Wednesday, November 01, 2006

It's not Kerry who dishonors the troops

I realize Kerry's explanation for his "botched joke" is that it was directed at Bush, not the troops... but does anybody besides me find a kernal of truth behind his words? I can't believe the GOP is getting all worked up over this perceived insult toward the troops! I know there are great opportunities in the military but we can't pretend that our troops are filled with the top GPA high school students. Many young people join the military because college is not an option for them, academically or financially. Even Army admits that:
According to the U.S. Army Recruiting Command's Strategic Partnership Plan for 2002-2007, "Priority areas [for recruitment] are designated primarily as the cross section of weak labor opportunities and college-age population as determined by both [the] general and Hispanic population."

I'm not the only who has concerns about military recruiters focusing on low-income and minority populations in inner city and rural areas--where young men and women do not have much hope for attending college or finding high-paying jobs. There is a large focus on Latinos (see also this article) not only because of their birth rate but even more lucrative deals are being made by promising citizenship to young undocumented immigrants.

Recruiters are very aware of this and plan accordingly, while simultaneously denying their intentions:
"JROTC gets into large cities that are cash-strapped because the people there are looking for programs that provide options," he says. "Is that "targeting'? No. Is it serving a population that needs it? Yes."
Americans need to recognize what is a true insult to our men and women in the military. A comment suggesting that young people need to do well in school or they may end up in an unpopular war? Or a statement such as this:
...Kurt Gilroy who directs recruiting policy for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, noting that it is important to "maximize return on the recruiting dollar [because] the advertising and marketing research people tell us to go where the low-hanging fruit is. In other words, we fish where the fish are."

Americans need to ask ourselves this question:
Is it an act of justice to offer those in poverty the option of money for college in return for service in the military? Or is it an act of exploitation?
Who owes an apology to the troops? I think it is our government, NOT John Kerry. Encouraging students to succeed academically in order to provide additional options for their future isn't insulting to the troops... it is only acknowledging the economic crisis faced by our young Americans and choices are available to them...

Read also: Military Recruitment, Communities of Color and Immigrants

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