Protecting The Children

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We as a society have a responsibility for the generation that comes after us, just as our parents did for us. Sometimes people think when their children make it to the drinking or smoking age, they are on their own, and can decide for themselves what is right.

Close knit families, some might say, Christian families, seem to extend that period of responsibility longer. Many parents would be surprised by how much some of their older children still want their advice.

Somehow our government has decided that they have a right to send salesmen into our high schools. Military recruiters can have a shot at vulnerable young adults, some as young as thirteen. In our local school, which has all grades in one building, every child gets to see this "nice Army man." These recruiters wear dashing new uniforms, with medals and ribbons, or they come looking ready for combat in their desert fatigues. One way or the other, they are going to impress a wide segment of the student body.

The only thing between those recruiters and a student signing on the dotted line, is the child’s parents.

Today, because Washington is so desperate for bodies, children are allowed to go to Boot Camp between junior and senior year. Then when they finish their senior year, they are all ready locked in to go.

The new "No Child Left Behind" education program has a clause in it that will cut a school’s funding if they try and protect their children, by having recruiters stay out of the school.

Many parents are taking their responsibility seriously and are counseling their children to not "sign up." They are giving them alternatives, like college or vocational school. These are not as exciting as the television ad that portrays life in the Marines as fighting dragons, or the adventure of dropping out of a helicopter into the ocean as seen in an Army ad.

Parents have a lot to compete with, but many children in America today are trusting those parents, who they know love them. Eric Schmitt, writes in the New York Times, July 24, 2005, that LT. General Franklin L. Hagenbeck, "The Army’s top personnel officer acknowledged this week that the service will probably miss its recruiting goal this year, the first admission by a senior Army official and a stark reminder of the Iraq war’s impact on enlistment." It is also a reminder of how powerful a parent’s loving advice can be.

Brad Edmonds, writing for LewRockwell.com, reminds us, "Note that children of Congressmen, military officers, and corporate executives rarely are killed in these wars."

It is a sad fact that many parents in this country do not have alternatives to offer to their children, and just because of the family’s economic situation, military service can be enticing. Today the thousands of tax dollars used to bribe a young man or woman into signing up could be more money than that family has ever seen in one chunk. The children signing their name, can relate to a fine athlete, signing that bonus contract with a professional sports team. After watching some of the television ads about life in the military and hearing the lies of recruiters who are looking for promotions based on numbers of recruits signed up, who could blame a child for that fantasy?

It is up to the parents to see through all the hype and sort out what is true and what is false about a military career, so that their child has an honest chance of making an informed decision about whether or not "joining up" is in their best interest.

Jim Glaser [send him mail], a Marine Corps Vietnam War veteran and American Legion Post 499, works to educate the American public on the consequences of war. His personal website is James-Glaser.com.

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