Tuesday, January 27, 2009

An open letter to the armed services

...also a closed letter, I sent it in just now. Here's an unsolicited email I received from army recruiter yesterday... UNCLASSIFIED//// Dear JAMES HAZELTON, The U.S. Army is a place you will find your strength. Not only will you gain physical strength, emotional strength and strength of purpose, but the Army will strengthen your future as well. We offer many educational benefits and opportunities that will help you accomplish this. The Army has programs that can help you pay for college, pay off existing student loans, earn college credit or finish college without interruption. In fact, facilitating your education is one of the most important benefits you can receive as a Soldier. Army Reserve (Part-Time) * Army ROTC: Students at more than 700 colleges and universities nationwide can take advantage of one of the best leadership courses in America. Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) Cadets gain practical experience in management and problem solving while training to become Army officers. * The Army College Loan Repayment Program: Paying off your student loans becomes easier, with up to $20,000 for Soldiers who enlist part time in the Army Reserve; up to $20,000 for Soldiers who enlist in the Army Reserve for six years. * Education Career Stabilization (ECS) program: Many units in the Army Reserve now allow deferment from mobilization while you are in college, giving you an uninterrupted path to your degree. Active (Full-Time) Now you can qualify for up to $72,900 in college education benefits through The Army College Fund and Montgomery GI Bill. Additionally, whether you hold as few as 30 college hours or you already have a degree, you can earn an education bonus of up to $8,000 , depending on your qualifications. What's more, you can combine these education bonuses with the newly increased enlistment bonuses. With a four-year enlistment, you can now earn up to $40,000 for enlisting in a high-priority job skill. What's more, you might also qualify for up to $65,000 to pay off your federally insured student loans through the Army Loan Repayment Program. Limited bonuses are also available for an enlistment of as little as 15 months plus training. If you would like to discuss in greater detail how the Army can help facilitate your College desires please reply or contact me on my cell phone below. [contact info] To be removed from this mailing list please reply with the word “remove” in the subject line UNCLASSIFIED//// ...and the reply I sent back. I'll have no part in this. It's terrible that you're exploiting the financial situations of college students in a bid to enlist them into service. Also, how many people have you really tricked by the claim that this email is somehow "UNCLASSIFIED"? I mean, really, the people who fall for the "OMG, I'm needed for a secret mission!" ploy are probably not the people I want defending the country. Participation in the armed services of this country is voluntary, so let's keep the tricks and false-flattery out of it, shall we? James Hazelton Once more I'm forced to vent my frustrations at this system. As you all may know, I'm somewhat of a pacifist, (i.e. pinko-commie-longhair) and I've grown increasingly fed-up with the tactics used by the armed forces to recruit young men and women into the service. Being a young man once myself, I know first-hand of these treacherous tactics which include, but are not limited to:
  • Unsolicited phone calls - I got rid of these when I finally told the fifth recruiter that I had suffered a terrible injury, and would never walk again.
  • Unsolicited emails - [see above] I get probably three of these every semester, you'd think they'd get the point.
  • Uniformed men, handing leaflets in malls - the army has certainly taken a page from tobacco companies here, "Hook 'em while they're young"
  • Unending TV and web ads - "Look at me! I joined the army and now I'm a rocket scientist/engineer/astronaut/video game tester! Whoo!" -the following statement can be said about maybe one percent of those who enlist.
And finally, because I could not type the bullet hard enough to make my intense hatred for this next trick known, I present to you: "The Army Arcade" I first heard about this during a recent NPR broadcast. It was good that I happened to be near my destination while listening to the interview because my ire could have caused me to ram the nearest car in frustration. This just kills me. From the outside it looks like a normal arcade, in the same way that the soothing light of an angler fish lures in prey, but on the inside, kids (even at 18, these people are just kids, for crying out loud) are confronted with blackhawk and humvee simulators, in which they can blast insurgents within walking distance from the food court. Also present are xbox 360 and PS3 gaming consoles, loaded with army approved and INTENSELY REALISTIC (intensely sarcastic caps, there) depictions of the life of a soldier. It's bait and switch, simple as that. All of their tactics are. In conclusion, I'd like to note, that for the right people and the right reasons, there's nothing wrong with joining the army. I'm sure that it can be a positive experience for those who enjoy it. But these tactics, however, are those of a desperate system, gleefully ready to trick these young men and women into a life which they may be completely unprepared for. Dangling student loans, or adventure, or teenage-gaming-bloodlust in front of these kids is an awful way of doing business, and needs to be stopped immediately. Or maybe the arcade should feature a PTSD simulator, instead.

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