Thursday, March 10, 2005
US Military Recruiters and their lies
The most important thing to remember about military recruiters is that they portray themselves as guidance counselors who care about helping students improve themselves. In reality, they are salespeople who are desperate to make their quotas.
For example, recruiters are directed by their superiors to “market” the military’s standardized test--the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB--to schools as a program “to help students learn more about themselves and the world of work, identify and explore potentially satisfying occupations, and develop an effective strategy to realize their goals.”
But the recruiting handbook explains the true importance of ASVAB to recruiters--the test is “specifically designed to provide recruiters with a source of pre-qualified leads. The ASVAB recruiter printout provides information you can’t get from any other list. It...provides the recruiter with concrete and personal information about the student.”
Recruiters often hype education benefits as a way to get students to sign on the dotted line, promising up to $70,000 to help pay for college. But the military actually makes money off this program. That’s because recruits must pay into a fund to receive benefits. But so few end up with the qualifications necessary to take advantage of them that the military takes in $72 million more every year than it pays out!
And of course, recruiters never make the obvious point that education benefits aren’t much use if you’re dead.
Another tactic is to tell potential recruits that they can opt out of combat--because there is a “no war” clause in their contract. This is a blatant lie. But GI rights counselors who give legal advice to service members hear this again and again from people who are being shipped overseas and who want to get out.
In fact, GI rights counselors report a wide array of common lies from recruiters. For example, in hyping the military’s job training programs, recruiters tell enlistees that if they train as a medic, they’ll qualify as a civilian nurse--though they don’t.
They also tell prospective recruits that they can request a specific job or specialty in the military--which they can, but the military is under no obligation to honor these requests, and usually doesn’t. “One of my favorite examples was the caller who was told by the recruiter that if you don’t like the Army after you've been in basic training for about two weeks, you just talk to your drill sergeant, and a discharge can be arranged,” said Jim Picton, a GI rights counselor. “The caller, who seemed intelligent enough, said he did that. The drill sergeant responded, ‘I own your ass--get out of my face!’”