us a top-of-the-line tool kit for remedying the situation and, oh by the way, in the process, putting an end to endless wars.   -  David Swanson, author of War is a Lie


"If our culture better understood the truths in this book, the GI Rights Hotline would get fewer calls from military personnel in crisis." - Bill Galvin, Counseling Coordinator, Center on Conscience & War and counselor and board member, the GI Rights Hotline

Download Complete Book as a PDF

Love Our Enemies? Or Kill Them?

Pat Elder |  Counter-Recruit Press | November 2018

The March 2010 edition of Richmond’s Benedictine College Preparatory student newspaper, The New Chevron, carried two articles on the Iraq War exploits of the school’s newly-hired headmaster, Jesse A. Grapes. During the 2nd Battle of Fallujah in November of 2004, 1st Lieutenant Grapes saved the lives of three Marines in his platoon. The newspaper reports:

Jesse A. Grapes, only three words can describe this man, patriotic war hero. He consistently showed unyielding bearing, fortitude, intuition, and courage while serving his country in war. The Marines who served under him said, “He is a hard-charging small unit tactician who literally wrote a book about modern urban warfare following his ferocious experience in Fallujah.”

1st Lieutenant Grapes led 3rd platoon into the chaos of Fallujah, in which he furthered his heroism with his actions of saving three wounded marines at the “infamous Hell House.” To accomplish this feat, he tore off his body armor, forced his body through a window of a burning house, which enabled him to encounter the enemy soldier who had been firing at his troops.

Following this act of heroism, he was accused of the capture, murder, and torture of several prisoners of war. To this he said, “I know nothing about the alleged capture or order to kill the prisoners. If I had heard such a thing I would have immediately stopped it.” Grapes also refused a polygraph examination saying that no machine can trump his honor. “If my word isn’t good enough, nothing would be.”

Grapes’ word was “good enough” to lead the Catholic military school.

Three Marines under the command of 1st Lt. Jesse Grapes shot four defenseless prisoners during the Battle of Fallujah. When the crime came to light a few years later, it made front-page news across the country as the first war crimes charges against service members prosecuted in federal (civilian) court. Naval Criminal Investigative Services, a federal grand jury, and court witnesses documented the events of November 9, 2004, in Fallujah. Grapes’ platoon had been taking fire from a house. After the troops entered the building and captured the insurgents, Sergeant Jose Nazario, Jr. used a radio to call for orders on what to do next.

This is according to the testimony of Marines Weemer, Nelson, and Prentice, who say they were in the room with Mr. Nazario at the time. The instructions, Mr. Nazario told them, were to kill the prisoners. “We argued about it, and argued about it, and we had to move, we had to get out, and our unit was moving down the street,” Mr. Weemer says in the transcript of his testimony.2

Weemer said he shot the insurgent twice in the chest and instantly felt remorseful.3 During the polygraph examination, Weemer alluded to similar atrocities that had occurred on other occasions, indicating his unit did not take prisoners.4

Nazario testified that he was asked over the radio, “Are they dead yet?” When Nazario responded that the captives were still alive, he was told by the Marine on the radio to “make it happen.”5

Prentice said Nazario exchanged radio messages with higher-ups. “Spartan Three, this is Spartan Three-Three,” Prentice claimed Nazario said over his radio. “We have four MAMs (Military-aged males), found AK47s in the house.” “Then Nazario says negative,” Prentice said. “Then Nazario says affirmative.”

Marine Corps records show that at Fallujah “Spartan Three” was 1st Lt. Jesse Grapes, the 3rd Platoon commander. Grapes was not called as a witness.6

Grapes told investigators he had no recollection of hearing about captured enemy combatants on his radio. He was discharged from the Marines after refusing to talk to government investigators about his role at Fallujah. He exercised his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and also refused to testify at the Federal Grand Jury hearing.7

In the end, all criminal charges were dropped when the Marines refused to testify against each other or their commander. It’s quite a lesson for the students at Benedictine College Prep. The Benedictine website contains the following segment entitled “Why Catholic?” that quotes a selection from the Bible, 1 Peter 3:15,

Today, Benedictine College Preparatory continues to glorify God and mold young men into soldiers of Christ. In the world, these men will be ready to fulfill St. Peter’s command: ‘always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you.’ ”8 Appearing in the same edition that welcomes the warfighter accused of murder as the new headmaster, this verse is taken out of context and is terribly misleading, bringing to mind the haunting biblical exhortation in Matthew 18:6: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”

Examine this verse in context in 1 Peter 3:13-16,

Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is right? But even if you do suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence; and keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are abused, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

This is a different message, and it reflects the true gospel message. The school also has an annual Boxing Smoker in coordination with the Georgetown University Boxing Team. Would Jesus have a front row seat?

Benedictine is a kind of poster child for the militarized Catholic school. Every year the school requires all juniors to take the military’s enlistment exam. The school operates an Army JROTC program and teaches small arms practice. Of course, these are expected activities in a military school. The question is whether these activities are appropriate in a Catholic school.

The National Catholic Reporter put it this way in 2003:

Long overdue in the American church is a reasoned and deep discussion of U.S. militarism, the proper use of force, the state’s responsibility to protect and defend, and the role of people of faith in all of this. To this point, Catholic teaching has had little effect in distinguishing us from any other segment of society when it comes to participation in wars and militarism.

The church has chosen to antagonize the state on issues related to abortion, homosexuality, and contraception, but this peripheral resistance provides a relatively minor irritation to the comfortable, contemporary church-state relationship. A rejection of war and violence, however, carries with it a repudiation of nationalism and patriotism, unthinkable in today’s church-state nexus.

The Benedictine website says the work of the school is to mold young men into soldiers of Christ. Did Jesus institute a militant faith?

Military recruiters typically don’t frequent Benedictine in search of enlisted men because schools like Benedictine do the work for them, in this case, providing the military with young men who become officers. Many Benedictine Cadets pursue their college education at the service academies or schools like VMI or the Citadel.

Catholics and the military share a tight bond. About 10% of all Catholic priests have a military background, and 20% grew up in military families. Three years ago every member of the Joint Chiefs except for Marine Corps Commandant Gen. John Amos was a practicing Catholic, according to the Archdiocese for Military Services. 9

Catholic high schools across the country encourage regular visits by military recruiters and sponsor dozens of military programs that entice youth to enlist, often without full disclosure of the true intent of the programs.

Catholics, including youth and priests, enlist in a military that requires the subordination of Catholic doctrine to the military command. For many students, the vestiges of 12 years of Catholic education are largely erased in a few weeks of basic training. Catholic high school

students who enlist take an oath that requires obedience to Army regulations, including the Army Field Manual, which states,

“Your personal values may and probably do extend beyond the Army values, to include such things as political, cultural, or religious beliefs. However, if you’re to be an Army leader and a person of integrity, these values must reinforce not contradict, Army values.” 10

Jesus said no one could serve two masters.

The U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command (USMEPCOM) is poised to exploit the dichotomy. For example, the 3rd Recruiting Brigade headquartered in Fort Knox, Kentucky encourages Catholic recruiters to request permission from school officials “to attend Mass in their dress uniform.” The Brigade says Catholic high schools would be honored to have recruiters join students at Mass and that attendance should improve relations with administrators.11

Catholic Schools have done a poor job, compared to many of their public school counterparts, in protecting children from the military’s predatory practices. In some cases, the recruiting command couldn’t be more effective than the Catholic command. For instance, hundreds of Chaminade Catholic High School graduates from Mineola, New York have entered military service upon graduating from the school. Sadly, 55 Chaminade graduates have been killed in combat, at least since the 1960’s.12

Like Chaminade, St. Pius X High School in Lincoln, Nebraska acts as a proxy for the Recruiting Command. In 2015 the school apparently required 247 students to take the military’s enlistment exam, known as the ASVAB or Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, without providing for parental consent. The school sent test results, along with social security numbers and sensitive demographic information, to the Pentagon without parents specifically saying it was OK. Although military regulations clearly identify the testing regime as a recruiting device, few, if any Catholic schools notify parents of the true nature of the program.13

Catholic schools that receive funds under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) must provide military recruiters, upon request, the names, addresses and phone numbers of children. The law gives parents the right to “opt out” from lists including their children’s names being forwarded to the DoD by notifying the school of their intention. Often, Catholic school students or teachers receive services under ESEA programs, but the schools themselves do not receive any ESEA funds.14 Many schools release records nonetheless.

Catholic Schools are a notoriously independent bunch, unlike state and local schools operating under boards that may regulate hundreds of institutions. For instance, Maryland requires all parents to complete a form specifically asking if they want to remove their child’s name from

lists being sent to recruiters. Catholic schools have no supra-school authority like this (certainly not the National Catholic Education Association), and the military prefers it this way.

The law exempts private schools that maintain a religious objection to service in the Armed Forces. Although this applies to schools affiliated with traditional Christian peace churches like the Church of the Brethren, Quakers, or Mennonites, it does not apply to the military-friendly Catholic Schools.

