Before Enlisting

Address : 65 9th Street
City: San Francisco
Zipcode: 94103
Phone: (415) 547-0126
Organizational Website :
Scope of organization:
  • Regional
  • Local
This organization is a:
  • Counter-recruitment Organization
Organization base:
  • Nonstudent community based
Issues you are working on:
  • Alternatives to the military
  • General counter-recruitment/Truth in Recruitment youth education
Years in Operation: Less than 2 years
Summary describing your organization:: "We seek to share different narratives about the military other than the ones teenagers usually see, and to spark conversation. We aim to educate, empower, unify and enlighten our communities on issues of war and peace."

With a multi-billion dollar budget, recruiters are well supplied with slick materials, attractive gadgets and gifts to engage young people in conversation and potentially a military contract. The promises made by military recruiters are nonbinding. The contract signed by the recruit, however, is binding, and very hard to break. Recruiters target teenagers who are economically disadvantaged, who may struggle in school, and who feel pressure to land a job before graduating high school. They are skilled at finding young men and women eager for college money or job training, who want to serve their country, and who are idealistic in their goals.

In many cases, these teenagers are uninformed about the realities of military life. They are often unaware that they will engage in foreign wars, and that once the contract is signed, it is legally binding under the military's own, separate justice system.

Our mission is to shed light on these issues, and encourage teens to consider other career options, or at least wait a year or two before signing a long contract with the military.

Science shows that the brain is not fully developed until age 25. Yet recruiters sign up thousands of 17- and 18-year-olds each year. We advocate for a higher recruitment age, and a counter-balance to recruiters who are welcomed into high schools to entice young people with false promises.

In many schools, military recruiters have unlimited access to campus. The U.S. Army Recruiting Handbook instructs recruiters to “effectively penetrate the school market… [with the goal of] school ownership that can only lead to a greater number of Army enlistments.” Recruiters are instructed to serve as chaperones, coaches’ assistants, and all around buddies to students and staff. In addition, provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act mandate that all students’ contact information must be given to the military branches unless students “opt-out.” Many school districts use the ASVAB, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, to access the child’s private information. The test is evaluated by the military and is “specifically designed to provide recruiters with a source of prequalified leads.”

Military influence is also embedded in everything from our entertainment industries to sporting events and politics. Before Enlisting exists to provide facts that are often hidden or overlooked. We seek to share narratives different from the ones teenagers usually see on TV, and to spark conversation. We aim to educate, empower, unify and enlighten potential military recruits and their families, as well as civilians interested in issues of war and peace, moral injury, and abuse in the military.
Contact Person: Siri Margerin
Located in: California
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