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Letter: Nothing sneaky or illegal in military recruiting

I have a solution to Ginny Schneider’s complaint about Monitor photos of children wearing “military garb” and the presence of military recruiters in schools (“Childhood, military don’t mix,” Monitor Forum, Feb. 15). We could reinstate the draft and relieve the pressure on recruiting. The draft would also give many snot-nosed couch potatoes a taste of the real world and some much-needed discipline they don’t seem to be getting at home.

There are disturbing and misleading statements in Schneider’s column. First, are all these photos of kids in actual military clothing, or just the ubiquitous camo items available at any Walmart?

Children since way before my time have played army and cops and robbers. As kids, we would scour the local army/navy store for inexpensive surplus military gear and clothing to validate our imaginary battles. Kids need heroes to look up to, and they could do much worse than our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and police, rather than people like Justin Bieber, Keith Hernandez, Miley Cyrus or Dennis Rodman.

Second, recruiters cannot process anyone younger than 17 into military service, and at 17 only with written parental consent. At 18, these young men and women are considered consenting adults who can make their own career or lifestyle choices.

Schneider makes recruiting activities appear to be a covert conspiracy. But this has been going on for decades, right out in the open.

The recruiter’s function begins with providing young people information concerning career options. Once they reach the appropriate age, the recruiter’s task is advising these young adults and processing those who choose to enlist. No one is forced to enlist in the military; that’s why it’s called an all-volunteer force. None of this violates any U.N. policy.

RON GODBOUT

Northfield

Mr. Godbout’s criticism of Ms. Schneider’s article is unfounded. Her basic point is that recruiters do take advantage of young people and I can verify this as I have personally seen it being done. Recruiters are allowed by school officials to “table” in cafeterias and Marine recruiters actually set up a “chin-up” bar and challenge students to achieve a certain number whereby they are awarded “prizes” such as a t-shirt, pens, key chains and the like. I have observed recruiters walking around the lunch rooms and actually siting down at some tables to speak with kids who may be 15, 16, or 17 and eating their lunches. This should be prohibited. Recruiters often mislead kids about military service and frequently harass them to join. In the recruiter’s manual, there is a lot about “school ownership.” Recruiters are encouraged to befriend the administration, become coaches for sports teams, and organize after-school activities. I believe Ms. Schneider just wants to ensure students are given the right to pursue an education without being constantly contacted. If students are genuinely interested in joining the military, then let them go to a recruitment center outside the school or go on-line. Will Thomas 27 Margate Drive Auburn, NH 03032 6036684996

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