Instead, schools like St. Louis Catholic High School in Lake Charles, LA apparently require parents to sign a form that releases directory information, along with transcripts, grade point averages, and class rankings to the recruiting command.15

In the 2009-2010 school year, one Milwaukee recruiter was able to use his 15-hour-per-week job as a volunteer coach to mentor—and eventually, enlist—five football players from Pius XI High School. Pope Pius XI, the “peace and justice pope” of the 1930s, would have been appalled.16

We’ve seen how the Army calls for school ownership, and it is apparent at Greensburg Central Catholic High School in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, where the U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command presents awards to recruiters and holds regular change of command ceremonies.17

Recruiters are intent on getting inside the heads of all high school students, including Catholic school students. During the 2012-2013 school year, the military managed to administer its enlistment test, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery Career Exploration Program (ASVAB-CEP) to 11,000 students in 113 Catholic High Schools.18

An examination of the websites of nearly 100 such schools reveals that no sites clearly identified the ASVAB-CEP as a recruitment tool or mentioned that student data would be transferred to military recruiters. Instead, these websites carried upbeat promotional messages often lifted verbatim from Pentagon sources. For instance, Mount St. Mary Catholic High School in Oklahoma City encourages students to take the ASVAB. Rather than accurately describing test proctors as military recruiters or Department of Defense employees, Mount St. Mary’s officials refer to them as “test administrators from the Federal Government.”19

Throughout the country, counselors include language provided by recruiters in their school’s promotional materials. At Newport Central Catholic in Newport, Kentucky, the test is given to juniors in November. In 2013, 95 students took the test and had their test data forwarded to recruiters without parental consent.20

Some schools have gotten the message, though. For example, when Bishop Hartley High School in Columbus, Ohio required its junior class to take the test in 2013, it prohibited the release of student data to recruiters. A notice on the school’s website correctly states that

data would be kept with the school. However, Bishop Hartley is in the minority. Nationally, just 19.6% of all parochial and religious school students taking the test in 2012-2013 had their results withheld from recruiters.

The Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) program is the military’s most effective indoctrination tool in the high schools. JROTC operates in scores of Catholic and religious high schools and teaches military culture and a dangerous, reactionary version of US History and Government. Although many Catholic high schools have embraced anti-violence and anti-gun programs, the JROTC program brings guns and military personnel into these religious schools and teaches students to use them. Good guns and bad guns?

Army values taught in the four-year JROTC curriculum differ from the Christian message in a host of ways, but most importantly, regarding the 5th Commandment, “You shall not kill.” Army values stress killing. The Army Creed has soldiers recite, “I am an American Soldier. I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.”

Colman McCarthy, the Washington DC-based peace activist, framed the military program this way:

The first and most fundamental objection to ROTC based on Catholic thought appeals to what is described as the basic contradiction between a religion that teaches peace and institutions that train for and make war. John Dear, a Jesuit priest formerly on the faculty at Fordham University, asks, “How can we teach peace and uphold the peacemaking life of Jesus on the one hand, while on the other support the Pentagon and train our young people to kill in future wars?”21

Jesus calls us to love our enemies. The Army calls us to kill them.

Military access to Catholic schools strikes at the core of Catholic identity. For Catholics, it calls to mind the divide between the church as envisioned by Cardinal Francis Spellman, who encouraged Catholic students to join “Christ’s war against the Vietcong and the people of North Vietnam”22 and Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, who urged Catholics not to “unquestioningly accept the war policies of their government.” 23

Furthermore, critical thinking skills—so often hailed by educational progressives—may be undermined by what Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr decried as the “military mind,” which “makes unthinking obedience” the greatest good in the “hierarchy of virtues.” The seemingly inexorable march to militarize has no about-face.

American Catholic schools are the most military-friendly Catholic schools in the world, based on an exhaustive internet search of military involvement in Catholic schools worldwide. The cultural

divide between the American Church and the Vatican was apparent in 2001, when the Vatican ratified the U.N. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict. The treaty required that recruitment practices involving minors must be voluntary and carried out with the informed consent of the child’s parents.24

It doesn’t appear that many of America’s Catholic high schools are upholding the Vatican’s end of the deal. The Catholic Catechism teaches war is sanctioned if the following four conditions are met, at one and the same time:

  • The damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
  • All other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
  • There must be serious prospects of success;
  • The use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modem means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.25

The totality of the conditions stated above have never been met in post-World War II American military encounters, rendering all American military actions that have resulted in the deaths of enemy combatants, civilians, and Americans since 1945 immoral and unjustified.

The judgment of the souls of the men and women who have participated in these campaigns rests between them and their Creator. Certainly, heaven holds a million soldiers.

Still, we must join a host of saints in questioning the great Doctors of the Church, St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, who are primarily responsible for the Church’s present-day Just War position. They were human, though many regard their teachings as infallible. Pope Francis has challenged the church’s 1700-year-old green light for war by stating, “Brothers and sisters, never war, never war! Everything is lost with war; nothing is lost with peace. Never more war.” In the U.S., Pax Christi Metro DC – Baltimore has helped to lead the charge to embrace gospel nonviolence as the only stance consistent with Christian discipleship.

Almost every American Catholic classroom prominently displays an American flag and children routinely start their days with a pledge of allegiance to the flag. The practice is rarely questioned. This pledge is an oath to the United States while Jesus condemned making oaths. Consider Matthew 5:33-34, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all.”

Nothing in the Gospels calls for Catholics to pledge their loyalty to the state. When Catholics recite, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done,” they are giving themselves entirely to God. Their minds should be fixed on establishing God’s kingdom on earth, not the violent and sometimes

evil American empire. It is an abomination to lead children in pledging allegiance to the American flag. It is the flag of Hiroshima, of Abu Ghraib, and millions dead in Vietnam. It is the flag of several dozen unnecessary and immoral violent conquests in violation of the church’s Just War position. We must never consent to pledging allegiance to a flag that symbolizes a political entity whose systems and policies condone killing.

The website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) contains the following message regarding the display of American flags in American churches. The USCCB Committee on the Liturgy issued this decision on September 25, 2001, two weeks after the attacks of 9/11,

Surprisingly to many, there are no regulations of any kind governing the display of flags in Roman Catholic Churches. Neither the Code of Canon Law, nor the liturgical books of the Roman rite comment on this practice. As a result, the question of whether and how to display the American flag in a Catholic Church is left up to the judgment of the diocesan bishop, who in turn often delegates this to the discretion of the pastor.

The origin of the display of the American flag in many parishes in the United States appears to have its origins in the offering of prayers for those who served during the Second World War (1941-1945). At that time, many bishops and pastors provided a book of remembrance near the American flag, requesting prayers for loved ones – especially those serving their country in the armed forces –as a way of keeping before the attention of the faithful the needs of military families. This practice has since been confirmed in many places during the Korean, Viet Nam and Iraqi conflicts.

The Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy has in the past encouraged pastors not to place the flag within the sanctuary itself, in order to reserve that space for the altar, the ambo, the presidential chair and the tabernacle. Instead, the suggestion has been made that the American flag be placed outside the sanctuary, or in the vestibule of the Church together with a book of prayer requests. It remains, however, for the diocesan bishop to determine regulations in this matter.26

Having the American flag in the sanctuary is an outrage. Catholics worship God in this holy place. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is appeasing the forces of secular correctness. Many Archdioceses throughout the country, like those in Washington, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia, wash their hands of the issue and defer to the USCCB on the flying of the flag in the sanctuary.

Msgr. Charles Pope is the pastor of Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian in Washington, D.C., and writes for the Archdiocese of Washington at the Msgr. Pope argues that the practice of displaying the flag in the sanctuary may be theologically justified by considering that patriotism is related to the Fourth Commandment, “Honor thy father and mother.” He contends our country nourishes and provides for us as a parent.27

Meanwhile, others are adamant that the flag has no permanent place in the sanctuary. The Diocese of Richmond does not allow the flag in the sanctuary. Instead, it says the flag should be relegated to the vestibule, narthex, or commons area.28 The Archdiocese of Los Angeles calls for the removal of the flag from the main body of its churches. In its statement, “The Display of American Flags in Catholic churches,” LA church leaders point to the US Flag Code. The code states, “When displayed from a staff in a church or public auditorium, the flag of the United States of America should hold the position of superior prominence, in advance of the audience...”

According to the Archdiocese,

Such prominence is not possible in a Catholic church, where the predominant image is that of the crucified Christ. Because of this stipulation, it would be better to give the flag a place of greater prominence outside of the church in a special area, or perhaps in the vestibule or gathering space rather than in the main body of the church.29

The differences between various archdioceses underscore the remarkable autonomy local Catholic districts enjoy on this and other issues. Through its weakness, the USCCB defers decision-making authority to those leaning toward pacifism and militarism alike. It’s reminiscent of local school boards that allow high school principals to develop policies and procedures regarding the access military recruiters enjoy to students.

All Catholic churches, however, seem to be in agreement in the case of funerals. In the Order of Christian Funerals, “national flags ... have no place in the funeral liturgy” and thus “are to be removed from the coffin at the entrance of the church.”30 The flags of the Knights of Columbus, local sports teams, or the 101st Airborne Division are removed from the casket and replaced by the funeral pall, a reminder of the baptismal garment of the deceased.

For a moment, try to imagine how an eight-year-old 3rd grader in one of the nation’s Catholic schools might view the flag and the nation. Every morning the child says the Our Father and recites the Pledge of Allegiance. Both are sacred in her mind. In church, the flag stands on the altar with the crucifix. These stains on the developing political mind last a lifetime and conspire to disable critical, objective thought later in life.

Pat Elder is the director of the National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy, an organization that works to prohibit the automatic release of student information to military recruiting services from the nation's high schools. He is also creator of the website, which documents the deceptive practices used by the US military to recruit students into the armed forces.



 Revised 01/30/2022

Should Recruiters Own Our Schools?

Pat Elder | Counter-Recruit Press | December 2017

Military’s goal is school ownership; communities push back

Throughout the country military recruiters are increasingly allowed to casually share lunch in high school cafeterias and interact freely with high school youth in hallways and classrooms. Military recruiters are on campus so frequently in many schools that they get to know kids on a first-name basis. They “chill” in the locker room and hang out in the parking lot and they play one-on-one basketball with kids after school. Meanwhile, college recruiters are typically required to meet with students by appointment in the guidance office. It’s not the “same” access called for in the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Forget the old adage that familiarity breeds contempt. With vulnerable 16 and 17 year olds, familiarity breeds trust and trust produces enlistment agreements.

