Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Army is honorable profession

The NY Times ran a long article on "How the Army gets what it wants" over the weekend. It concentrates mainly on how the Army is much more successful in recruiting in poor areas with low graduation rates than affluent areas where most students go to college. By the low standards of the Grey Lady the article was reasonably balanced though it does end with the oft-repeated fact that the Army had fallen short of its 2005 recruiting goals without mentioning the target was significantly more aggressive this year and that retention rates are extremely high.

What the article also reported was the vast majority of parents in the affluent parts of Westchester have 'opted out' of allowing the military to have their home phone numbers and addresses if they have children in high school.

No Child Left Behind also requires schools to turn over students' home phone numbers and addresses to the military unless a parent has notified the district not to in writing.
John Klemme, principal of Scarsdale High, says that each year 80 to 90 percent of its parents exercise their right to "opt out" - in other words, they demand to have personal information about their children kept from the military. In contrast, at Mount Vernon High, only 2 percent of parents wrote such letters last year, said Dr. Arnold Jaeger, the assistant superintendent of the Mount Vernon school district.
"I was in Chappaqua where 98 percent of the students go to college," Sergeant Smith said, "and the schools weren't receptive. It's the same families who have the 'Support Our Troops' stickers on their cars. They say, 'Thank you for your sacrifice, but not my son.'"
Clergy members have also become involved in counteracting the recruiters' message. The Rev. George Kuhn, a priest at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in Yonkers, held a meeting this fall after Mass, to educate congregants on opting out, and to play an anti-recruiting video called "Leave My Child Alone." He said most of his parish came from Latin America, and many, like the Salvadorans, knew about war firsthand and want to spare their children the experience.
"A lot of people in Westchester sit here with stickers on their car that say 'Support Our Troops,' " Captain Arosemena said. "But when you ask them if they have any relatives in the Army, they say, 'Oh no, I would never let a family member serve.' "

This is a DISGRACE. We are not asking parents to sign their kids up for boot camp. And if they are so 'afraid' that mere exposure to military recruiters will influence their kids then they are damned useless as parents. "I would never let a family member serve." Enough folks think like that and we'll be like the Romans in the fifth century who hired the Visigoths to protect them.

And what in heaven's name is a Roman Catholic priest doing playing anti-recruitment videos? The Episcopalians I understand but the Vatican acknowledges just wars in which case I cannot see how a Roman Catholic priest can be anti-Army.

I can understand why well-to-do parents wouldn't want their kids to join the armed forces - it's a dangerous profession and the pay is well below what Junior will make as a banking analyst, entry level consultant or staff lawyer. Some day if my kids were interested in a military career (just desserts for this neocon some of you will note I am sure) I'll tell them the risks and I'll tell them to bust their chops and make it to West Point, Colorado Springs or Annapolis.

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