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Army Uses Aggressive Tactics to Recruit Teenagers

Military Recruiting on High School Campuses and at Homes

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"An effective sales approach would be to tailor a program to fit the needs and interests of the individual (high) school," exhorts the US Army's School Recruiting Program Handbook.

"For example, one school may place a premium on its music program; another may give prominence to its athletic program. One school may place more emphasis on its academic scholarship program. Each school has a distinct chain of command structure."

Thus, the handbook, first published in Fall 2004, directs Army recruiters on how to strategize an high school program to maximize enlistment among students. And if that's not enough to entice teenagers, in June 2005, the Defense Department began working with an outsourced direct marketing company to develop a database of personal and private information about every American aged 16 to 25. Included in the database are Social Security numbers, ethnicity and racial data, email addresses, birth dates and grade point averages.

High School Campus Recruiting Buried in President Bush's much-touted No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 was Section 9528, a requirement that all public and private high schools receiving federal funds must "provide access to students' names, addresses and phone numbers" to military recruiters. It also mandates that high schools must allow military recruiters the same campus access to students as is granted to college recruiters and prospective employers.

High schools that don't comply with these requirement will lose federal funding, which would likely force closure of the school. The only exceptions to this law are private schools that can prove a "verifiable historical historical objection to military service."

Advice dispensed in the Army's School Recruiting Program Handbook includes :
- "Cultivate coaches, librarians, administrative staff and teachers.

- Be so helpful and so much a part of the school scene that you are in constant demand.

- Know your student influencers. Students such as class officers, newspaper and yearbook editors, and athletes can help build interest in the Army among the student body.

- Attend athletic events at the HS.

- Coordinate with school officials to eat lunch in the school cafeteria several times each month.

- Deliver donuts and coffee for the faculty once a month.

- Coordinate with the homecoming committee to get involved with the parade.

- Get involved with the local Boy Scouts. Many scouts are HS students and potential enlistees or student influencers.

- Attend as many school holiday functions or assemblies as possible.

- Offer to be a timekeeper at football games.

- Martin Luther King, Jr's birthday is in January. Wear your dress blues and participate in school events commemorating this holiday.

- Contact the HS athletic director and arrange for an exhibition basketball game between the faculty and Army recruiters.

- Hispanic Heritage Month (in September). Participate in events as available.

- Have the Commander present certificates to those faculty and staff members who have aided you in your HS recruiting efforts."

Parents may opt out of allowing their students' data from being released to military recruiters by signing an optional form. However, many parents are unaware of the optional form, and many schools have not made the form readily available to parents.

To enlist in the US armed forces, one must be a high school graduate, of reasonable intelligence and in good health. As recruiters fail to meet recruiting quotas, parents and students claim these rules have been bent.

One Arvada, Colorado high school senior famously tested the recruiting system by posing as a high school drop-out with a drug habit. After considerable coaching by two recruiters, he gained a phony diploma and transcripts from an online diploma mill. They also offered to pay half the cost of a self-detox kit.

At a Bell, California high school, 500 juniors were required to take the 3-hour Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery test, which is prime part of the recruitment process. Only after they took the test did parents and students discover that it was optional.

Complaint files are rife with stories of recruiter promises made and not kept, impossible commitments made to naive teenage recruits, and of frequent phone calls and surprise home visits by military personnel to potential recruits.

And the military recruiters give items to high school students....t-shirts, mouse pads and computer accessories, even violent video games and other teenage-cool trinkets.

And there's that Defense Database on every American age 16 to 25.....

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