The military is secretive concerning the amount of time its recruit- ers and civilian employees spend in the nation’s public schools. Re- searchers must file Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to receive empirical evidence documenting the military’s presence. Data from Massachusetts and Connecticut shed light on the extent of their presence in the high schools in these states.

The three most heavily recruited schools in Massachusetts, according to data obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by Seth Kershner, a researcher and co-author of Counter-Recruitment and the Campaign to Demilitarize Public Schools, are Fitchburg High School, Roger L. Putnam Vocational Technical Academy, and Springfield Central High School.1

The school has a student population that is 50% minority with 49% of students eligible for the free lunch program. Putnam Vocational (87% minority; 80% free lunch) allowed 102 visits, and Springfield Central High School (78% minority; 57% free lunch) was visited 97 times by Army recruiters. Navy, Marine, and Air Force recruiters also make reg- ular visits to these high school campuses, competing with the Army for the same students.

In March of 2015 the American Friends Service Committee Western Massachusetts Program published “Military Recruitment in Western Massachusetts High Schools.”2 The study reports on the findings of a survey sent to officials in 38 high schools in Western Massachusetts regarding military recruitment. From July 2012 to the winter of 2013, AFSC staff submitted public records requests to all public high schools within the four counties of Western Massachusetts: Hampshire, Hamp- den, Franklin, and Berkshire. Among other questions, the survey asked administrators how often recruiters visit, where they set up, and who (if anyone) supervises them.

From the study:

Many schools do not consistently monitor the presence of recruiters, or the content brought by visiting recruiters. There do not appear to be standards for what recruiters are allowed to do, say, or distribute. Of the thirty-eight schools in Western Massachusetts, most schools (twenty-two) required more than one request for AFSC to receive public information on recruiter policies. Five did not respond until the request was made via certified mail. Even then, three did not respond or rejected our request.

The study awarded schools a letter grade, from A to F. An A meant the school did everything possible to minimize the military’s interaction with students. An F grade meant the school was in violation of the law. A school’s failure to alert parents of their right to opt out merited an automatic F. A failure to respond to the Massachusetts Public Records Act request merited an automatic F unless clarification was obtained through other means. There were 5 A’s, 10 B’s, 11 C’s, 6 D’s, and 6 F’s.

Roger L. Putnam Vocational Technical Academy in Springfield re- ceived an F because it failed to respond to four requests. Apparently, Putnam officials didn’t want to share their open-door policy regarding military recruiters. Additionally, 83 students took the ASVAB during the same school year, with all results being forwarded to recruiters without parental consent.3

In Connecticut it’s pretty much the same story. Crosby High School (76% minority, 71% free lunch) was visited 73 times by Army recruit- ers during the 2012 - 2013 school year. On October 18, 2011 the re- cruiter made the following notes, “Great day at Crosby made 36 ap- pointments. A lot of positive staff and kids. We will be conducting all appts this week.”4

At Bloomfield High School, northwest of Hartford (97% minority,
34% free lunch) Army recruiters visited on 62 separate days. Recruit- ers use the JROTC Program as a base within the school. They routinely assist in physical training exercises with the kids.

In September of 2012 the recruiter at Hartford Public High School reported, “I gave a presentation in English class and they had lots of questions... gave a ppt presentation. On the way out met               (re- dacted) and he was interested in having me come in during class and talk about the Middle East at some point in the future.”

Throughout the country non-degreed recruiters befriend supportive teachers to gain access to children. They complement thousands of JROTC instructors, who are typically the only non-degreed, non-certi- fied “teachers” in American classrooms.
Not all schools in Massachusetts and Connecticut are as friendly to the recruiting command as the schools discussed above. Consider the notes the recruiter made regarding his experiences with Classical Magnet School in Hartford on March 12, 2012.

Dropped off request to      (redacted) she stated that their school does not release school lists. When asked about table days and presentations she said, we really don’t do that. trouble school will not release directory info. receives federal funds. also limits ac- cess to recruiters. Forwarding school info to explore possibility of Battalion intervention to release list or begin the Recruiter Access
to High Schools Database Process In accordance with Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 2002.

Withholding directory information or disallowing recruiter access may result in a suspension of federal funding to schools. It is the military’s trump card. The “Every Student Succeeds Act” (ESSA), the re-written
2015 version of the No Child Left Behind Act, maintains this provision regarding military access to schools.

Robert E. Lee High School in Staunton, Virginia provides a typi- cal scenario regarding recruiter visits. Military recruiters are allowed to have lunch in the cafeteria with all of the students in the school. Army recruiters visit on the first and third Thursdays throughout the school year, while Navy recruiters visit on the second Tuesday of every month. Marine and Air Force recruiters also show up for the lunch periods in the cafeteria. Meanwhile, college recruiters are required to make appointments to meet with students in the counseling office.5

According to the Army’s School Recruiting Program Handbook, “The objective of the Army’s school recruiting program is to assist recruiters with programs and services so they can effectively penetrate the school market. The goal is school ownership that can only lead to a greater number of Army enlistments.” 6

The following roles military recruiters perform in thousands of high schools across the country illustrate exactly how the Army is attaining school ownership:


•    Football conditioning coach

•    Career Day Counselor

•    Interactive recruiting vans with simulators

•    Presentations to the Student Government

•    Presentations to the PTA

•    Presentations to the School Board

•    Training the school color guard

•    Facilitating flag raising/Pledge of Allegiance

•    Helping with school registration

•    Regularly delivering donuts to faculty meetings

•    Placing advertisements in the student newspaper

•    Assuming a leading role in the homecoming parade

•    Chaperoning at homecoming dance and other dances throughout the year

•    Regular presentations to history and government classes

•    Basketball conditioning coach

•    Coin toss at football games

•    Attendance at all home football games

•    Halftime football ceremonies

•    Timekeeper

•    Recruiter v. Faculty basketball games

•    Track and Field Assistant

•    Baseball assistant coach

•    On stage at graduation

Ironically, the Army has developed an anti-bullying campaign to fur- ther “penetrate” the middle and high school “markets.” The issue of bullying has captured an extraordinary amount of attention nationwide, while the nation has witnessed a proliferation of anti-bullying programs in schools. The Army has produced a video, Be a leader against bul- lying, that provides additional license for recruiters to be on campus. Consider this piece, “Army Recruiter Works to Prevent Bullying,” that appeared on the Army’s homepage in 2013:
The Army’s Anti-Bullying Campaign is making an impact one fam- ily, one school and one community at a time. Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Athy of the Asheville, North Carolina Recruiting Center discov- ered his own daughter was being picked on and bullied for being overweight after he had an at-home viewing and discussion of the anti-bullying campaign video with his family.

“As a father it broke my heart that this was going on and I couldn’t protect my daughter,” said Athy. Then his son began asking ques- tions, as well, after a student at his middle school committed suicide

because of bullying. “After that, I thought I have to find a way to help and maybe even change some things,” said Athy. He intro- duced members of the Buncombe County Board of Education to the Army’s campaign explaining how he wanted to help and was welcomed with open arms.

Athy conducted anti-bullying presentations at four schools this past school year and plans to conduct presentations in all of the area middle and high schools in the coming school year.” 7
From the Army’s perspective, it’s a win-win situation. The video is professionally produced and does a good job framing the issue, while re- cruiters gain access to the entire student body. Realizing the public rela- tions bonanza, the Army has commissioned interactive tractor trailers to crisscross the country showing the anti-bullying video in a mobile theatre to the middle and high school crowd. The Army’s website says the mas- sive trucks require four recruiters to provide “support assistance”.8

Army Recruiting Van  - U.S. Army Mission Support Battalion  BY ARMAND PEREZ, DEFENSE VIDEO IMAGERY DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM

The Pentagon puts up a great front. In fact, though, the DOD has the worst record of all American institutions regarding the acceptance of violence within its ranks. Assault and bullying in the military occur at alarming rates. Rather than making revolutionary changes to radically alter chronic abuse in the chain of command, the Pentagon relies on sophisticated marketing campaigns to make it all go away—at least in the public’s eye. Their anti-bullying campaign kills two pesky birds with one stone.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) addressed the Senate in 2014 re- garding violence in the chain of command. Gillibrand has also led the fight in Congress to remove sexual assault cases from military juris- diction.

She hit upon the term toxic leadership in the Army’s own materials, and described it as a main cause of bullying and suicides in the mili- tary. According to Army Doctrine Publication 6-22 (September, 2012), “The toxic leader operates with an inflated sense of self-worth and from acute self-interest. Toxic leaders consistently use dysfunctional behaviors to deceive, intimidate, coerce, or unfairly punish others to get what they want for themselves.”9
  According to Col. George Reed, former director of Command and Leadership Studies at the War College, 20% of the American military force is victimized by toxic leadership, intimidating, hostile, aggres- sive, and frightening behavior directed by officers toward enlisted sol- diers.10 The officers call it “smoking” a soldier. This behavior is a con- tributing factor in the skyrocketing number of suicides in the military.
The Army knows a lot about bullying.

Troops to Teachers

The DOD established Troops to Teachers (TTT) in 1994. Today it is funded by the U.S. Department of Education but run by the DOD through Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES), in Pensacola, Florida.

DANTES has established a network of state TTT offices to provide separating soldiers with counseling and assistance regarding certifica- tion requirements, routes to state certification, and employment leads. The TTT homepage provides information and resource links, including links to state departments of education, state certification offices, and other job listing sites in public education.

Troops to Teachers candidates must meet all state teacher certification requirements for the state where they desire to teach, although ev- ery state has implemented alternative licensing programs that make it a lot easier for soldiers and others to begin immediately teaching while licensure without a bachelor’s degree is worked out over the course of several years.

