Charles Davis/ Vice -
“Charles, there's someone who wants to speak you,” my mother would yell from the kitchen. She showed no concern as she handed me the phone, no alarm in her eyes over all the calls she was getting from strange middle-aged men looking to chat up her vulnerable teenage son. That's because these creepers called themselves “colonels” and “sergeants,” which lent authority to their predation. These men were military recruiters – and the bed they wanted to get me in was housed in some barracks.
A few weeks earlier, a uniformed Marine had come to my high school, set up an efficient little booth in the cafeteria and, in exchange for a stupid hat or a bumper sticker, convinced me and some other boys desperate to be men to give him our names and home phone numbers. After that, at least once a week I had to deal with a recruiter calling me “dude” or “man” while promising that military service would allow me to see the world and sleep with many of its women.
I never did join up, but the recruiters kept calling—once they have your information, it's pretty hard to get them to admit defeat. And they have a lot of people’s information.
More than 30 million Americans between the ages of 16 and 25 have details about their lives stored in a Pentagon registry called the “Joint Advertising Market Research Studies” (JAMRS) database, their names, phone numbers, email addresses, ethnicities, and other identifying information available to recruiters 24 hours a day. Since 2001, any school that receives federal funding is required under the No Child Left Behind Act to provide the Pentagon such data on all students in 11th and 12th grades, as well as grant recruiters access to their campus.