Sunday, April 27, 2008

More on Student Military Recruiting Tactics (A Little History)

This is a long one, but here we go:

In this 2004 article, "Military recruiters target schools strategically," The Boston Globe talks to Kurt Gilroy, who directed recruiting policy for the Office of the Sec. of Defense at the time:

Nearly all efforts are aimed at impending or recent high school graduates. But the marketing message is not targeted equally, acknowledged Kurt Gilroy, who directs
recruiting policy for the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Although the military strives to maintain a presence everywhere "to give everyone an opportunity to enlist if they so choose," he said, it concentrates on places most likely to "maximize return on the recruiting dollar [because] the advertising and
marketing research people tell us to go where the low-hanging fruit is. In other words, we fish where the fish are."
This 2005 Washington Post report explores military recruiting in rural populations.

Many of today's recruits are financially strapped, with nearly half coming from lower-middle-class to poor households, according to new Pentagon data based on Zip codes and census estimates of mean household income. Nearly two-thirds of Army recruits in 2004 came from counties in which median household income is below the U.S. median. All of the Army's top 20 counties for recruiting had lower-than-national median incomes, 12 had higher poverty rates, and 16 were non-metropolitan, according to the National Priorities Project, a nonpartisan research group that analyzed 2004 recruiting data by Zip code.

For information on NYC military recruiting, here's this 2005 article, originally published by the New York Daily News:
Last year, as U.S. casualties mounted in Iraq, only three residents in two neighborhoods of Manhattan's upper East Side - the city's richest area - joined the Army, Air Force or Navy.

Just a few blocks farther north, in a swath of East Harlem, 45 people enlisted.

At the same time, an astounding 113 joined in the Morrisania and Highbridge sections of the South Bronx. Meanwhile, in two zip codes of Brooklyn's poverty-stricken East New York, 116 men and women joined the military.

And in the immigrant neighborhoods of Elmhurst and Corona in Queens, 73 signed up.

That's all according to the Pentagon's own personnel records, which were obtained under a Freedom of Information request and released for the first time last week by the nonprofit National Priorities Project.
This 2007 Gotham Gazette article looks at NYC military recruitment in relation to poverty levels:

...there is an overwhelming military recruiter presence in schools like Christopher Columbus, Harry Truman, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Martin Luther King, which mostly serve poor, lower-income students. Recruiters are on these campuses at least every other day and become a constant presence in the students’ lives, he said.

“In the recruiters’ manual there is a lot about school ownership,” Rosmarin said. “They are encouraged to befriend the administration, become coaches for sport teams and organize after-school activities. We hear a lot of instances where recruiters will go as far as taking a student out and buying them lunch. We just want to ensure students are given the right to pursue an education without being harassed and hassled everyday.”

In September 07, The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) published a report in conjunction with the Manhattan Borough President’s Office: “Military Recruitment at Select New York City Public Schools Violates Students Rights, Report Finds.” The summary of findings and full report are available on the website.

To sum it up:

To be frank, it makes me ill that while some continue to profit off of this war, we continue to recruit the marginalized in our society to fight it, using tactics that are unfair and manipulative. When the major reason that those who do enlist is the absence of other opportunity and an array of closed doors-- there is a problem.

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