Some states, like Texas, make it relatively easy for non-degreed soldiers to find work as teachers. Soldiers often leave the military with skills in areas where the high schools offer technical education to their students. In Texas and elsewhere, the process for certification in a tech- nical field like shop or auto mechanics is distinct from standard subject area certification and may be accomplished without a bachelor’s degree.

Separating soldiers in Texas are instructed through the Troops to Teachers program to contact an authorized state college or university, like the Wayland Baptist University, which offers an On-Line Certifica- tion Program, to evaluate their experience as a first step in applying to teach in Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs throughout the state. The soldier files his DD 214 discharge papers and completes the Texas Education Agency Statement of Qualifications form detailing his or her military technical experience.

Once the  educational brokers  evaluate the  documentation, they issue a deficiency plan, which details the courses that a soldier must eventually take to complete certification. The plan often involves up to 18 semester hours of CTE courses, plus a course in the US/Texas Constitution or government. Depending on how many credits are required, soldiers are given between one and three years to complete course work.11

When the deficiency plan is created, departing soldiers may apply to school districts to teach with full pay and benefits on a probationary certificate for up to three years.  Before certification is authorized, the veteran must pass the applicable Texas Examination of Education Stan- dards (TExES).

Troops to Teachers provides a pipeline of high school-educated soldiers who fill technical teaching jobs in high schools across the country.

Eligible military veterans may receive a federally funded stipend of up to $5,000 to help them pay for state teacher certification and a one-time bonus of up to $10,000 for agreeing to teach in a high-poverty school. The stipend and bonus combined cannot exceed a total of $10,000.

In the Houston Independent School District (ISD), the largest school district in Texas, TTT members may pursue certifications in areas such as welding, automotive technicians, diesel mechanics, cu- linary arts, and many more. In fact, there are 153 skills in Houston ISD that Service members could qualify to teach using their military experience.12

Army propagandists are quick to note the beneficial impact TTT has on recruiting. According to a 2014 story, “Troops to Teachers program offers post-Army careers” on, the official homepage of the U.S. Army, Troops to Teachers helps the Army “because it puts people into the classrooms that are going to be preparing future Sol- diers for service.”

The piece continues:

Today, discipline in the classroom comes into question, and that’s where their military training comes into play. Army values really help create people that would be wonderful teachers. And Soldiers can instill the Army values into their students and can be great role models along with appropriate disciplinarians.13

Some of these Army values will have to change to be successful in the classroom. Perhaps the “mission” in the Army is clearly defined, but it won’t be so cut and dry in a high-poverty area 9th grade class- room where some students won’t take orders.

Great teachers don’t rely on fear and discipline. Soldier/teachers will be forced to ignore the Soldier’s Creed and admit defeat, often daily. They may be professional soldiers but they aren’t profession- al teachers. Their “proficiency in warrior tasks” and drills won’t help them in classes with a dozen students carrying Individualized Educa- tional Plans. Can these battle-tested soldiers cope with children on the Asperger’s scale, with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and with undiagnosed anxiety disorders? This is the reality in many Amer- ican classrooms today.

Are these soldiers willing and able to devise diversified classroom instructional plans while being mindful of strategies to employ with divergent learners? Will they devise several plans for one lesson that reach children with different learning styles such as visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, linguistic or logical, to name a few?

Saltman and Gabbard, in the introduction to their edited book, Education as Enforcement - The Militarization and Corporatization of Schools, put the TTT program into perspective, referring to it as part of military education, Military education refers to explicit efforts to expand and legitimate military training in public schooling. These sorts of programs are exemplified by JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps) programs, the Troops to Teachers program that places retired soldiers in schools, the trend of military generals hired as school superintendents or CEOs, the uniform movement, the Lockheed Martin corporation’s public school in Georgia, and the army’s development of the biggest online education program in the world as a recruiting inducement. 14

 It is alarming to witness the rapid proliferation of programs that contribute to the militarization of American youth.
 Col. John Box, Commander of the U.S. Army Recruiting 3rd Brigade, wrote a revealing article that provides a glimpse into the mentality of the recruiting command. The piece pits the recruiters against youth in a demented kind of surveillance-based guerilla warfare scenario. The disturbing commentary, “A guide to intelligence driven prospecting,” dated December 18, 2013, appeared on the Army’s homepage, www. In Box’s military mind the high schools provide the brick and mortar where the “enemy or target” is confined to meet the “challenge of the counterinsurgency fight.”1

Box’s analogy is particularly chilling now that the Pentagon allows recruiters to carry loaded and concealed automatic weapons into the schools. You’d have to be familiar with a boatload of acronyms to decode the colonel’s message. These acronyms all appear in Box’s 1,100-word piece, which is meant for public consumption:

  FOB Forward Operations Base
  IPB Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield
  SUR Small Unit Recruiting
  ET Engagement Team
  RST  Recruiting Support Team
  FSL Future Soldier Leader
  CC  Center Commander
  ACC Assistant Center Commander
  OPS Operations
  NCOC Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge
  S2  Intelligence
  AAR After Action Review
  TPU’s Troop Program Units
  HPTL High Payoff Target List
  3-01 Recruiting Manual
  3-06 Recruiting Manual
  APL Automated Processing List
  SASVB Student Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery
  TNEL Tested Not Enlisted List
  ALRL  Automated Lead Refinement List (from the high schools)
  SUR  Surveillance

Sample a taste of recruiting brigade culture from Box’s piece.

The RST’s role is to process applicants after handoff has occurred from the CC, ET, or FSL. Similar to the roles of an S2 in any maneuver unit using IPB, the RST considers market intelligence, prospecting analysis, and creates a high payoff target list (HPTL) for the CC, ET, and FSL. This HPTL is created from the automated processing list (APL), Student Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (SASVAB) test list, tested not enlisted (TNE) list, or the National Advertising (ADHQ) leads when formulating prospecting plans for the ET, CC, and FSL.
Colonel Box treats teenagers and the local high school like the enemy
on a battlefield. He writes,

In the 3rd brigade we, The Marauders, use an operational mindset and treat every recruiting center like a forward operations base (FOB). In the operational Army, a Soldier would never engage the enemy or a target without having the proper intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) and target information prior to departing the FOB; so why should our recruiters be any different?

To answer the colonel’s question, recruiters should be different because they operate in our home towns and their prospects are our children. They’re tender and they’re vulnerable, and although they often think otherwise, the kids don’t know much about the world.

An American community is not a battlefield, although understandable public resentment in some schools and towns may make it seem that way to the colonel.


The brigade commander’s battlefield analogy continues,

Just as Soldiers in a combat environment have to change, adapt and become more innovative, we must do the same in Recruiting Command. A key challenge of the counterinsurgency fight in both Iraq and Afghanistan are reflected in Sun Tzu’s adage that the enemy “Swims in the sea of the people.” I would offer that our prospects swim in the sea of high schools, colleges, and the communities at large.

While Box’s troops are pinning down the “enemy” in our schools they’re also involved in a kind of virtual counterinsurgency. The command realizes kids are glued to their smartphones, so they’ve created an impressive, virtual presence. Recruiters lurk on social media sites to determine where youth might congregate over the weekend. Is it the parking lot behind Appleby’s? Is it the food court at the mall, or is everyone heading to the pond to ice skate?

Recruiters also pose online as potential recruits sharing their frustrations or asking for advice regarding the military’s entrance exam, the ASVAB. They try to drum up interest in the test, which is offered at
12,000 high schools across the country. The Army requires a minimum test score of 31 to qualify for enlistment. (See the chapter on ASVAB Testing.) Although it’s tough to gauge, a 31 on the ASVAB is roughly equivalent to low 8th grade level, if that. A score of 17 translates to functional illiteracy, perhaps a 2nd to 4th grade level. The item below was posted by “Leticia.” Leticia only capitalizes half of her I’s and never uses an apostrophe. Other than that, her grammar and spelling are stellar, suggesting a much higher level than a 17 for the writer.


ASVAB HELP! NEED TO SCORE A 50 but i got a 17 :(?Okay, so i got a 17 on my ASVAB score. What can i do to improve? I need a 50 or higher. I can retake in one month. School ends in two weeks and ill have enough time to study. PLEASE HELP ME OUT! I real- ly am interested in this. Im working really hard for it. I dont want to give up. How can i aim for that 50 or higher? I dont understand how i got a 17.16

There are thousands of posts like this in dozens of chat rooms. They’re written by deceptive, sucker-punching recruiters looking for their next lead.

Here’s an obvious one:

Im a category 4 asvab wavier for the marines how will this effect my career am i in for horrible time or will i be ok im not nerves of leaven?

Best Answer: once your in the marines, your asvab score doesn’t matter it will effect what mos you can do when you enlist and it will effect trying to get into things like recon in the future but other than that, no one ever looks at your asvab score

Henry: Marines aren’t taking people below a 50 last I heard.

Wine Wine: U Dirty Skunk: No way! Someone with your obvious mastery of the written language a CAT IV?!?! Get out of here.17
CAT IV means a potential recruit scored between 10 and 30 on the AFQT, the Armed Forces Qualification Test. Recruits must score at least a 32 to join the Marine Corps. A few exceptions are created for extraordinarily talented recruits that have exceptional skills. This post is very likely engineered by the recruiting command to give hope to the lowest echelon of recruits, if they can read it.


The “Best Answer” is likely from the same recruiter and is posted to reassure academically challenged potential recruits. The responses by Henry and Wine are obviously not sanctioned by the military entrance processing command.

Here’s another:


I saw a job ad for a “linguist” on and it was for the U.S military. I’m an interpreter already and always looking for new work. I signed up and got an interview. I had NO IDEA, what to ex- pect. I was just looking for more work. I got there, and was blown away. First off, they had me take the ASVAB which I was NOT pre- pared for. I didn’t think I would ACTUALLY be joining the military if I was gonna work as an interpreter for them. So I took the test, I had no idea what to expect, I thought it was gonna be really easy.

