Schoolkids & military advertisement: Career, combat—or both?

Marine recruits (Scroll down to see earlier posts on youth and recruiting.)

Two jostling themes emerged this week in our discussion of military recruiting of America’s youth.

One theme is career—the opportunities the military offers to anyone, from any walk of life, who signs up.

“There are many benefits that the military can provide,” says Ron Amen, “schooling, health insurance, housing, and so on.” The military teaches and reinforces values that many people endorse.

Sophisticated marketing to the nation’s youth (and those who influence them) showcase real opportunities. “I think the army is trying to get young children to dream to be in the army,” says Michael Elsas. “All kids dream of being a football player or astronaut but the truth is these are not likely career choices for most kids, but if they aspire to enter the army, then it is a goal well within reach for most of America’s youth.”

Combat is the other theme—the real possibility that an enlistee will engage in war, whether we agree with it or not.

If the leadership of this country will stop getting us involved in ridiculous, trumped up wars, says Ron Amen, “two years in the military would do a lot of good for today’s youth. The problem with the military is not the military, it’s the people who run it. Bush used it as his own personal militia to settle old scores and to launch the new crusades against the Muslim hordes.”

And, David Crumm said, “I’m also wary of the way we as Americans use our military forces like a club—and then forget about the men and women in our service and often we don’t think about the consequences of our military intervention.”

Allen Barton captured the career/combat duality: “Recruiting attempts on students should stimulate discussion between parents and children on whether the U.S. needs a bigger military and whether the politicians in power are using our military for unwise purposes.”

Next week we continue our focus on values and America’s youth. This time, we’ll consider parenting—and some of the new advice out about how to do it well.

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