The New York Times reports on a growing tendency of military recruiters to lie and cheat in order to make their recruitment quotas. In 2004, there were 320 substantiated cases of what the Army calls recruitment improprieties involving 1,118 recruiters, or nearly one in five. [Correction: After we published this post we learned that the 1,118 figure refers to the number of recruiters investigated — not the number found to be involved in recruitment improprieties] Recruiters and some senior Army officials, told the Times that for every impropriety that is found, at least two more are never discovered. You do the math.
One recruiter, who has fought in several conflicts including the current war in Iraq, said one in every three people he had enlisted had a problem that needed concealing, or a waiver. "The only people who want to join the Army now have issues," he said. "They’re troubled, with health, police or drug problems."
Is this for real? Maybe the recruiters are so conditioned to lie and exaggerate that they made all of this up for the Times reporter. But that wouldn’t account for the strong anecdotal evidence, like the Denver recruiters caught on tape instructing a high school student on how to fake a diploma and evade a drug test. Or the lead example in the Times article of a 21-year-old Ohio man, signing up for the Army fresh from a three-week commitment in a psychiatric ward. Recuiters lied to the man’s parents, who were only able to keep their son from being shipped out by enlisting the help of their Congressman.