I didn’t think I had an issue on the language portion (English and Reading Comprehension) but I hadn’t taken a math class for four years and it’s always been my toughest subject, and I am AWFUL at problem solving, I was never good at it, so I’m pretty sure that had a lot to do with my low score. Does a 26 practically mean I could be mildly retarded? 18


What we see here is a tendency to suggest that jobs requiring advanced degrees might be within the realm of possibility for someone who op- erates at an elementary school level. Imposters say they’re struggling to score a 31 and are looking for high paying jobs. Readers can dream of being all they can be, but infantry is typically the reality for enlistees who barely score a 31.

The military is still largely an archaic institution, a throwback to the 19th century with an antiquated, authoritarian structure and mind- set. Sometimes, however, it can be surprisingly forthright. Sometimes, though rarely, it demonstrates the honesty and transparency that are appropriate for a responsive governmental institution in a 21st century democratic republic. A case in point is an article by Lance Corporal David Flynn, “A Snapshot of a Recruiter’s World,” which appeared in Marine Corps News in June of 2011.19 Flynn tracks Staff Sgt. Michael Hauck, Recruiting Station Baltimore, as he makes the rounds between two Maryland high schools, I go to Duval High School every Thursday and Friday,” said Hauck. “On Monday and Tuesday I go to Bowie High School. I spend so much time at the schools that they’ve given me offices at both where I can meet with students.” Hauck tutors students on the ASV- AB in his offices.

It’s not uncommon for recruiters to have offices in schools across the country. They’re often regarded as supplemental guidance counselors, although most are staff sergeants with little or no college. JROTC in- structors teach credited courses without degrees.

The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) urges guid- ance counselors to steer “at risk” youth toward the Army’s “Planning for Life” (PFL) program, ostensibly designed to help students further their education and plan for life. The ASCA claims “at-risk” youth re- ceive motivational messages and tools to strengthen “mind, body and soul” during half-day workshops co-hosted by the Army and commu- nity groups.20

The article on the Maryland recruiter describes how Staff Sgt. Hauck brought Duval history teacher Brent Sullivan to Parris Island earlier that year to attend the Educators Workshop and experience re- cruit training first hand. Each year, from October through May, Marine Corps recruiters invite high school educators, counselors, coaches, and other influencers to visit Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C. There, they witness firsthand the Marine Corps’ recruit-training program.21 Teachers get to shoot weapons and pretend to be a recruit. They even get yelled at by drill instructors. “We’re an all-recruited force,” said Hauck. “Of course we all volunteered, but someone had to find those volunteers.”

Is it a recruited force or a volunteer force?  Is it fair to say impressionable teens “volunteer” for military service when so much institu- tional coercion is involved?

The access military recruiters enjoy on a given high school campus is largely determined by the principal. If the principals of Bowie and Duval high schools in Maryland didn’t want recruiters to use office space to regularly prepare youth for the military’s enlistment test, that would be the end of it. Although the military is chipping away at its goal of school ownership, local communities are legally empowered to exercise day-to-day control over their schools.

The office of a public high school principal occupies a unique position in American society. A retired U.S. Marine Commander and a pacifist Quaker may be principals in neighboring high schools under the nominal jurisdiction of a school board, each exercising a remark- able degree of autonomy. There are few institutions in America where one individual exerts such direct, unfettered control over the daily lives of so many.

As we’ve seen, the access granted to military recruiters on high school campuses is a function of the culture of an individual school, but it is also determined by the geographical region of the country and the particular recruiting brigade and battalion.

The relatively progressive New England states of Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Vermont have military enlistment rates of 1.48, 1.26, 1.43, and 1.63 recruits respectively per 1,000 youth aged 18-24. Meanwhile, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Alabama have rates of 3.45, 3.46, 3.25, and 3.15.22 It’s not a shocker that young men and women from states of the old confederacy are twice as likely to join the military as youth from New England states. Gen- erally, southern states appear most likely to have an open-door policy regarding military recruiters, followed by schools from the Midwest, West, and Northeast. Of the top 10 states that select ASVAB Option 8 to protect student privacy (See the Chapter on Military Testing) five are from the Northeast and the rest are from the West, with the exception of Minnesota and Nebraska, where robust citizen activism has pressured school authorities to take steps to seek parental consent when children are tested by the recruiting command.

We also see variations in the ASVAB data that correlate closely to the high schools covered by particular Recruiting Brigades. High schools in the 3rd Recruiting Brigade in Fort Knox, Kentucky, which encompasses Recruiting Battalions in Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Indianapolis, Great Lakes, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and Nashville, are much more likely to require ASVAB testing than schools in the 1st Recruiting Brigade, headquartered in Fort Meade, Maryland, which recruits from high schools in the Northeast.

To put this discussion into context, consider the rebellious, obsti- nate, contrarian 17- year-old who is not getting along with his parents, who are frightened by his stated intentions to join the military. Consid- er the recruiting command that gathers a virtual portrait of the youth for its targeted, sophisticated pitch and consider the school that allows recruiters to “chill” with students in the cafeteria during lunch.

In addition to the presence of military recruiters in our schools, the military also manages to “penetrate the school market” through the following DOD-supported programs operating in the nation’s public schools:


  •    4-H Tech Wizards
•    Adopt a School Program
•    Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery
•    Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Program
•    Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps
•    Army Educational Outreach Program
•    Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, Battlefrog
•    Building Engineering and Science Talent
•    Camp Invention
•    Career Exploration Program
•    Civil Air Patrol
•    Civilian Marksmanship Program
•    Computers for Learning Program
•    Cyberpatriot
•    ECybermission
•    Expanding Your Horizons
•    FIRST Lego
•    FIRST Robotics Competition
•    FIRST Tech Challenge
•    Gains in the Education of Mathematics and Science
•    Internship Programs for High School Students through the Army Educational Outreach Program
•    Iridescent
•    Junior First Lego League
•    Junior Science and Humanities Symposia Program
•    Junior Solar Sprint
•    March to Success
•    Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps
•    Mathcounts
•    Math Video Challenge
•    Mobile Discovery Center
•    National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program
•    Naval High School Science Awards Program
•    Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps
•    Navy Seal Fitness Challenge (Archived)
•    Navy STEM
•    Project Partnership for All Students’ Success
•    Remotely Operated Vehicle Program
•    Research & Engineering Apprenticeship Program
•    School Challenge
•    Science and Engineering Apprenticeship Program, SEAP
•    Sea Perch
•    Starbase Program
•    Students Taking Active Roles
•    Summer Engineering Experience for Kids
•    Ten80 Education
•    US First Robotics
•    US Navy Music for Recruiting Program
•    UNITE
•    U.S. Army Reserve National Scholar/ Athlete Award Program
•    U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps
•    We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution
•    West Point Bridge Design Contest
•    Young Marines

Counter-recruiters have legal rights to access schools

Rick Jahnkow with the Project on Youth & Military Opportunities (Project YANO) is widely regarded as the ultimate source for a range of counter-recruitment issues, particularly the access activists have to the nation’s high schools to counter the message of recruiters.

In Jahnkow’s words:

For anyone who might be seeking school access, it’s useful to know that there are solid legal arguments in favor of allowing groups to disseminate negative factual information on military enlistment
in schools. While it would not be wise to litigate the issue in the current judicial climate—with a very conservative, pro-military Supreme Court—it’s good to know what the lower courts have said on the topic so we can thoughtfully bring it up when necessary.

Jahnkow outlines a host of lower court rulings, including the 9th Circuit
Appellate Court’s decision, which says,

“[I]t has long been recognized that the subject of military service is controversial and political in nature.” The court went on to say that if a school has created a forum for advocates of military service,
“the Board cannot allow the presentation of one side of an issue, but prohibit the presentation of the other side.” (San Diego CARD v. Grossmont Union H.S. District, 1986)

These rulings make it clear that along with presenting positive alternatives to the military in schools, counter-recruitment groups have a legal right to present negative facts to help students fully evaluate the military as a career option.23

Notes – Chapter 4

1. Data received through a Freedom of Information Act Request; Database documenting U.S.Army recruiter visits to Massachusetts schools in the Springfield Company from October 1,2012 to September 30, 2013. USAREC Albany Recruiting Battalion.
2. Military Recruitment in Western Massachusetts High Schools. (2015, March 1). RetrievedAugust 8, 2015, from
3. The state data was created from the national database received on December 18, 2013 from Yasmeen Hargis, FOIA Analyst For Suzanne Council, Senior Advisor on behalf of Paul J. Jacobsmeyer, Chief, Freedom of Information Office of the Secretary of Defense and Joint Staff FOIA Request Service Center 1155 Defense Pentagon Washington, DC 20301-1155.
4. FOIA Data
5. “Robert E. Lee High School.” School Counseling Home / Military Recruiters. Staunton, VA Public Schools. Web. 20 July 2015.
6. 1-4 (c) USAREC Pamphlet 350-13 School Recruiting Program Handbook Headquarters, United States Army Recruiting Command September 1, 2004 army_recruiter_hdbk.pdf.
7. Garcia, V. (2013, August 1). ARMY.MIL, The Official Homepage of the United StatesArmy. Retrieved August 11, 2015, from < >
8. Mobile Exhibit Company’s Interactive Semis. (n.d.). Retrieved August 11, 2015, from
9. ADP 622 - Army Leadership. (2012, August 1). Retrieved December 24, 2015, from
10. Zwerdling, D. (2014, January 6). Army Takes On Its Own Toxic Leaders. Retrieved Au- gust 11, 2015, from
11. Troops to Teachers Proud to Serve Again.” Texas Troops to Teachers. Web. 07 Mar. 2016. (Archived).
12. Nenetsky, Dr. Christene. “Texas TTT Partners with Houston School District.” Military. com. 4 Aug. 2015. Web. 07 Mar. 2016.
13. Martin, Sarah. “Troops to Teachers program offers post-Army careers.”
7 April. 2014. Web 07 Mar. 2016
14. Saltman, Kenneth J. and Gabbard, David A. “Education as Enforcement: The Militariza- tion and Corporatization of Schools.” Routledge, 2011 – 320 pages
15. Box, Col. John. “ARMY.MIL, The Official Homepage of the United States Army.” AGuide to Intelligence Driven Prospecting. The United States Army, 18 Dec. 2013. Web. 20July 2015.
16. “ASVAB HELP! NEED TO SCORE A 50 but I Got a 17 :(?” Yahoo! Answers. Yahoo!,2013. Web. 20 July 2015.
17. “Im a category 4 asvab wavier” Yahoo! Answers. Yahoo! 2016. Web. 22 April 2016,
18. I got a 26 on my ASVAB? Yahoo Answers. Yahoo! 2013. Web. 20 July 2015
19. David Flynn, Lance Corporal. “Marine Corps Recruiting Command.” A Snapshot of aRecruiter’s World News Article Display. The United States Marine Corps, 30 June 2011. Web.
20 July 2015.
20. Dahir, Carol, E.D. Planning for Life: Developing and Recognizing Exemplary Career Planning Programs. A Resource Guide for Counselors. American School Counselor Associa- tion, Alexandria, VA. Army Recruiting Command, Fort Knox, KY. 2001-00-00 72 p.
21. “4th Marine Corps District.” Resources Educator Resources. United States Marine Corps. Web. 20 July 2015.
22. “Military Recruitment 2010.” National Priorities Project. 30 June 2011. Web. 21 July 2015.
23. Jahnkow, R. (2011, April 30). Antiwar group claims message stifled. Retrieved December
29, 2015, from

