Rep. Jim McDermott Slams Seattle Times For Backing Recruiters in High School

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In a column titled “High-school Students and Soldiers Deserve More,” Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) writes:

The Seattle Times’ editorial “Don’t ban recruiters from high school” (April 15) does a disservice to every high-school junior and senior, as well as every soldier who would like some say over his or her destiny. That should have been painfully obvious following The Times’ own coverage of Emiliano Santiago, a soldier who has served his country with distinction, but now faces a sentence to serve because the military cannot recruit enough soldiers.

Buried in the fine print of Santiago’s recruitment paperwork eight years ago was a provision called stop-loss. It is meant to ensure that America has enough soldiers to defend itself in time of national emergency, but the Pentagon under Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has perverted the use of stop-loss because military recruitment is significantly below goals.

Stop-loss now affects 50,000 soldiers. Santiago could end up serving until Christmas Eve, 2031, 37 years after he signed up — a virtual lifetime.

Every student and every parent should remember Santiago’s case because it could happen to you, and no one in the military is going to tell you beforehand. And stop-loss is not the only stealth tactic in use by the military.

A provision buried in the No Child Left Behind law forces high schools to turn over student contact information to military recruiters. Any school that balks can lose all of its federal money. The Seattle Times casually tells its readers that a student can sign a form to opt out. The reality is that young people have lost their right to privacy and The Times is stone-cold silent on restoring this fundamental right in a free society.

I served my country as an officer in the United States Navy, and I believe that every American has a responsibility to give back to our country. For some, a career in the military is the right choice. But a decision to even consider a military career belongs solely with the individual, and that’s not what we have today. That’s why I joined with the punk band Anti-Flag to launch a nationwide drive to alert students on how to opt out and demand that Congress restore student privacy. (More information can be found at http://www.militaryfreezone.org)

Meanwhile, don’t blame the recruiters. These people were selected because they are role models, the best of the best to represent the military. Now, they suffer under a quota system, and recruiters are under increasing pressure to find soldiers. Army National Guard recruitment plunged 31 percent in February and fell another 12 percent in March.

Young people are the hope and future of this great nation. We owe them more than to casually compromise their basic right to privacy. According to The Seattle Times, students have the right to die in Iraq, but they don’t have the right to privacy. With misguided opinion like this, is it any wonder that young people don’t trust adults?

4 Responses to “Rep. Jim McDermott Slams Seattle Times For Backing Recruiters in High School”

  1. Jeanne Says:

    I have a daughter in high school. She is in the tenth grade. She went into the office and asked for an opt out form to sign. They didn’t know what she was talking about. She finally had to have the backing of the ACLU in our area to get her name off the recruitment list only.
    We have a moral obligation as a country to protect our children from harm. We have a moral obligation to educate our children so that they can make accurate and honest decisions. Our high schools are failing to do that if they allow recruiters in without giving the students options to say no. They are failing to protect the students from harm if they put their students in situations like that of Emiliano Santiago.
    Who have we become as a nation? When did an honest and good citizen like Emiliano Santiago become a number? When did our children become tools for system out of control? When did we, as a nation, not only begin to allow it, but accept it with a shrug.
    How many voiceless Emiliano Santiago’s are out there?

  2. Military Recruiter Says:

    Every person has the opportunity to say no to a military recruiter. When they call you – just say “I’m not interested” and that’s it. You just said no. You don’t need a form to say no.

    Haven’t you people figured out that if you stop recruiters and stop people from enlisting that they’ll be another draft? Which is the worse of the 2? As a soldier I would never want a draft. I want to make sure the people to my left and right WANT to be there and are willing to cover my 6.

    Would you rather let everybody who wants to join, join – or would you rather have EVERYBODY forced to join. Your choice.

    -Recruiter

  3. Emiliano Santiago Says:

    I really agree with the comment above. I think that when you join the military you really need to think it over and not just sign the application. Do not let the uniform impress you, or the benefits, which I really thought there is any. The main thing is that you make sure that you know what are you getting into, ask question and look around. It is true that we need to give some of our time for this great country for the great democracy and freedom that exits, but there is always time for yourself. I am write now writing this comment from Afghanistan where I am serving right now. Please read the fine prints on the form.
    SGT Santiago, Emiliano

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