Very often, the public's perception of the military lifestyle is limited to what they’ve seen on the news, TV, or video games.
Recruiters are salespeople, plain and simple. They undergo extensive sales training and are judged by their superiors primarily upon the number of recruits they sign up. Sign up large numbers, and they’re judged to be a good recruiter. Fail to sign up the minimum number assigned (known as "making mission"), and a recruiter is looking at a dead-end career. This policy pressures some recruiters to adopt unethical practices in order to "make mission."
As veterans we know the truth of what happens in war and VFP members across the U.S. work with young people before they enlist, to help them understand what it’s really like to be part of the U.S. military.
Truth in Recruitment work (also called Counter-Recruitment can take many forms: Veterans For Peace chapters and members take action by sharing their experiences in classrooms and other educational settings, Opt-Out campaigns, recruiting station protests, hosting tables and handing out flyers and resources at schools, and providing information about alternatives to the military.
According to 1986 Ninth Circuit Court ruling, counter military recruiters are legally allowed the same access to students as military recruiters. The ruling stated that the question of military service (whether voluntary or compulsory) is a controversial political issue, and if a school establishes a forum for one side to present its views on the issue, it must give opponents equal access to the forum.
Counselors and teachers have worked with counter military recruiters to provide equal access by:
- Placing literature displays in career and counseling centers
- Setting up displays at career and college fairs
- Placing posters and literature on bulletin boards
- Having speakers and printed materials in classrooms
- Running ads in student newspapers
- Having counter military recruiters/peace activists be present whenever there are military recruiters present
In order to be sure that military recruiters, college and job recruiters, and peace activists
have equal access to each other, as required by law, schools document and regulate recruiter visits. Some counselors will only allow recruiters at career/job fairs. Some counselors require students to make appointments with all recruiters, others have military recruiters and military counter recruiters sitting at tables outside lunchrooms once a month or once a semester. From Veterans For Peace Chapter 35 in Spokane, WA
As veterans, our stories are a powerful tool that can be used to counteract the narrative and promises made by recruiters and can help prevent others from entering the military without a full understanding of the horrors and reality of war.
- Download the “Back-to-school Kit for Counter-recruitment and School Demilitarization Organizing”: From the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth (NNOMY): catalog of basic material useful to educating young people and school personnel about the realities of military enlistment and war. The catalog also includes some information on alternatives to enlistment, as well as items written for organizers seeking to reach out to local schools. NNOMY also has a great webpage on the Introduction to Counter Recruitment work and a large number of other great resources, information, and tools.
- Spread the word about how parents, teachers and students can opt-out of their information being released to recruiters: Visit http://bit.ly/NNOMYOptOut to find information for students, teachers, parents, etc. for keeping a students’ contact information from automatically being released to military recruiters by the school district or school.
“The Truth about what Recruiters Promise” from About Face (Formerly Iraq Veterans Against War)
- A Solider's Life: This website and video are made for high school students to discourage them from enlisting in the military. All of the production staff who created the 10-minute video are students, ranging from middle school to college. The Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice and Veterans for Peace co-created the video with professional photographer and CCPJ Board member Richard Lord.
Show the Video: "Before You Enlist"
"Before You Enlist" is a 16 min. educational video, professionally produced with the input of researchers and organizers who have spent decades speaking in schools and to youth groups. It covers important points chosen strategically to counter the deceptive tactics used by highly-trained military recruiters. It does so with the voices of a diverse set of veterans, including an ex-recruiter whose testimonial highlights reasons why young people should think critically about what they hear from the military.
Check out our resource pages for Students and Active G.I.s
Do you have ideas for resources to add to our Truth in Recruiting pages?
Do you want to help create a VFP Truth in Recruiting Toolkit?
Does your chapter do Truth in Recruiting work?
Let us know! Email firstname.lastname@example.org.