Pat Elder is the director of the National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy, an organization that works to prohibit the automatic release of student information to military recruiting services from the nation's high schools. He is also creator of the website, which documents the deceptive practices used by the US military to recruit students into the armed forces.

 Revised 01/30/2022



Recruiting Is PSY OPS at Home

Pat Elder |  Counter-Recruit Press | July 2017

Leading health organization calls for ending school recruiting


In 2012 the American Public Health Association, (APHA), one of the country’s foremost health organizations and publisher of the influential American Journal of Public Health, adopted a policy statement calling for the cessation of military recruiting in public elementary and secondary schools.

APHA demands the elimination of the No Child Left Behind Act requirement that high schools both be open to military recruiters and turn over contact information on all students to recruiters and eliminating practices that encourage military recruiters to approach adolescents in US public high schools to enlist in the military services.1

APHA identifies several compelling public health reasons in calling for the cessation of military recruiting in the public schools. Most importantly, they argue that adolescents experience limitations in judging risk at this stage in life and they are unable to fully evaluate the consequences of making a choice to enter the military. The pre-eminent health organization points to the greater likelihood that the youngest soldiers will experience increased mental health risks, including stress, substance abuse, anxiety syndromes, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and suicide.

The Military Enlistment Document Is Fraudulent

Pat Elder | Counter-Recruit Press | November 2016

Enlistment agreement is binding upon the recruit but not binding upon the military

The Enlistment/Reenlistment Document, DD FORM 4, amounts to an unconscionable sucker punch that lays out the woefully unsophisticated and uneducated recruit. It is reprehensible and entirely unacceptable that the United States of America, a nation with a rich tradition of constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties, should resort to proffering this charade of an “agreement” to the vulnerable young. This document is an imprisoning, one-sided, legally obligating miscarriage of justice.

Every year American high schools produce hundreds of thousands of semi-literate youth who are routinely devoured by the vultures of American capitalism through extraordinarily complex multi-page contracts that represent corporate interests in every sector of the American marketplace. Twenty-page cell phone and credit card agreements are written in complex terms in very fine print, although these are relatively simple instruments compared to most finance and insurance contracts. High school graduates might study Chaucer and Algebra but they’re functionally illiterate and woefully unprepared for the American marketplace. They can’t comprehend the contracts that govern their lives because they don’t teach that stuff in American high schools– and they’re not likely to any time soon. The handful of corporate behemoths that control the lion’s share of the US economy prefers ignorant consumers in this regard.

These contractual entanglements produce a tyranny of the corporate elite, but they stop short of exercising the all-encompassing and incarcerating power of the military Enlistment/Reenlistment Document, DD FORM 4.

Its unlikely many military recruits read and fully comprehend the fine print in the enlistment document, although they’d be well advised to pay attention to Page 2, Sec 9. 5(b), which states

Laws and regulations that govern military personnel may change without notice to me. Such changes may affect my status, pay, allowances, benefits, and responsibilities as a member of the Armed Forces REGARDLESS of the provisions of this enlistment/ reenlistment document.1

This is tantamount to a credit card agreement that says cardholders are locked in for a minimum of 8 years or a maximum of eternity with the possibility of interest rates reaching 100% or more without notice.

The enlistment/reenlistment document is not a contract. It is a oneway arrangement that is binding upon the recruit but not the military. The document is like the indentured servant agreement executed during the colonial period in many of the American colonies, except that the indentured servant contract typically lasted seven years, whereas the military enlistment contract lasts longer and may be renewed indefinitely.

Section 10 a. requires recruits to serve for eight (8) years. While soldiers may only serve four years of active duty, they are legally contracted, and may be called up any time, during those eight years. Too often, new recruits think they’ve signed up for four years of active duty only to find later they may be required to serve for four additional years – and longer.

During a time of “war” soldiers might be required to serve indefinitely. Section 10 c. addresses “Stop-Loss”:

As a member of a Reserve Component of an Armed Force, in time of war or of national emergency declared by the Congress, I may, without my consent, be ordered to serve on active duty, for the entire period of the war or emergency and for six (6) months after its end (10 U.S.C. 12301(a)). My enlistment may be extended during this period without my consent (10 U.S.C. 12103(c)).

Unfortunately, most high school youth are not afforded the opportunity to study constitutional law. If they did, they’d learn the crucial importance of cases like Wallace v. Chafee, the litigation of a military enlistment contract in which the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held, “One who enters a contract is on notice of the provisions of the contract. If he assents voluntarily to those provisions after notice, he should be presumed, in the absence of ambiguity, to have understood and agreed to comply with the provisions as written.”

The recruiting command doesn’t want potential recruits to spend a great deal of time thinking about the most important decision most have ever made up to this point in their lives. Consider this outrageous excerpt from the Army’s Recruiter Handbook, USAREC Manual 3-01, which gives advice to recruiters who must fill a monthly quota;

Even though face-to-face isn’t the most efficient means of prospecting, it is the most effective if excessive travel is not required. With the lowest contact to contract ratio, face-to-face prospecting should be your method of choice when you need a quick contract. Simply make a list of people you haven’t been able to contact, grab some RPIs (recruiting publicity items), and knock on some doors.2

It doesn’t have to be this way. In many European nations, where youth are much better educated in the public high schools, soldiers are allowed and encouraged to join either a professional association or a trade union representing their interests. European national forces are prohibited from victimizing individual members of the armed forces for participation in unions.

In the United States, Title 10 U.S. Code § 976 specifically prohibits soldiers from organizing or joining military unions. Military labor organizations are illegal. Collective bargaining is illegal. Soldiers who attempt to address their grievances against the military by striking, picketing, marching, or demonstrating risk arrest.3

The law is unconscionable. Eighteen-year-olds can’t be expected to possess the skills to fully understand and negotiate the military enlistment/reenlistment agreement nor are they able to advocate for themselves once they’re subjected to the chain of command.

Too often parents are exasperated and disheartened when their rebellious teen is befriended by recruiters at school and enlists without their knowledge or approval. Imagine a mother’s fear and her feelings of remorse and guilt and betrayal when she realizes her only son is joining the Army largely to spite her. It happens all too frequently.

But the Army is pretty cool because it lets you blow stuff up and the Staff Sergeant at school is a great guy and a bus ride to boot camp is a ticket out of the basement at home. Mom and dad are furious when they discover their boy and the recruiter have become fast friends and they’ve been playing one-on-one basketball in the gym after school since spring break. They’re shocked when they discover that their 18-year-old child has already signed an enlistment contract and has been placed into the Delayed Entry Program (DEP).

For many parents it’s the powerlessness and sense of betrayal that cuts most deeply. The high school, which is supposed to be a safe place for kids, encouraged the staff sergeant to ensnare their child. In a few dizzying days, mom and dad have learned about the enlistment process and the DEP and have spoken to counselors with the GI Rights Hotline, who explain there’s really not much they can do other than attempt to persuade their son not to report to basic training.

It is instructive to examine the illogical treatment of 18-year-olds in American society. Eighteen-year-olds are not allowed to drink alcoholic beverages anywhere in the U.S.; they have to wait until they’re 21, and most states set the legal age for gambling at 21. Hawaii requires residents to be 21 to purchase cigarettes. Most rental car agencies set a minimum age requirement of 25.

A 20-year-old Army Specialist, returning from Afghanistan after a tour as a military police officer, wouldn’t be allowed to serve in most municipal or state police forces. Nonetheless, federal law allows 17 year-olds to enlist with parental O.K.

Almost all of the 17- and 18-year-olds recruited through their high schools are placed into the Delayed Entry Program or DEP;

The GI Rights Hotline is an excellent source on the DEP

The DEP is pushed hard by recruiters to high school seniors who are unsure what to do after graduation. A lot can happen in a year, and many people change their minds about what they want to do with their lives. Also, more and more people are realizing that recruiters misrepresent military life and lie to them. The promises made by recruiters about money for college and job skills are not really what the military is about, and many realize they don’t want to go to war for a cause they may be opposed to, have questions about, or feel is not really their concern.

