I think this is my first attempt to be something of a pundit. I was reading Jack Army, as I am wont to do, and I was reading the comment on this post. One of the comments was from a reader and fellow military blogger IRR Soldier. I can't remember how but IRR Soldier's comments led me to this site where I read Kevin's response to JA's comments on the NYT article that started the whole thing in the first place. I was going to leave a comment and all that, but I'm watching the Astros lose to the Pad's and felt like venting my spleen on my own little place.
I have never misled, lied about, or concealed the risks that go with the Army. I'm an AGR Soldier. When my time in USAREC purgatory is finally done I will be returning to the Army Reserve. I'll probably stay here in the same location where I've been a recruiter. That means that I will get the pleasure of serving with the same men and women who I am putting into the Army now. I do not want to report to my unit and have one of the squad leaders there come up to me and say how I'd lied about what they were getting in to and how much I ruined their life. I'm not a Regular Army recruiter where the odds of me seeing one of my recruits again is slim. My enlistees will be assigned to a place within 50 miles of where I work and live.
Kevin says "he (Bob Herbert, NYT) believes that the recruiters have not given equal time to the horrors of war as they have to the so called benefits of joining." Maybe he's right. I don't fill my evidence book with pictures like these (kinda nasty, feel dirty having to find them).
Oops. Those were pictures of victims from car crashes. Now that I think about it I'm feeling cheated and lied to by my Chevy dealer since they didn't show me those pictures or tell me how dangerous it could be to drive a car. All they told me about were these so-called benefits like the ability to go place to place, listen to music in climate-controlled comfort, be able to haul cargo in the spacious bed, and enjoy the freedom and responsibility that being a vehicle owner can bring. They mentioned nothing about insurance costs, the possibility that gas prices could sky rocket or the significant chance of me dying or being injured in a car accident. Hell, 40,000 people may die in car accidents this year (I went with the first results Google gave me so if the number is wrong I'm sorry). I was told none of this. And yet these death traps are marketed to children.
Maybe I'm being unfair. It's not the car dealership's responsibility to make sure I make a smart and informed decision; fully aware of all sides and possibilities. They are not required to make sure I have all the information I want. All the information I need. And even more information than I ask for. After finding out that I could get a 6-disc changer with a five-speed transmission they're not required to make me watch highway safety movies.
Recruiters are already fighting an uphill battle against misconception and misinformation when we speak with most prospects. In a country of 300 million people fewer than 1 million are actively serving in the Army, and around 2 million are serving in any armed forces. I'm not a statistician but I think that means someone could know 150 people before the odds mean one of them will be in the military. There is a whole lot of poor information out there on the Army, coming from as many different sources as there are non-recruiting personnel. And I must counter that misinformation with everyone I talk to, be it a prospect, the prospect's spouse, parents, child, friends, etc. Kevin would like for me to, not only do my job of putting people in the Army, but Michael Moore's job as well by trying to talk people out of the Army. I can only do one and I don't feel like taking Mr. Moore's job from him.
As proof of how deceptive recruiters can be Kevin offered an experience from his own time as a CO during the Gulf War. "I had kids (SSG B: if they were in your unit they were Soldiers, not kids) come to me nervous as hell about deploying. What was their argument? Hey, I joined this to get a college degree not die! Now, you can call them stupid, naive, or just plain selfish but the bottom line is that the marketing is trickery and quite frankly, bait and switch."
I can assure you that if I though for a picosecond that my CO thought me "stupid, naive, just plain selfish" the saying "you respect the rank, not the man" would have become my mantra. I do hope that you didn't think so little of the men and women serving with you. I joined to pay for college as well, not to die. No one joins to die. Some people join to fight, but I hope that they expect to make it through their tour alive and well. If not, there are programs available to them to give them the help they need. Someone who joins the Army with the hope of being killed has a problem. It is a very poor leader who takes someone who has a rational fear of combat and belittles them as "stupid" or "selfish". I'm curious about how many of the Soldiers Kevin went with did get killed. IIRC there were about 300 US casualties between combat and non-combat deaths for the Gulf War.
Quid pro quo. If the Army adds scenes of flag-draped coffins, the Honor Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, rows of crosses at Arlington, Normandy, or any other such hallowed ground, will the media and Hollywood in particular stop trying to lose the war? I mean, they weren't always on the side of fascists.