Others have talked to people who have been to Iraq, and who may have been wounded or traumatized by their participation in the war. Still others are concerned about the open-ended nature of military enlistment, and have heard of soldiers being Stop-Lossed beyond the time they were supposed to get out. In the case of Sgt. Emiliano Santiago, a federal Circuit Court in April, 2005 upheld the government’s right to hold him until the year 2031, even though Santiago had already finished his eight-year commitment!

For whatever reasons, many people who have enlisted through the DEP change their minds before their ship date. They have the right to do this and do not have to go.4

The bottom line deserves repeating. Anyone in the DEP who changes their mind about joining the military can make the nightmare go away by not reporting to basic training.

Hotlines and counseling centers have logged thousands of calls from helpless and frustrated parents who’ve lost control of their children. Trained counselors explain that their son or daughter can get out of the Delayed Entry Program (DEP) by simply not showing up for boot camp and that they might be verbally threatened, but in the end there’s nothing the recruiter or anyone in the chain of command can do and they’re out. It sounds too easy, but it’s true.

In 2015, the Army managed to meet its recruiting goal of 59,000 new soldiers only because it depleted its pool of recruits in the DEP.5

What happens if the youth reports to boot camp? Is there any way out then? It’s the stuff of thousands of conversations across the country between parents and trained counselors. Mom is absolutely convinced her son won’t make it. She cites a litany of reasons: hyperactivity, bouts of depression, anxiety disorder, poor executive functioning skills, poor work ethic, etc. She’s convinced he’ll join the 40% who drop out by the end of their first term. She’s written letters to her boy’s recruiter and even the commander at the local military entrance processing station but she’s not getting any response.

Hotline counselors explain that if he hasn’t adapted to military life within his first 180 days he may be eligible for an Entry Level Performance and Conduct Discharge. Mom is advised that her son may consider seeking such a discharge if he:

• believes he made a mistake enlisting in the military,
• is not willing or able to complete his training,
• experiences emotional distress, or
• has difficulty coping with military life

This is a command-initiated discharge, which means there is no application procedure and no one has a “right” to this discharge. Visit or call 1- 877-447-4487 for more information.

In January of 2001 the American Friends Service Committee published a brilliant brochure that is still widely distributed today. “Ten 32 Pat Elder Points to Consider Before You Sign a Military Enlistment Agreement” offers compelling advice for youth who are considering enlistment.

  1. Do not make a quick decision by enlisting the first time
    you see a recruiter or when you are upset.
  2. Take a witness with you when you speak with a recruiter.
  3. Talk to veterans.
  4. Consider your moral feelings about going to war.
  5. Get a copy of the enlistment agreement.
  6. There is no period of adjustment during which you may
    request and receive an immediate honorable discharge.
  7. Get all your recruiter’s promises in writing.
  8. There are no job guarantees in the military.
  9. Military personnel may not exercise all of the civil liberties
    enjoyed by civilians.
  10. You will not have the same constitutional rights.

It’s not a rose garden. If you report to basic and you refuse to obey orders, you roll the dice. You could be harshly disciplined, imprisoned, and perhaps receive a dishonorable discharge. A dishonorable discharge might prevent you from working for or receiving funding from the state or federal government. It never goes away.

This sober appeal is directed toward all adolescents, including those who refuse to clean their room, take out the trash, or do the dishes.

Note: Chapter sources are available in the book version of this text.

Pat Elder is the director of the National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy, an organization that works to prohibit the automatic release of student information to military recruiting services from the nation's high schools. He is also creator of the website, which documents the deceptive practices used by the US military to recruit students into the armed forces.


 Revised 01/30/2022

Military Enlistment Ruins Lives


November 2016  | Pat Elder |  Counter-Recruit Press -The military is the scourge of the American experience. Our military is a scourge on the American experience. Forty percent of those recruited every year drop out in the first few months. Two million are seriously hurt every year. Desertions are rampant. Nearly half of all veterans who get out have filed injury claims with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, whose waiting list stands at a quarter million. Suicide is at record levels and so are rapes and assaults. It’s a monstrous institution in desperate need of reform, but the public fails to hold it responsible for the staggering level of human suffering it causes.  

Harsh criticism of every major American governmental institution, including all of the executive departments, is a deeply ingrained part of the American experience, but criticism of the military is off limits. We are conditioned to “support the troops” and every aspect of American militarism. Evidence of the destructive role the military plays in the life of the country is overwhelming, yet when Gallup asks Americans to rate their most trusted institutions the military consistently ranks at the top of the list. Gallup’s poll of July 2014 showed that 74% of Americans had either a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in the institution. Another 20% of Americans have "some" confidence in the military. The military has ranked at the top of the list all but one year since 1989. The current 74% confidence level is significantly higher than the average 67% rating given the military since it was first measured in 1975. Interestingly, the same poll showed that an all-time low, just 7% of Americans, have confidence in the US Congress.

In September of 2015, Gallup asked Americans about their confidence in the media's ability to report "the news fully, accurately, and fairly" and only 40% thought it did—also an all-time low.

Americans don’t trust Congress, the very institution that is charged with representing their interests and guaranteeing their rights. They are also losing their faith in the media, leaving them rudderless in a hostile and rising tide of corporate ascendency. In this environment it is frightening to witness blind faith in the military, among the country’s least democratic and least transparent institutions.

In the words of the great peace and justice advocate Medea Benjamin,

Obsessed with maintaining access to power, the mainstream media just keeps handing their megaphone to the powerful and self-interested. Rarely do we hear from people who opposed the disastrous 2003 invasion of Iraq or rightly predicted the chaos that would result from NATO intervention in Libya. The few anti-war voices who manage to slip into the dialogue are marginalized and later silenced.  Let’s face it: fear sells, violence sells, war sells.

Perhaps Orwell’s description of “DOUBLETHINK” in Nineteen Eighty-Four can help to put this into perspective:

The subtlest practitioners of DOUBLETHINK are those who invented DOUBLETHINK and know that it is a vast system of mental cheating. In our society, those who have the best knowledge of what is happening are also those who are furthest from seeing the world as it is. In general, the greater the understanding, the greater the delusion; the more intelligent, the less sane. One clear illustration of this is the fact that war hysteria increases in intensity as one rises in the social scale. - George Orwell, 1984

Orwell’s quote provides an excellent segue. The American people are duped.  They’ve been deceived, tricked, and defrauded, but on a different level they know the score. The military is the nation’s most trusted institution because militarism and war are marketed like other consumable American commodities.  The military defends our freedoms and Huggies Little Movers Camo Diapers “go on the march,” exclusively at Walmart. But, our boy, who spent two tours in Iraq, is losing his mind, drinking himself to death while the VA continues to deny his disability compensation benefits. Orwell’s doublethink pervades the public’s attitudes concerning the military. Consider the issue of military desertions.

Eddie Slovik was the last American service member to be executed for desertion.  Researcher Karen Mercury tells Slovik’s story,

The execution was carried out in France on January 31, 1945. Eddie told his commander he was too scared to serve in a rifle company, asking to be assigned to a rear area unit. He told the commander he’d run away if sent to the front. Eddie was denied his request and sent to the front. He was immediately arrested. Shortly thereafter, soldiers strapped him to a post with belts and the chaplain said to him, “Eddie, when you get up there, say a little prayer for me.” Slovik said, “Okay, Father. I’ll pray that you don’t follow me too soon.” And Slovik was slammed with eleven bullets.

Most Americans know death is the penalty for desertion but they probably don’t know when the last execution for this “crime” occurred or have any clue regarding the numbers of desertions in today’s military. Certainly, they must think, it has to be a very low number! Actually, there were more than 20,000 deserters from the Army alone during the period from 2006 to 2014. Desertion is so common the military often looks the other way. The Army has pursued just 1,900 cases of desertion since 2001, and most of these prosecutions have resulted in little more than a slap on the wrist.

Desertions are just one manifestation of a dysfunctional American military. The overwhelming majority of Americans who would qualify for military service aren’t interested.  The recruiting command is experiencing its greatest crisis since the end of the draft in 1973, although most Americans are oblivious.

For instance, click on and this is what you’ll see:

The U.S. Army is made up of the most dedicated, most respected Soldiers in the world. These Soldiers protect America’s freedoms while serving at home and abroad, and they are always prepared to defend the nation in times of need.

Click on Soldier Life and the disconnection with reality becomes even more apparent, “You’ll spend your days training, working and serving together to protect America’s freedoms. You’ll also have time after work for family, friends and personal interests. From recruitment to retirement, the U.S. Army provides a unique lifestyle.”

It all sounds pretty enticing, but 15% of all enlistees don't make it through initialentry training, and another 25% leave during their first permanent duty assignment in the operational Army. That means nearly 40% of all Army enlistees never complete their first term.

The recruiting command is headed for a calamity on many fronts, notwithstanding the sophisticated marketing campaign that suggests otherwise. Not only do nearly half leave right off the bat, but the pool of potential recruits continues to shrink. Over 75% of the 30.6 million Americans between ages 17 and 24 can’t become soldiers due to four main factors: inability to pass the enlistment test, criminal records, obesity, and other health issues.

There is, however, no valid data for the generalizations the military circulates about failure rates for the enlistment test. These estimates misrepresent the capacity of the general population to pass the ASVAB. The military-misinformation machine making these misrepresentations doesn’t want to admit that intelligent people are more likely to make a non-military choice, so they use statistics that filter them out. This trick helps them justify greater militarization of our schools.

Each year less than 400,000 young people become truly eligible for military service, but across all the services, around 250,000 are “needed”. Each Army recruiter averages just 10 contracts a year. The numbers are similar for the Navy and the Marine Corps. The Army alone initiates 16,000,000 contacts a year—in the hopes of signing up 68,000 recruits for active duty.

We can see why so many youth report being hounded by recruiters from all branches.

Obviously, one way to deal with the dropouts and desertions is to allow more recruits in by easing the requirements. For instance, the leading factor prohibiting enlistment is obesity, causing approximately 20% of ineligibilities.

Throughout its history the Army has always demanded that all recruits meet the same rigorous physical requirements, but the top command is considering relaxing these requirements for Military Occupational Specialties (MOS’s) that don’t require a great deal of physical stamina. This might free leaner recruits for more rigorous duty. From,

Today, we need cyber warriors, so we're starting to recruit for Army Cyber," Maj. Gen. Allen Batschelet said. "One of the things we're considering is that your [mission] as a cyber warrior is different." Maybe you're not the Ranger who can do 100 pushups, 100 sit-ups and run the 2-mile inside of 10 minutes, but you can crack a data system of an enemy. "But you're physically fit, you're a healthy person and maintain your professional appearance, but we don't make you have the same physical standards as someone who's in the Ranger Battalion.

Reportedly, recruits' scores on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) have plummeted in recent years, making even fewer eligible to enlist. Batschelet, the Army’s top recruiter, says the inability of potential recruits to clear the ASVAB test is of more concern than obesity. It's easier to help a soldier make weight than improve his smarts, he says.12 But this doesn’t apply to the vast majority of high school seniors who are heading to college and better employment opportunities.  They have the smarts to pass the simple enlistment test.  They’re just not interested in the military.  They’ve got better options.

The Army is considering relaxing minimal ASVAB scores to allow the lowest echelon recruits to enlist. Army regulations allow for 4% of enlistees to score in Category IV (10th to 30th percentile) and no more than 40% to score lower than Category IIIA (50th percentile or higher). Relaxing this criterion or substituting a non-academic personality test may open the floodgates to recruits who have hitherto been locked out. They may not be the brightest soldiers to join the ranks but, the Army reasons, some may have a greater propensity to stick it out.

The Army is toying with the idea of dispensing with the ASVAB in some cases if a candidate demonstrates a propensity to stick with the program. The Tailored Adaptive Personality Assessment System, or TAPAS, is being given at Military Entrance Processing Stations to ‘screen in’ candidates who are adaptive, resilient and have dedication, but perhaps scored only marginally on the ASVAB. According to Lt. Gen. James C. McConville, Lieutenant General Deputy Chief of Staff, G-1, "It's not necessarily SAT scores, it's not necessarily GPAs, it's people who have grit. And so how do you define grit -- how do you measure that?"

It may be tough to measure grit, but it’ll probably involve soldiers who are barely literate if they can’t score at least above the 31% threshold on the Armed Forces Qualification Test, or AFQT.

Rick Jahnkow of the San Diego-based Project on Youth & Non-Military Opportunities (YANO) explains,

They will have to stop having recruiters initially promise a particular MOS. In the past they have traditionally elected to allow recruiters to offer some degree of job guarantee. While this benefits recruiting, it also reduces the military's post-basic training assignment flexibility. If there is going to be an increase in recruits who score marginally on the ASVAB and are accepted because of their "grit," they will need more flexibility for job assignments after basic. So stopping the practice of recruiters offering an MOS guarantee would become necessary, even if it would require recruiters to work harder to sell enlistment.

The average recruit is in terrible shape, compared to his predecessors, and not simply in terms of weight. He is much more prone to being injured, leaving the ranks even further depleted. The statistics are mind-boggling because we’re conditioned to think of the Army in terms of being an invincible force.

It takes much longer today for the military to transform civilians into traditionally “qualified service members,” while the amount of time allotted to basic training and the overall rigor of the program hasn’t changed much from the days when youth were in much better shape. The process is excruciating for tens of thousands who must endure it annually. Something has to give, and it is typically not the drill sergeant.

The Army could stretch out the boot camp and start soldiers off by walking and doing very light calisthenics for a few weeks, but that would require a degree of humanism and common sense generally lacking in the chain of command.  Instead, new soldiers are breaking bones and wreaking havoc on their bodies in record numbers.

According to a 2013 article by Dr. Bradley Nindl, science advisor for the U.S. Army Institute of Public Health, musculoskeletal injuries (MSI) represented the leading cause of medical care visits across the military services resulting in almost 2,200,000 medical encounters in 2012 alone.

Many of the injury-related musculoskeletal conditions are due to the cumulative effects of repetitive microtrauma forces: overreaching/ training, overuse, overexertion, and repetitive movements experienced during both occupational duties and physical training.  Overuse injuries are an indicator that a unit is overtraining. Of the almost 750,000 MSIs reported in 2006 in military medical surveillance data on active duty, nondeployed service members, 82% were classified as overuse.

According to the article the Army’s deployment readiness was at just 85% for active duty and only 70% for Guard and Reserve forces because of the MSI problem.

Tens of thousands of soldiers desert their posts. 40% drop out in the first few months, thousands fail an elementary-level entrance test, and three-quarters of a million who aren’t even deployed sustain musculoskeletal injuries every year

But it gets worse.

USA Today reported in April of 2015 that nearly half of the 770,000 soldiers polled in 2014 “have little satisfaction in or commitment to their jobs,” according to resiliency assessments soldiers are required to take every year. “The effort produced startlingly negative results. In addition to low optimism and job satisfaction, more than half reported poor nutrition and sleep, and only 14% said they are eating right and getting enough rest.”

Taken all together the reality of military life and the squeaky clean marketing image just don’t jibe. Factor in the abysmal treatment offered by the Veterans Affairs Administration and the entire military conflagration looks like a major train wreck.

Forty-five percent of the 1.6 million veterans of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have filed injury claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Furthermore, the veterans are claiming an average of 8-9 physical or mental injuries each. (For comparison, only 21% of veterans filed injury claims after the 1991 Gulf War.)

The following numbers were supplied by the DOD in 2012 for various injuries claimed by Iraq and Afghanistan veterans:

  • More than 1,600 of them lost a limb; many others lost fingers or toes.
  • At least 156 are blind, and thousands of others have impaired vision.
  • More than 177,000 have hearing loss, and more than 350,000 report tinnitus (noise or ringing in the ears).
  • Thousands are disfigured, as many as 200 of them so badly that they may need face transplants. One-quarter of battlefield injuries requiring evacuation included wounds to the face or jaw, one study found.
  • More than 400,000 of them have been treated by the VA for mental health problems, most commonly PTSD.

Nearly half of all the soldiers sent to a combat zone suffer a serious injury that could forever limit their ability to get a job, go to college, get married, or have a normal personal life. Enlisting is like playing Russian roulette with half the chambers loaded with bullets. The recruiting command never includes this information in their marketing campaigns. Care to hop on the bus to basic training?

Soldiers kill people. It is their raison d'etre. When they return home many obsess on their crimes.They grovel in their shame; their anxiety, guilt, and anger. They often feel alienated and without meaning. They experience withdrawal and selfhatred and as a response they harm themselves and the people they love the most. They’re taking their own lives in record numbers and the systems we’ve established to help them are failing miserably. But only a few American can connect the dots.

When the military is through with many soldiers they’re no longer Army Strong nor can they Be all they can be, although they may feel like an Army of One, left alone, considering their treatment by the Veterans Administration.  The current backlog at the V.A., that is, the number of first-time VA benefits claims unresolved for more than four months, sat at around 245,000 cases in late 2014.

From Senator Gillibrand’s website:

The Military Justice Improvement Act would have moved the decision whether to prosecute any crime punishable by one year or more in confinement outside of the chain of command to independent, trained, professional military prosecutors.   50% of female victims stated they did not report the crime because they believed that nothing would be done with their report.  Commandant of the Marine Corps General James F. Amos said victims do not come forward because “they don’t trust the chain of command.”

John McCain, typically a poster boy for all things military, told the top U.S. military chiefs in 2013 he could not advise women to join the service with a sexual-assault scourge the military has not contained.

Just last night, a woman came to me and said her daughter wanted to join the military and could I give my unqualified support for her doing so. I could not," the Arizona Republican, a Vietnam veteran and ex-prisoner of war, told the uniformed chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

The record presented here is extraordinarily damning to the Pentagon; nonetheless, they still manage to meet most of their annual recruiting goals, though barely. This Teflon-clad institution has built a recruiting system upon a slippery bedrock of deception and obfuscation.

Exposing the lies and countering recruitment is fundamentally revolutionary. Resisting the unprecedented and relentless militarization of American youth transcends the current US-sponsored wars du jour. Countering military recruitment confronts an ugly mix of a distinctively American brand of institutionalized violence, racism, militarism, nationalism, classism, and sexism.

The Department of Defense and a misguided American foreign policy have become destructive of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Meanwhile, the military, paradoxically, enjoys the consent of the people. The nation is victimized by a brutal military machine and its malicious, criminal propaganda campaign.  It is one of the greatest tragedies of the American experience.

Note: Chapter sources are available in the book version of this text.

Pat Elder is the director of the National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy, an organization that works to prohibit the automatic release of student information to military recruiting services from the nation's high schools. He is also creator of the website, which documents the deceptive practices used by the US military to recruit students into the armed forces.


Share this

FacebookTwitterStumbleuponGoogle BookmarksRedditLinkedInRSS FeedPinterestInstagramSnapchat
The National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth (NNOMY) is supported by individual contributions and a grant by the Craigslist Charitable Fund - 2023 Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. NNOMY websites are hosted by The Electric Embers Coop.

Gonate time or money to demilitarize our public schools



This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of issues connected with militarism and resistance. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Contact NNOMY


The National Network Opposing

the Militarization of youth
San Diego Peace Campus

3850 Westgate Place
San Diego, California 92105 U.S.A.  +1 619 798 8335
Tuesdays & Thursdays 12 Noon till 5pm PST
Skype: nnomy.demilitarization

Mobile Menu